Rare that I'll ever do a story on the Catholic Church without mentioning its horrendous pedo-priest scandal (oops, I did it again!), but the most recent edition of The Bells Are Ringing: A Call to Table, a cookbook published by Mission San Juan Capistrano's Women Guild to raise funds for Orange County's oldest-standing building reminds me of how the more things change, the more they remain the same.
In 1903, Charles Fletcher Lummis published The Landmarks Club Cook Book: A California Collection of the Choicest Recipes from Everywhere in an effort to raise funds to save the mission from crumbling to the ground. Lummis is a legendary figure in the annals of the Southwest, the man who kick-started the Spanish fantasy heritage of the reason--it's his fault that so many streets in South County are named in Spanish, why Mexican food was known as "Spanish" food for decades, and why Mission Revival and red-tiled roofs were the rage during the 1920s--but I digress.
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The Landmarks Club Cook Book is also notable because it was one of the first cookbooks in American publishing to have a section on Mexican recipes. I can go on but you'll have to wait for my book on the history of Mexican food to come out (am turning in my first chapter this week--pray for Mojo...). In the meanwhile, if you're interested in the latest cook book attempt to save the Mission, click here.