The New England Butt’ry Shelf Cookbook, written in 1969 by Mary Mason Campbell, is one of the most perfect works of nostalgia ever published. Ms. Campbell runs through the year’s calendar, remembering her New Hampshire family’s idyllic holiday celebrations: Fourth of July picnics on the river, Valentine’s Day children’s parties, Hallowe’en revels, all accompanied by lots of homemade food and liberally supplemented with stores from the eponymous buttery, or pantry.
As a child, I was understandably obsessed with this book. From the vantage point of my own chaotic household, the order and tradition of the year Campbell described seemed indescribably appealing. For some reason, one vignette made a particular impression on me. The author describes how, every Thanksgiving, her grandfather (who had a good baritone) would summon all the guests to table by booming out “The Doxology.” Read More