Look for the Chopped-Off Alien Fetus Pods

I don’t know what this is, but it’s making me laugh until I have to get up and walk around the room to regain my composure.

Lileks Institute: Knudsen’s, the Very Best.

Excuse me, I have to blow my nose again.



  1. says

    It’s too bad Lileks is such a warmongering wingnut in his other life, but yeah, 1950s cookbooks from the midwest are a rich vein of dubious flavor…which might actually be a recipe in one, somewhere.

  2. says

    I am just old enough to remember seeing these very cookbooks in my mom’s and grandmothers’ kitchens. Some of them I remember fondly — remember the Jell-O salad with grapes, mandarin orange segments, walnuts and celery? Some, not so much — those “party loaves” made by slicing a loaf of bread into a layer cake and “frosting” it with a mix of cream cheese and tuna fish.

    There is a bit of a nostalgia boom on those old books, and a treasure trove out there just waiting.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I choose not to remember Lileks is a dick. I enjoy these too much. Like, “I will puke from laughing.”

  4. Trebuchet says

    As a child of the ’50’s, many of those dishes looked familiar. Especially the Jell-O ones.

    As did the Corningware on page 18. We just gave that exact piece (and quite a few others) to a relative yesterday. It’s older than she is. She loved it.

  5. Al Dente says

    I’ve been a fan of the Gallery of Regrettable Food for years, just not a fan of James Lileks.

  6. says

    The Lileks cookbook things have always much amused me as well. Didn’t, honestly, have a clue who the author even was outside his doing these things, mind. Was briefly puzzled why PZ was mentioning midwest cookbooks, specifically…

    I’m not sure they are that regional, either, but then, I also don’t know how universal they are. Those I had seen in person I can personally only report as having spread as far as the southern edges of northern Ontario and northern Quebec. I had always assumed they were a far more ubiquitous thing, like old Life Magazines, old National Geographics, and, like those, perhaps they were spread by wind…

    Much like fallout. And, indeed, now that I think about it, I wonder if, were we to get net users together to report sightings and them map them, if a pattern very like one that might emerge. Elongated ellipsoids, spreading ominously downwind of urban centers and missile silos.

  7. Menyambal says

    The second page, the “cottage cheesecake” with the celery, refers to an artist whose work looked much like that, but which featured women whose skirts had accidentally pulled up a bit. They had all been shopping, and they had all bought celery.

    Lileks covers that collection, and other stuff, as well.

  8. says

    I think of it as much more temporal than regional, although…there is that midwest thing too. My siblings and I (born hipsters and cooler than everyone because our parents had transplanted from the midwest to [gasp] NEW YORK CITY before they met) used to make fun of the midwest tendencies in the cooking of our mother and especially her older sister. Part of our family mythology was that our mother was way sophisticated because she made spaghetti, and she used garlic salt on steak. Mmmhmm. There were some dishes that wouldn’t have been totally alien in that Lileks gallery…like “creamed chipped beef.” And “creamed tuna.” And “scrambled hamburger.”

    But our aunt made stewed tomatoes with sugar, and we just thought that was soooooo midwestern.

  9. Al Dente says

    You can still get those cookbooks. They’re put out by various food companies and the recipes are based around that company’s products. I have one put out jointly by Contadina (tomato products) and Barilla (pasta) which has an excellent linguine with red clam sauce recipe and some recipes I wouldn’t touch unless I was hosting a dinner for people I never wanted to see ever again.

  10. leftwingfox says

    My brother was a chef, my mother is an interior designer, my father an architect, and I’m an artist. Between the Gallery of Regrettable Food, Interior Desecration, The Gobbler (The grooviest motel in Wisconsin!), and the work of Art Frahm, Lilek’s Institute of Official Cheer has a laser-seeking humour missile aimed at every member of my family.

    My mother told me she was suffering from “Colour poisoning” after reading Interior Desecrations.

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