Monday, June 10, 2013

The Motorist’s Luncheon

Slow Food, 1923

The Motorist’s Luncheon Book, May E. Southworth’s delightful little volume, harkens to an age before fast food chains edged the highways. Preparation for a road trip required more than assembling a few water bottles and gassing up the SUV.  She presents page after page of menus to ease the hunger pangs of weary road warriors.

As Ms. Southworth says on page 1,

“In assembling your outfit it is necessary that you have a wary eye on the ‘mess kit’ or you may find yourself, like the Peri, perishing just outside the gates of some woodsy paradise. These ‘eats’ of the motorist are a life-saving necessity and have grown to be too important a part of he equipment to be left to the hit-or-miss style of picking up any old thing that happens to be in the house.

The design of this little book is not recipes, but only an endeavor to lighten the burden of the one whose task it is to cater to these joy hampers and fill them full, for who ever knew a motorist to arrive except in a starving condition?”

Don’t leave home without … gherkins?
In concluding her introduction, she lists emergency supplies. Coffee, chocolate, cheese and crackers all seem good to me—but canned pineapple, gherkins, and pancake flour? She must have been quite the road-trip hostess!

Roadtrip Menus

There are menus to be prepared on the campfire, and cold picnics accompanied by hot beverages stored in a thermos, as well as cold picnics with cold beverages. The “chafing dish” section offers menus that would challenge this writer on the home stove, including, for example, chop suey with rice, buttered rolls, pickled broccoli, hot Ceylon tea and eclairs. And then there’s the chafing dish menu of Waldorf chicken, Dixie biscuits, sweet butter, shredded halibut and slivers of red button radishes served on lettuce leaves with mayonnaise, mocha cake, saline snowflakes, canned sliced peaches, scotch short cakes, loganberry juice combined with Napa Soda, praline almonds and salted pecan meats. 

No-Meat Fridays

For each section – campfire, thermos, cold, and chafing dish – there is also a Friday section, featuring fish but no meat.

Girth Control

Finally, from the nothing-new-under-the-sun department, the back jacket cover includes an advertisement for another book also published by Harper & Brothers:   

To see the book itself, visit the California Historical Society’s North Baker Research Library and ask for: May E. Southworth, The Motorists’s Luncheon Book. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1923.

Eileen Keremitsis
Reference Staff
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