A couple of months ago, I found this cute little cookbook at a local church bazaar. It was printed in 1956 and written by Benedictine Nuns. I was initially drawn to it because of the neat illustrations, but the foreward was fascinating as well.
Sister M. Francetta writes in March of 1956 that she and Sister Regia arrived in China in 1930 as missionaries at the Catholic University in Peking. They learned Chinese cooking from Ta Shih Fu, their cook, and came to love the "tastiness and infinite variety of Chinese cuisine".
They were living in Kaifeng, Honan Province when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and within two hours of the atttack the Japanese army (who were already in Kaifeng) rounded them up and placed them in a civilian concentration camp for the duration of the war. After the war they remained in Kaifeng for a while until the Communists arrived and forced them from Kaifeng to Shanghai and later to Formosa. In 1950, the American Consul thought Formosa might be too dangerous so they were sent to Tokyo. They arrived in Tokyo with literally nothing and decided to eke out an existence by starting a cooking school using the lessons they learned from Ta Shih Fu. Their school started with six students a week and quickly grew to 150 a week by 1956.
It's such a sweet little book. I wonder what ever happened to Sister Francetta and Sister Regia and their cooking school, or Ta Shih Fu for that matter?
And speaking of cute little things, Amanda's hosting a teeny tiny swap. Go check it out, sign up ends this Friday.