Books
4:19 pm
Mon February 21, 2011

Fascinating Foods from the Deep South: Favorite Recipes from the University Club of Tuscaloosa

As Camille Elebash explains in her Foreword, Alline Van Duzor was brought to Tuscaloosa from Atlanta in 1946 to manage the then-new University Club. Van Duzor did just that, for 15 years. In 1962, right after her retirement, she published the original edition of this volume, containing the recipes for the dishes produced in her kitchen.

Audio ?2011 Alabama Public Radio

As Camille Elebash explains in her Foreword, Alline Van Duzor was brought to Tuscaloosa from Atlanta in 1946 to manage the then-new University Club. Van Duzor did just that, for 15 years. In 1962, right after her retirement, she published the original edition of this volume, containing the recipes for the dishes produced in her kitchen.

As Ms. Elebash tells it, Van Duzor was a character. A stickler for punctuality, Van Duzor would tolerate tardiness from no one.

"One evening Mildred Warner, president of the Gulf States Paper Corporation and donor of the landmark building where the club was located to the University, reserved a table for a dinner party. When she and her guests arrived late, Van Duzor told her the club was closed. With her usual good humor, Warner took her guests to a restaurant [Phil's] across the street."

Van Duzor's other passion was landscape gardening and she always pushed hard for the beautification of the University Club grounds and University Boulevard downtown.

(Alline Van Duzor sounds like a really interesting character and I would be delighted to hear more about her.)

The only way a cookbook can be properly reviewed, of course, is to cook each dish and evaluate the recipes, and I did not do that, but the contents of a cookbook can be described.

Section one of this volume, beverages, contains seven recipes. Amazingly, there is no alcohol in any of the recipes, Hot Fruit Toddy, Mrs. Rainer's Punch, or even Kappa Punch. The fifties and sixties at the University Club must have been more abstemious times than I had been led to believe. Also, the reader should notice that Mrs. Rainer's is for 100, Hot Fruit Toddy is for 100, Hot Russian Tea for 60, and there is a kind of all-purpose punch called Punch for 100.

Reading through the book one discovers the only alcohol is in the section on Desserts. Syllabub For a Party (serves 36) calls for one pint sherry. Tipsy pudding, serving 6, calls for a generous sprinkling of sherry.

There is no recipe here for Almond Ball but, really, why would there be?

There is found, however, in the section on breads, the recipe for spoon bread, another of the University Club's signature dishes. It calls for meal, not flour.

The recipe for corn bread, inexplicably, omits sugar.

There are also sections, as one might expect, on eggs, soups, cheese dishes, cookies, cakes and cake frostings, pies and tarts, seafoods, meat cookery, sauces, poultry dishes, vegetables, especially varieties of potatoes, salads, especially molded salads, and various items in aspic and salad dressing. Many are for what seem like large quantities today, 10 or 12.

The book also includes a new Index and a listing of all the University Club Presidents from 1947 to 2009.

Altogether, there is a quaintness about the recipes in this volume that made it almost entertaining reading, and there were several recipes that really called out to be tried, especially Chicken Livers with Pineapple and Almonds.

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