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The Austerity Kitchen
By Christine Baumgarthuber
Where the alimentary is elementary.
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Cooperative Kitchens of Yesteryear


Our Famous Women 11

Socialism in one country may be a difficult undertaking, but socialism in many American country towns was as easy as pie — and just as appetizing

My schedule having become busier, making dinner is now a chore. Before, I’d found a certain serenity in chopping carrots and slicing tomatoes after a day of brainwork. Now, vegetables oppress me, especially as my CSA share has been unusually full of late. Against them I mobilize food processor and pressure cooker. Yet these implements must be hauled from the cupboard, assembled, disassembled, and cleaned. Then there’s the cooking, eating, and cleaning up.

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Belly Up

Der menschliche Koerper

“It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says, ‘Work!’ After beefsteak and porter, it says, ‘Sleep!’ After a cups of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don’t let it stand more than three minutes), it says to the brain, ‘Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature and into life; spread out your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!’

“After hot muffins, it says, ‘Be dull and soulless, like a beast of the field — a brainless animal, with listless eye, unlit by any ray of fancy, or of hope, or fear, or love, or life.’ And after brandy, taken in sufficient quantity, it says, ‘Now, come, fool, grin and tumble, that your fellow men may laugh — drivel in folly, and splutter in senseless sounds, and show what a helpless ninny is poor man whose wit and will are drowned, like kittens, side by side, in half an inch of alcohol.’

“We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach. Reach not after morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, and diet it with care and judgement. Then virtue and contentment will come and reign within your heart, unsought by any effort of your own; and you will be a good citizen, a loving husband, and a tender father — a noble, pious man.” –Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (1917)

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How Early Cookbooks Sparked a Lifestyle Revolution

The discreet charms of the bourgeoisie owe something to the attractions of life as conjured by cookbook authors

A Manual of Domestic Economy 3

Each year I vow to buy fewer books, especially cookbooks. And yet each week I find myself bringing home two or three new ones. I find them — or rather they find me — in the usual places: yard sales, flea markets, used bookstores, Goodwill. Earlier this summer I had to stop myself from saving some volumes of Time Life’s Foods of the World series, which I already own, from a “free pile” outside the Peaks Island branch of the Portland public library. They were eventually pulped, no doubt.

What is it about cookbooks that makes them so irresistible?

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