La Cocina en el Bolsillo: A Turn-of-the-Century Pocket Cookbook Series
La Cocina en el Bolisillo [series]. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, [1890s] and 1913. [TX716 .M4 C675].
UTSA Libraries Special Collections recently acquired several volumes of La Cocina en el Bolsillo. At just 15 centimeters tall and 15-16 pages long, these turn-of-the-century recipe chapbooks published by Antonio Vanegas Arroyo reallydo fit into a bolsillo or pocket, perfect for ready reference in the kitchen. Each volume includes twenty to thirty recipes for (mostly) traditional dishes such as Lengua de Vaca (beef tongue), Huachinango Relleno (stuffed red snapper); Chilles Rellenos (stuffed chiles); mole verde; and Pulque Rompopo (a traditional alcoholic drink made from agave). We’ll feature several of these recipes in the coming weeks, but today’s post takes a look at the artwork and distribution of the series:
La Cocina en el Bolsillo was published in at least three editions: one issued at some point in the 1890s or possibly 1901, a second appearing between 1907-1909, and a re-print of the latter in 1913. Identifying the edition with certainty is difficult, as only the 1913 volumes include a date on the title page. There may have also been a 1903 edition, but it has not been possible to confirm this.
Cover illustrations for the first edition alternates between artwork by Manuel Manilla and José Guadalupe Posada (perhaps the most famous Mexican printmaker of his time). The composition of the image is the same on all volumes – a woman (possibly of indigenous ancestry) in traditional clothing with plaited hair – but stylistic differences are evident. Based on a comparison with plates from Posada: Illustrator of Chapboks (2005) by Mercurio López Casillas, it appears that UTSA’s No. 2, 5, and 6 belong to this edition and were illustrated by Manilla.
The 1907-09/1913 edition, on the other hand, was entirely illustrated by Posada and has a very different style. Each volume depicts a woman in fashionable dress and hairstyle engaged in some culinary activity, such as removing fish from a basket or stirring a pan on top of a stove. Posada’s signature is visible in the lower left corner of No. 1 and No. 4 below. Interestingly, the cook’s leg o’ mutton sleeves are more characteristic of 1890s fashion than the 1900s, and were thus already old-fashioned when published.
Antonio Vanegas Arroyo was an important publisher of inexpensive chapbooks on popular subjects, from cookery to prayers, to magic tricks, and his distribution reached at least as far north as San Antonio. A December 23, 1897 issue of El Regidor contains an advertisement from Pablo Cruz, listing a wide range of titles for sale. Most of Cruz’ books sold for between $1.00-4.00, but Vanegas Arroyo’s cookbooks could be purchased for just ten cents each, including not only La Cocina en el Bolsillo, but also El Moderno Pastelero and El Dulcero Mexicano.
Mercurio López Casillas. José Guadalupe Posada: Illustrator of Chapbooks, with Charming Covers, Choice Illustrations and Vignettes. Editorial RM, 2005. Pp. 184-187, 221-222.