By Patrick Williams
“Food is important. Especially at meals.”
These are Arthur “Bugs” Baer’s opening words to George Rector’s 1937 book Dine at Home with Rector: A Book on What Men Like, How They Like It, and How to Cook It. This thick volume documents the adventures and advice of the restaurant titan and gastronimical pioneer whose restaurant was immortalized in “If a Table at Rector’s Could Talk.”
After the restaurant that fed his fame closed in 1922 (thanks to prohibition, according to then-owner Lucius Boomer), George Rector was something of an early twentieth century Mark Bittman or Bobby Flay. He hosted a CBS radio show entitled “Dine with George Rector,” and wrote a column for the Saturday Evening Post, and published at least 7 cookbooks.
In Dine at Home with Rector, George holds forth his opinions on proper pancake preparation, outlines what meals men should prepare when their wives are away, engages in some amateur anthropology of global tea drinkers, and argues whether or not one should dare cut into hot bread (one should not).
Rector was not known to not shy away from controversial statements, and one quote from Dine at Home with Rector in particular seems a little out-of-sync with our times: “French and Italian coffee seems to be a natural enemy of mankind.” One assumes Rector would be infuriated that American coffee drinkers regularly employ Italian words in their daily coffee orders. Apart from that, much of what Rector introduced to American tables is still quite palatable today. See for yourself by checking out the recipe index in Dine at Home with Rector to get more advice on eating everything.