The Celluloid Pantry: Barbecue at Twelve Oaks, “Gone With the Wind” Cook Book, and Gone With the Wind (1939)
“Fiddle dee-dee! Ashley Wilkes says he likes to see a girl with a healthy appetite.”
-Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind (1939)
Barbecue, toothpaste, and movie tie-ins. Over here at The Celluloid Pantry, we’re doing things a little differently today.
Browsing through the sometimes jumbled, but always fascinating stacks at Bonnie Slotnick Cook Books in NYC, we happened upon a copy of “Gone With the Wind” Cook Book: Famous Southern Cooking Recipes (New York: Abbeville Press, 1991). It was an affordably priced facsimile edition in hardcover. The highly collectible original, we learned from Ms. Slotnick, was a stapled booklet, issued soon after the film’s 1939 release as a free gift with purchase of a now-defunct toothpaste called Pebeco.
It comes as no surprise that the recipes from this old-time movie tie-in are more in keeping with 1939 tastes than antebellum ones: Ingredients such as canned tomato soup, catsup, and Worcestershire sauce are tossed in liberally with tinned crabmeat and margarine. Character-named dishes such as “Mammy’s Creole Rice,” “Melanie’s Sweet Potato Pie,” and “Aunt Pittypat’s Cream Scones” add to the hokey fun.
And while this full-on, full-fat Southern cooking appears to fly in the face of Mammy’s (Hattie McDaniel) scold to Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) the day of the Twelve Oaks barbecue: “I done told you and told you, you can always tell a lady by the way she eats in front of people – like a bird. And I ain’t aimin’ to have you go over to Mista John Wilkes’ house and eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog,” the Party Suggestions at the front of the 1939 booklet head off any qualms female readers might have about deportment:
“Ladies may eat heartily in public today and still be ladies—for we have learned to depend on athletics, and not on tight lacing to keep a seventeen-inch waist line!”
4 lbs spareribs
2 medium-sized onions, sliced
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup catsup
3/4 cup water
2 Tbs vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp chili powder
Arrange spareribs in large baking dish or roaster. Add onions, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over spareribs. Cover, and bake in moderate oven (350 F) about 1 ½ hours, basting frequently. Remove cover, and bake 20 minutes longer.