Alaska, the Outermost Frontier: Matanuska Cabbages meets my Mother’s insatiable curiosity November 22
The TIME Life series of books Foods of the World is a spectacular compilation of food writing and photography that was published in the early 70’s. The series has 27 cookbooks that combine recipes with food-themed travelogues that demystify and provide cultural context for foods from around the world. Each volume comes in two parts– a photo-based hard cover book and an accompanying spiral-bound booklet with recipes.
The Foods of the World series introduced many Americans, including my mother, to cuisines from around the world. When my father’s work moved them from San Francisco to Columbus, Ohio in April of 1966, my mother, always an adventurous chef, felt as though she had moved to a culinary wasteland. When TIME magazine advertised the Foods of the World series my mother jumped at the opportunity to purchase the books. I have vivid childhood memories of my parents preparing highly exotic menus for their monthy “Dinner Club” gatherings from the recipe sections of the series.
Twenty years later I still find these books to be totally captivating and I regularly pull them off the bookshelf to peruse. The above picture is from the book American Cooking: The Northwest, written by Dale Brown with photography by Richard Meck. It is included in chapter one; Alaska, the Outermost Frontier. The caption for the photo reads:
“A cabbage from the Matanuska Valley dwarfs Mrs. John Bush, who grew it in her kitchen garden. The 35-pound giant had a stem too thick and tough to cut with a knife or sickle, and had to be sawed through. A hybrid variety grown primarily for display, the cabbage set no records despite its weight; in seasons past Mrs. Bush has raised cabbages of almost 70 pounds.”