Quarter Life Crisis

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So schmeckt’s besser

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Yay, my mum recently brought along a spare copy of the so schmeckt’s besser cookbook. I think it has been used by both my mum and my grandmum for ever and it covers a wide range of normal recipes. It also has an interesting and very wide format and a bright colour which always makes it stand out.

So Schmeckt's besser Cover

The very wide format is odd at first, but it’s actually a very clever thing for two reasons: Firstly, you frequently don’t have a lot of space on your work surface while cooking. This makes it difficult to put the cookbook on there - particularly if you are using a large chopping board and need to handle things like large dishes as well. However, you can always fit a book like this at the back of your work surface behind all the stuff you are using for work. If your eyesight is in reasonably good shape you may even be able to read it there…

Secondly, despite being a hardcover, the book’s binding is nice and flexible which means the book opens flatly on the table with no danger of the pages accidentally flipping over. That certainly improves the usability of the book, and I imagine that the very wide pages also help achieving this.

Stoves presented in the cookbook

I quite like the book’s design as well. It is all of interesting, clean and useful. Just as it should be. With the pages being split horizontally into two columns, the narrow outer one of which contains the list of ingredients and names of the dishes while the wide inner one includes the short instructions. Simple lines are used as separators and Univers and Garamond are used as typefaces (the Garamond with the IMO ugly italics, though). All very reasonable, functional and simple. Hooray for German design in 1967.

Interestingly the book was published by Siemens, Germany’s favourite corporation for making everything from high-speed trains, to telephones with the shittest (I guess that’s a word these days) user interfaces, to nuclear power plants, to household machines. In fact, it seems that the purpose of this cookbook was to make housewives comfortable with the wonders that are electric stoves, blenders and other utilities. Hence you’ll quite frequently see Siemens’ (and occasionally other companies’) equipment in the background of the photos in there. But it’s still a reasonably useful cookbook - unlike the stuff you’d get these days. (However - as my mum informed me - the book’s index is a piece of crap [my words].)

Page with recipes for a 'Party of Herrenabend'

Being a few decades old, the book also carries the style and thinking of that age. The photos have that yellowish 1970s look and - while doubtlessly being specifically arranged - do not have the shine and lifelessness of today’s food photography. There is grease, there are non-white dishes, there are backgrounds to be seen.

But what’s best are the chapter names which not only display the sexism of the age by describing kitchen tools as Das Handwerkszeug der Hausfrau - the housewife’s tools, by suggesting snacks for a Herrenabend without a female equivalent or by providing a chapter Gerichte für Junggesellen - dishes for bachelors. Oh my, how times have changed! The lazy bachelors all grow fat on frozen pizza these days, and this paragraph won’t be able to fit a full elaboration of my own 21st century culinary misogeny

Page with dishes for bachelors

Example recipes seen around here: Träubletorte, Biskuitrolle.

October 21, 2008, 0:25

Tagged as book, cookbook, food, recipe, so schmeckts besser.

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