Ever wondered how you'd cook a kangaroo tail? Pickle a chicken? Dish up some delicious doves? Maybe you've always wanted to create the ultimate in condiments: rose cream.
If you said yes to any of these questions, I've got good news for you. In this installment of 'From the Depths of Central Library', there is a book that has all that information and more. The book itself is rather small and unassuming at first glance. The library's copy is, like many of the paperbacks purchased in the 1960s, rebound in a plain-color library hard binding. So sadly, it doesn't look at all like this cover:
But the important thing is that what's inside that cover is still pretty preserved. This admittedly isn't too surprising: The book was last checked out from the library in 1973. You probably have your doubts that a book that hasn't been checked out since all four Beatles were still alive has much to offer you. Bear with me, there is a lot to like about this little book: Some Heads Have Stomachs.
Yes, that title is seriously weird. For me, it conjures up the image of a disembodied head, dragging along a cartoony pink stomach like some horrific Penanggalan. The heads the title refers to are not, however, human heads, but governmental heads (and we all know that most politicians can't be considered human, much like lawyers and people who talk during movies). The author, Jean-Louis Brindamour, sent out 180 letters to various heads of government all across the world. He asked them about their favorite foods and if they'd reply with an autographed recipe. 71 of those contacted replied (mainly via their secretaries), and the most interesting of these replies are reproduced in the book. This makes the book very unique for that reason: you get to see official letterheads and signatures for many countries and their heads of state from around the late fifties. There's even a letter with a huge paragraph, solely describing the food preferences of Chiang Kai-shek! That's a unique and seriously interesting slice of history, and one you'll probably only find in this unassuming little book.
Also of note are the recipes included. Some are, in fact, recipes that these various politicians had sent back to Mr. Brindamour, but there are more than a few that he received instead by contacting embassies and other sources when those politicians could not include a recipe. These range all over the place, including the aforementioned pickled chicken, kangaroo tail soup, and the like. It's another slice of history, though the recipes supplied by the actual politicians are far more interesting than the rote traditional ones supplied from elsewhere.
So come one, come all: this book might not have left the library in forty years (and that actually won't be changing - as we're the only library for hundreds of miles to own a copy, we're keeping this gem reference only), but that doesn't mean you can't see it. You'll have to come to the downtown Central Library at 814 W. Wisconsin Avenue to take a look, but it will be more than worth it to do so. And don't forget to take a peek into the other cookbooks from bygone days available as well!
Tim @ Central