Don’t think I’ll get round to posting tomorrow. These swinging 50’s illustrations are by Baye Mizumura.
Irma Walker Ross was Californian. She loved the Far East, and travelled in the Hawaiian Islands, China and Thailand. From 1949, she was a personnel officer with the US Army, working in Okinawa, Japan. This book grew from her many friends, and their respective cuisines. Unlike many anglos traveling back then, Irma befriended everybody – White Russians, Filipinos, Siamese, Hawaiians, Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese. Her book includes recipes from all these places, and more. I haven’t tried making any of these yet, and she has changed them to suit a Western palate.
“I can’t remember when I couldn’t cook, nor when the Orient failed to fascinate me. I spent more time in San Francisco’s Chinatown as a kid – wandering up the winding alleys looking bug-eyed at the ducks hanging by their necks in the windows of restaurants and watching the eels slithering around in a bucket – than I ever did at home.”
Interesting that Irma’s grandfather Honest Asa was master of a ship, and sailed from his home in Boston to many exotic lands. She saw his charts and grew up hearing of his exploits. These tales gave her the desire to travel, and she visited some of his old haunts – the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Japan.
Forties film noir meets San Francisco: if you’ve watched The Lady From Shanghai with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, you will have seen how parts of Chinatown looked. Humphrey Bogart’s The Maltese Falcon shows how San Fran was back then. I remember slow pan shots over a grey-looking city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, and a few skyscrapers…