I bought the Cutco Knives cookbook for the possibility of garish fifties food photos. After buying it, and actually reading the recipes, I realise, oh, it’s a MEAT cookbook, it won’t be overly useful as a cookbook to me. But oh, it’s so twisted the entertainment value is worth the $1.

Yes, yes, there’s the variety meats photo spread (bleurrgh) and the MEAT IS GOOD propaganda. But! The illustrations! Frank Marcello is an insane genius.

The piece de resistance is his full page illustration of an outdoor barbecue. Laws of physics are flagrantly violated. The sun not only has a face, it’s a slightly demented one. There is the weirdest interpretation of a cat ever to grace a mainstream publication (Louis Wain’s got nothin’ on old Frank.) There’s a man with very hairy forearms. There’s a woman holding the world’s largest baby. There’s a dog that is apparently wearing galoshes. And people think drugs were a sixties thing! Frank, would you mind sharing with the rest of the class?

Elsewhere is the old standby of anthropomorphized food. (And god knows how weird THAT is) Pork gets the most of this treatment, and these pigs are crazy. ‘Cooked smoked ham’ has a pig reclining on a circular couch while puffing a on cigarette in a holder. Barbecued ham steaks show a Drunk Pig sitting next to a bottle of cider. I know people were total alcoholics in the fifties but pigs, too?