Here at Mister Kitty, we roam the world searching for new and stupid comics for this feature, which means occasionally we wind up with odd lots of all sorts of printed material that technically are not "comics", and yet are possessed of a certain quality that may lend itself to our specific needs. And of course, when you get right down to it, sequential art is a combination of words and images, and today's offering certainly has both of those elements. And a few others.
IT'S A COOK BOOK, he hollers, as Richard Kiel in a latex skull cap drags him aboard the flying saucer. Yes it's a cook book, and one guaranteed to be filled with recipes your children will love, assuming they love meatballs on a bed of shredded styrofoam insulation, acompanied by dried and stiffened gummy worms and, okay, be fair, a perfectly adequate Waldorf salad. What ARE these recipes for all children? Let's find out.
The title page of this edition gives us not only the charming midcentury illustrations of Beatrice Derwinski, but a full roster of women staff showing the world exactly what career opportunities existed for ladies in the 1950s - Home Economists, or nursing, or teaching. Have fun girls!
Children want fun food, gay colors, appealing shapes, and to grumble about doing the dishes. Help Junior forget about that terrible haircut by letting him dry and precariously stack all your dishware!
It's smart to be careful when cooking for children, and that means familarizing yourself with every cooking term and ingredient you'll be stuffing in your child's gaping food holes. This includes those great mid-century cooking staples like buttered crumbs, hydrogenated vegetable shortening, good old fashioned lard, and the scientific wonder of the age, Monosodium Glutamate. I wonder if THAT could be the secret indredient that really turns these dishes into dishes children love?
MSG is certainly a wonder food additive. Why, it goes great with Grandma's Chicken Broth AND Cream Of Tomato Soup, making the children stare with wonder and amazement. Yes, Grandma WAS a food chemist, why do you ask?
MSG in your potato salad? YES! Also, eggs and bacon, because those kids probably skipped breakfast again. But what about those main courses? Will children love them without that monosodium glutamateness?
Best not to find out. Let's let Mary lead her little lamb right to school and right past that school to the slaughterhouse where he'll be turned into a MSG-laden dish the entire family will enjoy. Okay, sure, we're pointing out the MSG, but I'm sure lots of other fancy spices and herbs will go into the preparation of these lamb chops, right? Fancy exotic spices like... salt, and, uh, pepper.
Why you can't spell "hamburgers" without the letters m, s, and g. Try it! You can't! And when your little tenderfoot is feeling particularly adventurous in a culinary sort of way, you can serve him Rodeo Bread-Stuffed Frankfurters, which, judging from the photo, resemble eclairs transformed by atomic radiation into horrors beyond man's comprehension. Eat up!
Re-enact the Little Big Horn battle with your own cast of thousands, and when they're done with the massacreein' they can dig into some pork chops, seasoned with only the finest salt, pepper, and MSG. Of course we know now that "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" is a myth and that monosodium glutamate is a naturally occuring amino acid that delivers a burst of "umami" to the flavor buds of gourmands worldwide with no proven ill effects. However, now we wonder if there have been any scientific studies dealing with people dosed with MSG morning noon and night throughout their formative years, and if so, what were the results? Did a generation of 50s baby boomers grow up reeling from massive MSG overdoses? Are we now suffering the consequences? God help us in the future!
Chicken "Roundups," Fish "Roundups," Baked Beans, nothing is too fancy or too plain that a quarter teaspoon of MSG can't make it better. Now swing your partner! Or we'll round YOU up!
It's almost impossible for our modern eyes to not immediately associate monosodium glutamate with tacky Chinese restaurants serving an Americanized approximation of Asian cuisine, but it takes this recipe book 24 solid pages to get to the pigtails and the dragons and the Chop Suey, proving that there was once a time in American cooking when MSG wasn't seen as a devious Oriental plot, but as an honest to god Miracle of Science.
Glad the Rice Industry finally got out from under the thumb of Big Water.
As we move from the exotic delights of the East to the exotic delights of South Of The Border, remember to beware the firey assault of, let's see, a teaspoon of chili powder, a medium sized green pepper, and, of course, the magic ingredient without which children would be starving across the nation, two tablespoons of fat. And MSG, of course.
But surely there must be at least one of the three or four vaguely ethnic dishes allowed the 50s American palate that would be permitted to exist without the miracle of MSG, surely! Say, spaghetti?
Nope, even Spaghetti and Meat Balls cannot withstand the MSG infiltration. Can't have garlic, though, that's *too* authentic.
Shocked - shocked I say - to discover an entire page of recipes that aren't using monosodium glutamate AT ALL. Maybe this is a misprint. Or maybe we need to just put on our wolf mask and eat our dinner like good little wolf children!
BTW did I mention how charming these Beatrice Derwinski illustrations are? She's terrific.
Well, let's move on from frankfurters and spaghetti and chop suey and into the vegetable section. We all know how hard it is to get those kids to eat their veggies. Is there some sort of magical ingredient available in convenient powder form that we could use to bring out the flavor of these dishes?
Yes there is and it's called MSG and it's in the corn and it's in the green beans and it's in the tomatoes. If you're lactose intolerant, take note of this corn recipe, which starts with creamed corn, adds milk and butter, and then is garnished with more butter at the casserole stage. Of course it's the 1950s, lactose intolerance hadn't been invented yet. So, suffer.
What's the grimmest part of this page - the half-hearted copyright infringment of the Mickey Mouse balloon, the Cell Block H photograph of the "picture puzzle sandwich with fried chicken" dinner plate, or the maddening persistence of monosodium glutamate injected into every possible meal?
Do you need to win new friends for spinach? Well, we're gonna get a little crazy here with the eggs, the butter, the onion, and put on your protective eyewear when the nutmeg comes out! If this - and some MSG - can't get YOUR little Popeye to eat his spinach, well, that's all I got, I can't help you any further. You might try writing the good people at the Monosodium Glutamate Council and ask them if there are any further uses for this miracle food additive. In the meantime, pass the plate of Rodeo Bread-Stuffed Frankfurters, please!
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