Thursday, February 19, 2015

Object of the Day: Arlene Francis’ “No Time for Cooking,” 1961

The doyenne of early television, Arlene Francis, was involved in so many things—Broadway, film, lavish parties and mixing with the most elite of the elite. She was also, it seems, a fan of vacuum-packed meats as evidenced by her 1961 sort-of cookbook, No Time for Cooking.

Of course, more than a real cookbook, this was a multi-page ad for FlexVac of New Jersey who made their living sealing cold cuts and other perishable products into slick, plastic shrouds. They got themselves a star to sell their meat cozies, and they produced this book.

It’s rather bizarre. Taking into account that the worlds of cuisine and food styling have changed over the last sixty years, it’s still quite odd and quasi revolting. There are some perfectly normal things, like Eggs Benedict (which employs packaged ham to its fullest) and, then, there are…

Well, let’s look. Shall we?

“I’m Arlene Francis. Before I take my Lucy Ricardo dress to go see Dorothy Kilgallen, I like to bring her a basket full of vacuum-sealed meats. She loves the cold cuts, you know. I just know that she and I will be friends until we’re both really old. Here’s to Dorothy Kilgallen and here’s to my friends at FlexVac! I love packaged meat! How delightful.”

“This looks normal. Right? It’s breakfast. Nothing strange here at all. How delightful.”

“I love to eat pudding in my living room. Look! Someone made a pineapple totem poll! How delightful!” 

“Even artificial birds in whimsical cages love a good loaf. This loaf of an unidentifiable meat has been wrapped in fat! I love loaf! And these Long Island Iced Teas help it go down really smoothly.  How delightful!”

“Nothing says ‘Midnight in Manhattan’ like an elegant tureen filled with beans and carefully-arranged, dissected wieners. I’m sure my guests won’t recoil in horror when they see this. How delightful!”

“When my friends at FlexVac asked me to write this book, I jumped at the chance. Whatever did we do before we had the pleasures of vacuum-sealed meat? It’s delightful. Right?”

No time for cooking


Darcy said...

How delightful! I just finished reading this and I'm still laughing. I've really missed these tasty morsels of humor.
Welcome back!

Joseph Crisalli said...

Thank you, Darcy! Remember, whenever anyone asks you "What's my Line?" say "Vacuum-packed meat."