I won't be cooking the turkey this year -- I'll leave that one to my mother. (Let's all give pause to the women -- and men -- who will be cooking up a storm this week. Let's also give thanks for shared recipes that get passed down through cultures and generations.)
Eons ago back in July, I made German Sauerbraten and I mentioned The Art of German Cooking author, Betty Wason. I also promised to tell you more about this fascinating lady.
I picked up this book at a thrift store for a whole dollar -- I have a thing for old cookbooks (especially bargains) and figured this one could actually come in handy with some practical recipes.
I perused the anecdotes to the stories and was a little transfixed. This woman could write. I mean it's one thing to write a recipe... it's quite another to offer the reader the added bonus of an entertaining story to go along with it. I just assumed Betty Wason was a great cook who also had a talent for writing.
Her name sounded so familiar to me though.
I delved a little deeper, and then discovered, amongst many other talents, that she had been a war correspondent between 1938-1941. She country-hopped through various invasions, but despite finding the stories on the ground, her employer, CBS, asked her to find a man to read her texts.
Apparently they thought the audience wouldn't be receptive to a woman's voice on air. Later, the man who read her texts was offered a contract. (There is so much more to the story here and here.)
Eventually, when Betty returned home to America, where she was rebuffed by CBS (!) and turned her attention instead to writing books. Her cookbooks are by far the most numerous.
She has also been featured in one of my all-time favorite books: The Women Who Wrote the War by Nancy Caldwell Sorel.
So, as we all gorge ourselves on American goodness this week, let us also give thanks to the amazingly brave and talented women like Betty Wason -- who not only gave us some fantastic recipes from around the world, but who more importantly, reported on events that changed the world forever -- even if they didn't always get the credit.