Friday, July 7, 2017

The Diners' Club Cookbook by Myra Waldo (1959)

The Diners' Club Card was the first independent credit card in the world, created in 1950. It started as a group that allowed patrons to charge a meal at a participating group of restaurants. It had 20,000 members by the end of 1950, and more than doubled in 1951. It wasn't until the late 1960's when the cards that would become VISA and MasterCard challenged its dominance.

It makes sense then that in 1959 they would come out with a Diners' Club Cookbook. Advertising and product both! Myra Waldo was an experienced cookbook author (her Pan American's Complete Round-The-World Cookbook had come out in 1954), and they pulled in recipes from Diners' Club restaurants all over the US.

As a cookbook...well, it really is a classic list-of-recipes cookbook. There is a long introduction from the Vice President of Diners' Club, Inc., and then a short author's note, and then the recipes. "Great Recipes from Great Restaurants."  They sound just fine. Myra Waldo did her job and made sure that they are laid out correctly and are easy to follow. But that's it.

Personally, I like cookbooks that give me a little more to chew on. The restaurants are credited -- what kind of restaurants were they? Why this recipe?  I can understand why the recipe that represents Pea Soup Andersen's is the Pea Soup, but why is Michael's in Minneapolis represented by Curried Shrimp?  This may be best as a history reference. I don't believe that the two restaurants mentioned as being in Minneapolis, Michael's and Country House, were still here when I arrived in 1987.  Searching online I can find a Michael's in *Rochester* that was old enough but closed in 2014. The only reference I can find to Country House is in a comment to an MPR News blog in 2011.

It's a nice little cookbook, and I might even try a recipe or two. But it doesn't have enough going for it for me to put it on a "Must Have" list.

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