New Delhi: Supreme Press, 1956. First edition. Original quarter red cloth over gray boards with title to front. Mild offsetting to front and rear boards; gentle shelfwear particularly to top of rear board. Front hinge tender but holding well. Bookplate of George Ann Newcomb and ink ownership signature of Lucille Komora to front pastedown. Collates , [2, contents], 127, , 132-154, [10, blanks]. Internally clean, bearing no signs of use or of the kitchen spatter typical in volumes of this genre. With no other copies on the market and OCLC reporting only 9 known in institutions, this multi-lingual culinary text is a research-worthy rarity, and an exceptional example of international women's community cookery.
The post-WWII era was a time of tumult for India and Pakistan, with independence and reorganization causing unrest and cultural division. Less than a decade later, despite having only gained its own independence in 1947, India moved under the States Reorganization Act of 1956 to redraw state and territory borders along linguistic lines. As Hindu and Sikh refugees made their way into New Delhi from Punjab, seeking to find settlement and stability. Emigrants found comfort in shared religion, language, and shared culture. Meanwhile, American women on military and diplomatic bases expressed great concern over the violence and food shortages that were occurring. The present cook book was an attempt not only to raise funds for the aid of Indian families; it was also an attempt to create a sense of friendship across language and culture divides. Prior to the title page, a note printed in cursive states "All proceeds from the sale of this book will go the welfare fund of the American Women's Club of New Delhi to be used for Indian Welfare." Sollid's introduction further unpacks the women's goals, as they compiled recipes that could be cooked with local ingredients, and provided dual English and Hindi translations for all components, from introduction to recipes to index. "The underlying purpose of this cook book is to make available a compilation of recipes whose ingredients are available at the local market," Sollid explains. "It is hoped that our Indian friends who would like to prepare simple, tasty American dishes will find them useful...An attempt has also been made to include representative Indian dishes, because of the keen interest which has been shown in Indian cooking." While Sollid and her club acknowledge that the women's contact will be temporary, she points to the lasting impacts of leaving behind recipes for gingerbread or meringue and taking to the U.S. recipes for samosas and curries. The importance of this exchange goes much deeper than "nostalgia" or "flocking memories." The aftereffects have the potential to make diplomatic global impacts as well, positioning Americans and the West as cultural models and key allies in a region rich with resources. Much like the American Pakistani Cook Book of the same era, the American Hindi Cook Book exposed domestic spaces like the kitchen as more complex and global than they seem. As women come together to cook, their tables become sites of supply chain negotiation, language learning, palate development, and political exchange. A scarce and important culinary work. Very Good + (Item #2662)