Children in Chef’s Clothing 1915-2010

It sometimes feels as if this generation (at least here in the United States) invented the idea of food, in many ways. Or perhaps ‘re-invented’ might be the better word. There is a sense of unearthing the primal purity of all that is good and fine, of discarding the cheap and common-place, of a moral high ground which exists only in the idea of food-as-excellence, for all of us who are in the know.

I don’t believe it.

But I know many people who do.

Children learning to cook is one area it appears is being ‘re-discovered’. And we not only try to teach our children how to cook (some of us), some of us like to buy them little chef costumes as encouragement. The hats, the jackets, the pristine white! All combine to make a uniform which supposedly demands respect for knowing a trade.

It’s interesting for me, to look at this postcard from 1915 and to sense the underlying feeling of these children, who are obviously learning how to cook, who have also been dressed up in chef whites. There is a different sense held in the picture from 1915 than is held in photos of children costumed similarly, today. Today, the children are proud! Of their chef whites, of the fact that they are learning to cook ‘as a little chef’, of the fact that this is all so much fun!

In 1915, the attitude, described by the postcard, is: “I’m making good.” “I’m working,” is the attitude. It may not be fun, but I will do it and ‘make good’ of myself. The little faces are serious, not coy and delighted.

I’ve tried to translate the back of the card, but can not decipher it well enough to get a translation. Google Translate says it is Albanian. I don’t think so – first because it doesn’t look exactly like Albanian to me, and second because it wouldn’t translate – though I may have mis-spelled the words due to not being able to discern all the letters correctly. If anyone out there reads this and can translate, please do let us know what it says!

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9 thoughts on “Children in Chef’s Clothing 1915-2010

  1. This is a very sweet card and I agree with the expressions-very serious as if they need to get this job done. I do hope you find someone who can read this and translate it. I bet it speaks volumes to the era.

  2. I believe that the language is Czech. “Mockrát dekuji” is formal for “Thank you very much” in Czech. (The postcard has the phrase “Mockrat ti de kuji”). A Bing search on +”mockrat ti dekuji” yielded only 29 hits, but one of them is a recipe!: http://www.labuznik.com/recipe.php?ID=29561 It’s a good thing that the recipe is well illustrated with photographs, because I do not read Czech.

    Other words on the postcard have meaningful translations from Czech to English using this translation website: http://www.translation-guide.com/free_online_translators.php?from=Czech&to=English

    prijmi translates to “affiliated”
    ordicni –> surgery, ordination, consulting room
    pozdrav –> salutation, respect, regard, hail, greeting
    dcerek –> daughter
    dost –> pretty well
    opla –> salaried
    dravem –> cormorant, bird of prey

    Garrison Keillor populates his Minnesota yarns with folks of Norwegian stock. Apparently, (from the postmark) there was at least one Czech family up north, too!

    — Leo

  3. Hi Karen, this is a very interesting post. It takes me back to a heartwarming memory of childhood. When I was 11, my mother often read Her World which was Malaysia’s top women’s magazine at the time. One month, they enclosed a child’s kid-recipe book, courtesy of Maggie where they had very simple colourful recipes for a child wanting to mess about in the kitchen. There was a delicious drink made of rose milk and I still remember the photos of these tall glasses with dripping ice and decorative straws. The drink was called Jiffy Sweety…just to catch the eye of a child. I still remember that pretty little book very well and how my mother let me make it mine alone and carry it everywhere. xx

  4. Oh my goodness, I went to the recipe link and used google page translator and it is hilarious. This are basically a salt stick made from a simple flour dough. But some of the translations are so funny.

  5. Wow! Leo, you’ve unearthed some great stuff, once again. Michelle, those translations are utterly hilarious, aren’t they?!! And Susan, I can see you . . . with that drink. 🙂 Kristee, you’re ahead of me – I couldn’t put a finger on what language it might be.

    I knew of the Scandanavians who emigrated to that area – and have also known of Serbs. The Czechs now join the club!

    Thanks for your comments, all. A bit of a mystery, and now a bit of unraveling of it . . .! 🙂

  6. Hi,
    Do you know how many cards are in the little chef series? I have three different than the one you have pictured. The titles are:
    I’ll Pair Off With You – You Sweep My Trouble Away – This Is A Soft Job.
    All have the same little chefs in the kitchen doing something different. I hope to complete the series and frame them for my youngest son who is a chef. Email Herm at twod35@aol.com
    Thanks.

    1. Herman, I have two of these cards . . . I don’t know how many are in the series, though. The other one (apart from the one pictured above)is captioned ‘Let’s Make the Best of Things’.

      I’m not interested in selling mine, but if you google the captions with ‘vintage postcard’ you might find them . . . good luck! Sounds like a nice gift for your son. 🙂

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