Well, I was going to go crazy and scan all sorts of pages from this for your benefit and enjoyment, but then I discovered...it’s still in print! Which is a good thing, because it’s a treasure, but it also means it’s copyrighted, so I can’t scan with abandon.
(Update: See update below before you order…it’s apparently not the exact same)
This was one of my mother’s many cookbooks. I don’t think she ever used it, but it was there, stuffed on the shelf between various very mod 60′s volumes about chafing dishes, fondue pots and gelatin molds and such. It was published by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in 1945, and while it doesn’t feature those great woodcuts of which I’m such a fan in earlyish and mid-century Catholic lit, it’s an invaluable glimpse into the era, as the first sentence of the Preface indicates:
This book is an extension of the Missal, Breviary and Ritual because the Christian home is an extension of the Mass, choir and sacramentals.
That era being clearly resistant to stereotype and caricatures of an unengaged laity. As the author herself says in the very next paragraph, We need not shed tears over the past; neither should we exalt the present as the zenith of perfection or condemn it as the nadir of depravity.
Anyway – the first Lent page is below. The text is substantial, the recipes – for the most part – still interesting. On the page that follows this one, the difference between now and then is unmistakable as the author encourages the consumption of whole wheat bread during Lent despite the relatively high cost and difficulty finding it!
There may be a health food store in a town of 1000,000 which bakes a whole grain loaf at 23 cents, but that is not for the majority nor for the poor….
(She recommends, of course, baking it yourself – after you find a miller who can grind the flour for you!)
I’m assuming the new edition is identical to the original – the reviews on the site indicate as much – but no promises, of course, since I’ve not seen it.
So ends the year with Christ in the kitchen. What we have cooked we have made for His glory and the spread of His kingdom. This way of living is but one path which leads our minds and hearts to His love. We have not “feasted sumptuously every day,” but we have held both fast and festival in due season. When great occasions arise, as they do so often in the liturgical year, “it is fit to bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and eat and make merry.” For Christianity is a happiness untold, not only to be tasted at the eternal banquet, but also in some small measure at our little festivals in time. So with Christ at our table may He bless us and say:
“Eat thy bread with joy and
Drink thy wine with gladness,
Because thy works please God.”
Apparently the reprint is not…a reprint. From the comments, Jennifer of the blog “Family Food for Feast and Feria”
This is my favorite cookbook of all time! It’s also my favorite liturgical year book. I based my whole history undergrad thesis on this book and the publisher, NCRLC. I’ve written about this book several times,http://familyfoodfeastandferia.wordpress.com/2006/04/19/my-favorite-cookbook/, this being my sadly neglected food blog.
This book stemmed from the Liturgical Movement, and was the first American Catholic cookbook of its kind. All other liturgical cookbooks that follow never reach the heights of this book. It’s so family oriented, and helps connect the American to her rich Catholic culture. But Florence Berger makes you realize this isn’t a dead culture, not looking back in the past, but it’s a living connection, because we are part of the Mystical Body.
Sadly, the book that is currently being reprinted is not the original. All the recipes are revised, and if that isn’t good enough, the text is edited, chopped up, and lovely bits and pieces are removed. You will get some taste of the beautiful book, but not the fullness of the original. I can’t understand how they can label it a reprint if it’s fully revised. I’ve compared the original with the revised and just cried to see how much was changed.
While this book does not treat only Florence Berger’s books, “Cultivating Soil and Soul: Twentieth-century Catholic Agrarians Embrace the Liturgical Movement” by Michael J. Woods gives some background history “Cooking for Christ” that I find so interesting! The entire book is wonderful as it really gives an understanding of the Liturgical movement and the connections and role of the NCRLC.