Exhibit Explores Cooks, Books, and Popular Culture

An exhibit featuring more than 70 vintage cookbooks, pamphlets, and food-related brochures will provide a flavorful overview of American history and society through the culinary arts. “Changing Tastes: Cooks, Books, and Popular Culture in Twentieth Century America" will run from February 16 through April 28.

The exhibit will be held in the Rosenberg Reading Room the Archbishop Alemany Library. The library is open from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1:30 p.m until 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The library will be closed February 18.

The exhibit will focus primarily on American cookbooks from the 20th century, a time period characterized by major challenges, two world wars, expanding technology, important social movements in racial equality and women’s rights, and the beginning of a new health-based approach to food cultivation and preparation.

“Cookbooks serve as remarkable indicators of historical and socio-cultural factors and concerns,” said exhibit curator Dr. Leslie Ross, professor and chair of art history at Dominican University of California. “In all periods of history, who we are can be seen by what we eat.”

The materials will be arranged thematically by topics such as: Modern Conveniences, Step-Savers, Tips from Mid Century, Events and Trends, Betty Crocker: An American Icon, and The Original Food Celebrities.

The exhibit also will feature books and brochures extolling the benefits of  “Cooking with Electricity," how to create glorious salads using Jell-O, fast and easy meals using Campbell’s Soup and evaporated milk, and how to create meals with modern conveniences such as pressure cookers and blenders

The star of the show is the fictional and iconic figure of Betty Crocker. Other food celebrities whose work will be on display include James Beard, Julia Child, Adelle Davis, Fannie Farmer, and Graham Kerr.