"FROM 'CHITLIN'S' TO ESCARGOT… FROM CORN PONE TO CREPES"
MUNSON, Bessie. Bless the Cook. (Fort Worth, TX): 1978. Octavo, original orange wrappers, spiral bound as issued.
First edition of a wonderful collection of recipes by the beloved African American chef and community leader, with hundreds of recipes that evoke the "warmth of the family meals" from her Texas childhood and her years as a leading restaurateur, including Chitterlings, Soul Nuggets, Mother' Viola's Divinity, Okra Tomato Gumbo, Eatin' is Believin' Dill Pickles, Sweet Potato Cake and much more, with six pages of color illustrations and family pictures, rear wrapper with a color image of Munson, urging all to "eat well with joy and contentment."
Bessie Munson learned to cook in the kitchens of her mother and grandmother, and became a leading chef who owned her own Fort Worth restaurant and catering business. The year after Bless the Cook was published, she received the Pioneer Business Woman's Award from the Negro Business and Professional Women's Club. The book's enticing recipes and menus are interwoven with lively anecdotes from Munson's family, her years in California where she worked with children and catered for celebrities such as Groucho Marx and Rock Hudson, and her return to a successful business in Texas. The over 20 sections in Bless the Cook include recipes for regional favorites and unique dishes, including Sea Food Gumbo, Sweet Potato Cake, Hot Water Corn Pone, Escargot, Peanut Butter French Oven Toast, Dixie Ham Kabobs, Chese Grits, True Mexican Chili, Alvertis' Turnip Greens, Ann's Incomparable Butterscotch Meringue Pie, and much more. Munson, who is pictured on the colorful rear wrapper above her printed signature, brings a strong love of family and community to her cookbook, which also includes a series of color plates that chronicle family gatherings, weddings, her cooking classes, and lively seasonal celebrations. First edition, first printing: with laid-in printed leaf of "corrections" to a few select recipes, and the description of a photograph herein: "taken at my daughter Sheila's wedding reception… of my friend and editor, Helen Layton." This copy is inscribed by Munson's editor Helen Layton with a date of "Sept. 10, '79." The inscription, which follows a charming sketch, reads, "Friends since 1962. To Georgia—dearest friend—… from 'chitlin's' to escargot… from corn pone to crepes—Good Cooking & Happy Eating [sketch of heart with an arrow] Helen!"
Interior very fresh, faint rubbing to bright wrappers. A fine copy.