Yes, Swish Steak.
Among my cookbooks, there is a recent acquisition I consider to be the jewel in my crown-- a must-have for anyone who fancies herself (or, of course, himself) Queen of the Kitchen: The Gay Cookbook by Chef Lou Rand Hogan* (Sherbourne Press, 1965).
The Gay Cookbook: "the complete compendium of campy cuisine and menus for men... or what have you" was first brought to my attention by Celia Sacks of Omnivore Books on Food, who had a copy proudly displayed in her store window the last time I visited. She always seems to know what will pique my interest.
A gay cookbook? Pre-Stonewall? I never thought any such thing could exist. I was transfixed. I just had to have a copy for my library. I mentioned the book later that evening to friends over drinks. One month later, those same friends placed a copy in my not-so-little hands. It was probably the most perfect birthday present. Ever.
When I returned home, I opened the book and was immediately struck by how much times have changed since 1965. Not only our food ways, but our slang, too. Especially what I would call gay-speak. The "girlfriend" tone has remained, but the terms have certainly changed. There is a self-mockery that may be horrifying to some readers; others might find the embracing of extreme stereotyping fun and, in a sense, freeing. The last two paragraphs of the book's introduction leave no doubt as to what the reader is in for:
Yes, in that magic hour 'tween day and dark, after effacing the ravages of the day's toil, and before the night's serious cruising, ya gotta take on some food. Man, woman, or child, a girl has got to eat!
So we'll offer here a sort of nonsensical cookbook for the androgynous (don't bother to look it up, Maude. It means "limp-wristed"), and while we can't guarantee the quality of the guests these dishes may be set before, we do not hesitate to assure the reader that all preparations and recipe details are honest and practical.
Here then is the GAY COOKBOOK, which some queen will promptly call FAGGOT'S FARE.
Fierce! At least we have been warned.