Saturday, May 18, 2024

Book cover: "Will Eisner's Gleeful Guide to Occult Cookery"

Here's a curiosity from the wild and wacky 1970s. Between this and the Lovely post, you might think things are getting too racy here on Papergreat. But it's just a coincidence. I'm doing my best to keep it a PG-13 blog.

  • Title: Will Eisner's Gleeful Guide to Occult Cookery
  • Subtitle: The Saucerer's Apprentice (the first of many, many puns to groan at)
  • Additional cover text: "Brimful with tasty, enchanting recipes anyone can make in any average modern kitchen — each carefully selected to be used in casting spells, leveling curses and causing supernatural results in money and sexual affairs!"
  • Author and illustrator: Will Eisner (1917-2005), previously featured in a post regarding Will Eisner's Spirit Casebook Of True Haunted Houses And Ghosts.
  • Editor: Ivan Klapper
  • Recipes by: Judy Mann
  • Dimensions: 8½ inches by 11 inches
  • Publication date: 1974
  • Publisher: Poorhouse Press. According to the Lambiek Comiclopedia, the other books Eisner did with Poorhouse Press in the mid 1970s included The Gleeful Guide to Communicating with Plants to Help Them Grow; Incredible Facts, Amazing Statistics, Monumental Trivia; Living With Astrology; and How To Avoid Death & Taxes ... and Live Forever.
  • Format: Paperback
  • Original publication: January 1969, by Doubleday & Company
  • Pages: 64
  • Cover price: $1.95
  • Excerpt from the introduction: "OCCULT COOKERY is designed for the middle-of-the-road citizen who has never consciously compounded a curse or cast a spell ... but would like to know how. If you've ever suspected that a strange psychic force was toying with your fate, or yearned to possess the extraordinary power to alter the lives of friends and foes, this book is for YOU! OCCULT COOKERY is dedicated to the adventurous soul who would like to manipulate others. For good or evil. The anem of this magical force is WITCHCRAFT. You've heard of it, of course. But have you ever really believed it existed? ... Much help in this eerie enterprise was supplied by Judith Mann, a young sauceress and a no-nonsense professional caterer. She furnished all the recipes, which have been scrupulously tested for practicality."
  • Recipe names: These names, paired with Eisner's illustrations, are the best part of the book. Here's a large sampling: Bookie Bouillon, Miserable Mulligatawny, Adultery Ghoulash, Pox Meat Loaf, Wrack of Lamb, Drop-Dead Duck, Swamp-Bottom Lobster, Evil-Eye Eel, Toad Stool Flounder, Amorous Beef Stroganoff, Intercourse Pheasant, Grapes of Wraith Salad, Forbidden Zucchini, Fornication Fondue, Lust or Bust SoufflĂ©, Gnome Cake, Inhuman Burgers 'n' Beans, Shrimp Psych-Out, Orgasmic Tidbittys, Cream Obscene, Ghastly Cake, Noodle Nut Necromancy, Chicken Caligula, Rigid Cheese Digits, Agony Niblets, Salmon Succubus, Lost Sole Fillets (groan), ESP Tea, Dracula Toddy and Warlock Wine. 
  • Trigger warnings: The book is absolutely a product of its time, containing some offensive material and often using references to sexual assault for "humor."
  • Cranky Amazon review: In 2015, Maine Rose wrote: "Not amusing, not interesting, not a good read — nothing."
  • More forgiving Amazon review: In 2019, Oldman437 wrote: "The chapter titles are cute, like 'Magic Charms' or 'Terrible Curses' with recipes for Adultery Ghoulash and Drop-Dead Duck. This book was published in the early '70s, so some of the ingredients are no longer fashionable (e.g. real butter, vermouth, etc.), but each recipe we made was delicious — and that's how I judge a cookbook."

Here are two pages from the book, complete with their recipes, followed by a couple more recipes.
Fornication Fondue
(which surprises me, because it's a non-cheese fondue)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Melt butter in a saucepan; saute onions until transparent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Noodle Nut Necromancy
  • 2 lb. broad noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 4 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups toasted almonds
  • 1 cup white raisins, plumped in hot water
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Separate noodes with a fork; add sour cream, grated lemon and orange rinds, sguar, almonds and raisins. Blend well with a wooden spoon, being careful not to mash noodles. turn into a serving casserole and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sunday evening miscellany

1. Here's a photo of me in my dorm room at Penn State University in October 1992 — 31½ years ago (yikes). I'm not sure of the reason for that expression on my face. Turtlenecks and sweaters were part of my wardrobe for a long, long time, but they are obviously a thing of the past now that I live in the Arizona desert. That's a MicroFridge behind me. According to a September 1990 article in The Daily Collegian (the student newspaper I worked at for four years), the MicroFridges were first offered that year to seniors and graduate students for $32 per semester. They were subsequently offered to underclassmen. The units weighed 87 pounds and saved power by turning the refrigerator off when the microwave is in use. In the background is my very messy desk, with my USFL Philadelphia Stars cap hanging from the lamp.

2. The Guardian last week had an article about all the interesting things Jonny Greenwood is involved with, including the score for the new Paul Thomas Anderson film that will come out on IMAX in the summer of 2025. Greenwood's love of music and instruments is contagious. At one point he had an opportunity to examine some of the oldest church organs in Europe, and his passion for the topic just pours through in this quote:
“I was able to actually play some of these amazing medieval instruments. The internal parts — what they call the ‘brain’ — are these incredibly complex pieces of technology. These huge machines, created centuries ago, were tackling the same challenges of synthesis and sampling and sound reproduction that we struggle with today. ... I love the idea that these ancient churches have centuries of sounds that have almost soaked into the walls and the organ pipes. Just looking around those Italian churches, you saw organs that summon up remarkable histories. Some of them have double sets of black keys, so the F sharp and the G flat keys are slightly different — as it would be in natural temperament. Some have keys which play percussion. One church in Comunanza, near the Sibillini mountains, has an organ with a little water tank that enables the organist to make this burbling noise that imitates birdsong. There was another church where Mozart is supposed to have visited and played the organ, so we were all rubbing the keys excitedly! Every church organ on Earth will have years of history embedded in it.”

3. I recently stumbled upon the existence of this nine-book 1970s Dracula series by Robert Lory. (And he published all nine books within three years!) Mostly, I think everything about the covers is amazing. Has anyone read these? How are they? A 2022 post on the website Fonts in Use by Florian Hardwig shows the covers in all their glory and indicates that the titles are done in Quaint Roman, a font that dates to 1890. 

There are plenty of (spoiler-filled) reviews out there on Amazon, Goodreads, Reddit and various blogs, if you want to know more about the series, which sounds like it's a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously.

I like the 2011 post on the My Monster Memories blog, which may be in danger of becoming a Lost Corner of the Internet. Frederick writes: 

"My grandma's house was a few miles from a small bookstore called Bill's on Ingleside Ave in Macon, GA. As a young teen, when visiting her house on the weekend, I would sometimes walk the distance to look for the latest issue of The Monster Times or other cool magazines. After all, they had a better selection than the closer-to-home drugstore where I usually went. One summer, in 1973, I came upon the first in the Dracula Horror Series titled 'Dracula Returns,' and had read it nearly halfway through on the walk back to her house. It's a wonder I made it without getting run over, but I was pretty good at walking and reading. I still recall exactly where I was in the book at particular points as I walked home, passing under the oaks draped with spanish moss, blowing in the faint breeze."

These books are precisely the kind of treasures I go looking for when I have the opportunity to spend an afternoon in a used book store.

4. Finally, enjoy this photo of four cats tucked into a cat bed (from top: Spice, Autumn, Nebula and Bounds, aka Osmond Portifoy) ... 

Weird Ramen

I was at Walmart recently to stock up on cat food when I saw a display filled with these two "Limited Edition" ramen noodle cups from Nissin. There's "Breakfast," which is artificially flavored with maple syrup pancakes, sausage and eggs. And "Everything Bagel," with cream cheese and artificial flavors.

The display case was full. I was probably the first person who approached it.

I've been eating a lot of ramen noodles the past year. It's fast and filling, just like when I was in college. And now I enjoy experimenting and adding different things to the soup base: garlic, onions, egg, plant-based meatballs, parmesan, Old Bay, paprika and other stuff. (I even tried peanut butter once.) I've never thought to craft a bowl that tasted like breakfast or a cream-cheese bagel, but now I have that opportunity, thanks to Nissin. Unsurprising, Nissin once had a limited edition Pumpkin Spice ramen cup, but I missed that when it rolled around. I'm not sorry.

I've featured some odd foods on Papergreat occasionally over the years, mostly gelatins/apsics and some posts about deviled ham. One of these days I'd like to do some deep dives into mid-century and especially 1970s food products and packaging. There's so much weirdness to mine and discuss there. I mean, just look at this!
Goblin meat pudding (Goblin was the company name, not the type of meat. I think.)