Even our cook books are getting fat

Pax Arcana

joy_cookingFor those who are clueless in the kitchen — insert slow nod with one eyebrow lifted at Father Scott  — there is no better resource for self-education than The Joy of Cooking.

First published in 1931, The Joy of Cooking is basically the gold standard of American recipe volumes. It won’t have saffron and demi glace braised lamb’s tongue, but it will show you how to cook a brisket or bake a strawberry/rhubarb pie.

But according to nutrition researchers, the recipes in The Joy of Cooking have gotten just as fat as we have:

Published as a letter Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the report examined 18 classic recipes found in seven editions of the book from 1936 to 2006. It found that calorie counts for 14 of the recipes have ballooned by an average of 928 calories, or 44%, per recipe. And serving sizes have grown as well.Take beef stroganoff: In the 1997 edition, the recipe called for three tablespoons of sour cream. The 2006 edition calls for one cup.

Then there’s waffles: In 1997, the basic recipe made 12 six-inch waffles; in 2006, the same ingredients made about six waffles.

Overall, the scientists found, changes in ingredients and serving sizes led to a 63% increase in calories per serving in 17 of the recipes between 1936 and 2006.

In my opinion, the problem here is not that The Joy of Cooking is publishing more fattening recipes. The problem is that they are pretending they are the same recipes that have always been there. That’s why I prefer a little-known cookbook called Modern Applaychian Cookery and Taxidurmy: Furst Addition. Did you know you can suck the cream out of a Twinkie with a syringe and replace it with a slurry of mayonnaise and diced Funyuns? It’s true! Six or seven of those and you’re ready to meet the workday, my friend.

‘Joy of Cooking’ or ‘Joy of Obesity?’ [LA Times]

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