Film archivist and food lover Jenny Hammerton suggests the perfect dish to accompany your screening of a Hollywood classic. Simply follow the recipe to enjoy a dinner with a twist and dine like a star.
In 1927 an announcement was made by Photoplay Magazine’s Department of Personal Service. Resident agony aunt Carolyn Van Wyck had taken some time out from giving friendly advice on the many and varied problems of the flappers of the day, to write a cook book.
The no-nonsense Carolyn had gathered together the favourite recipes of 100 of the magazine’s most admired movie stars for the delight and delectation of film fans. It was pitched as an “invaluable aid to the girl who likes to give parties” and was available mail order for the princely sum of 25 cents. In today’s money that’s about £2.50 – what a bargain for a book that contained recipes by megastars such as Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. If you would like to score a copy today, there’s one on ebay as I write for £30. This later edition of the cookbook contains 150 recipes, so would have been even better value for money at 25 cents back in the roaring twenties.
The cook book is full of charming asides by Carolyn. Of Clara Bow’s Chicken Chartreuse she says: “try it on the boy-friend”. Greta Garbo’s Swedish Salad is deemed to have “sex appeal” and Gwen Lee’s Potato Omelet is considered to be, “another reason why Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. If you wish to have beautiful arms, Carolyn suggests making May Allison’s Virginia Beaten Biscuits as “there is as much exercise in this recipe as in a set of tennis”.
Carolyn points out throughout the book that movie stars were often watching their weight, so recipes for healthy salads and vegetable based dishes abound. For dessert, Estelle Taylor’s Montmarte Non-fattening Peach Ice Cream was “in great vogue with the picture people who crave ice cream and are not permitted it because of added poundage”. But sometimes Carolyn advises her readers to throw caution to the wind and have a treat such as Pola Negri’s Banana Trifle. She points out that “Miss Negri laughs at calories when she eats this” and we should do so too!
Of the “potpourri of international dishes” to be found in the Photoplay Cook Book, I selected Mary Astor’s Celery Crisps to make for Bibelot. I liked the idea of these, as I often buy a head of celery, use a couple of sticks for a recipe and then the rest languishes in the salad drawer for weeks. This seemed a nifty way of using up the leftovers.
Mary Astor’s Celery Crisps
Scrape and wash medium sized, tender celery stalks. Cut into strips about four inches. Boil in slightly salted water until tender. Drain and set aside until cold. Then dip each celery stalk into egg yolk, roll in cracker dust or wholewheat crushed crumbs and fry in very hot butter until brown. Place in a hot casserole or deep dish, sprinkle with finely grated cheese and let stand in oven two minutes before serving.
Carolyn says: If you like, you may omit the cheese and serve the crisps on a hot plate instead of en casserole.
Cruelty free list:
Eggs, from Hen Nation www.goodfoodnation.co.uk
Dairy free margarine – We like Pure and Vitalite from health food shops and most supermarkets.
Most supermarkets now stock their own brands too!
Vegan cheese – Our favourite is Vegusto. Available from health food shops.
Eating and drinking like the stars of yesteryear…
For more famous foodie delights, visit Jenny’s blog