October 23, 2005

Hunt's Mini Italian Recipe Book

Let's "Cook Italian" with Hunt's Tomato Paste (24 pages) is a cute little recipe booklet that gives an abbreviated course in cooking Italian-style. It's not dated, but appears to be circa 1950's-1960's.

Part of it's charm, to me at least, is the cover photo of what I assume is an Italian mother and her young daughter serving up a big tureen of Minestrone soup. The pair are shown in the rear of the book taking a big pan of Veal Parmesan out of the oven.

The lady is shown again in three other photos, one with a young boy looking on. Each time she's wearing a different apron and a different dress. A little fussy for cooking, but she also looks a little comforting like the Italian mothers of my imagination tend to be. (If you have an Italian mother and she's not comforting, please don't write and deprive me of my illusions.) I believe this lady, or one who looks similar to her, also appeared in a Hunt's magazine advertisement.

The first page tells how Hunt's Tomato Paste is the secret to Italian cooking and one of the authentic ways to achieve the fine flavor and aroma of Italian food. Well, I don't know about that, but I'm sure Hunt's would like us to think so.

The next page says you don't need an Italian grocery store from which to purchase your ingredients, that you can do just fine with a regular market. All you need is olive oil, herbs, Italian cheese and Hunt's Tomato Paste, of course.

They go on to enlighten us with the fact that pasta is what Italians call all macaroni, spaghetti and noodles, with a brief explanation and small illustration of the various types.

The recipes included in the booklet are:

Very Special, Old-Country Spaghetti and Pot Roast
Spaghetti Sauce (with Meat)
Mushroom Sauce (Meatless)
Italian Meat Balls (Polpette)
Veal Scaloppine (with a photo of veal smothered in a frighteningly red sauce)
Lasagne (Italian Noodle Casserole)
Italian Pizza
Mediterranean Fish Rolls
Fish Ripieno (Stuffed Whole Mackerel, bass, or any large fish)
Rollettes (Italian Meat Rolls)
Macaroni & Cheese (Italian Style)
Risotto with Shrimp (A Rice Dish)
Chicken Cacciatora (Hunter Style)
Veal Parmesan
Baked Round Steak (Bistecca al Forno)

They also give three suggested menus:

A Sunday Dinner Menu
A Dinner Party Menu
A Family Style Dinner Party Menu

A short portion of one page tells how to prepare antipasto, another shows an Italian Herb Chart and another an Italian Cheese Chart. The last page gives some hints and tips for using Hunt's Tomato Paste.

The rear cover shows a "Family Portrait" of the Hunt's tomato products. At the the time of publication, these products included plain tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, catsup, solid pack tomatoes and Italian peeled tomatoes. This is back when product selection was not a mind boggling chore in our busy lives--no blue or green catsup, no no-salt tomatoes, no Mexican-Style, no Italian-Style to choose from, just tomatoes, plain and simple.


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