A Meaty Memento Mori

Some collectors focus on broad categories. I prefer something more specific: vintage recipe booklets with the word “meat” in the title.

Aftertaste

Some kitchen collectors focus on broad categories, like toasters or Fiestaware. I prefer something more specific: vintage recipe booklets with the word “meat” in the title.

Produced from the 1930s through the 1960s by the National Live Stock and Meat Board, the marketing pamphlets were distributed at butcher shops and grocery stores.

Running 24 to 36 pages, they boast colorfully kitschy covers, recipes that sound like dares (“Stuffed Crown Roast of Frankfurters” or “Sweet-and-Sour Beef Heart” anyone?), and occasional product pitches (why settle for plain lard when you can use Kingan’s Tasti-Creamed?). They offer a window into a bygone era of American cooking, when lamb shoulder was shaped into “mock duck” and it was every housewife’s duty to memorize cow and pig butchery charts.

Like any good collection, mine is greater than the sum of its parts. As I page through the booklets, the slow-build repetition of the word “meat” takes on near-metaphysical properties: Ideas with Meat, Calendar of Meat Recipes, New Notes in Meat, Meat Recipes You’ll Talk About, A Treasury of Meat Recipes, All About Meat—the word echoes like a carnivore’s mantra.

 

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Paul Lukas lives in Park Slope and has written for The New York Times, Saveur, American Way, Money and ESPN.com, among many other outlets. His meat booklet collection, which has been exhibited at the City Reliquary in Williamsburg, is up to about 60 booklets.