Mission San Juan Capistrano Raises Funds Through a Cookbook, Just Like it Did a Century Ago

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.

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.

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