The year 1918 saw the the publication of the Twentieth Century Club War Time Cook Book, an elegant, informative tome filled with useful and tasteful economical recipes. The federal food administrator of Pennsylvania praised the book, deeming it instrumental in winning “the war that is being waged to guarantee the safety of American home” and in ensuring the “permanency of American institutions.” Though he cautions that “much more will be demanded before we can hope for victory, as much perhaps as has been demanded in England and France,” he assures readers that “there is no more important war activity in which women may engage than the careful conservation of our food supply which is altogether inadequate to the needs our own men and our allies at the fighting front.”
Between 1883 and 1885 Vincent van Gogh lived in Nuenen, a small village in the Brabant district of the Netherlands where his father was the church pastor. There Van Gogh immersed himself in his subject — the lives of local peasants — with a gusto uncommon even among passionate artists.
In her 1918 cookbook One Hundred-Portion War Time Recipes, Bertha E. Nettleton, former manager of Columbia University’s Horace Mann Lunch Room, shares tips for feeding a crowd. “In the effort to plan menus which comply with suggestions and requirements of the Food Administration and which at the same time meet financial ends, the resources of the Institutional Manager or Lunch Room Director are taxed to the utmost,” she writes.
A nation at war taxes these resources all the more. Nettleton thus published her cookbook with “[t]he aim and purpose [of furnishing] recipes and suggestions helpful to those who are trying to cope with the present situation by increasing the variety of dishes which are palatable, nutritious, economical and practicable.” American doughboys could ship for Europe well-nourished, while noncombatants back home could do their part for the cause.