Comidas Mexicanas (Reprint)
The Pasadena Settlement House
The Pasadena Settlement House was founded in 1911 in the “Sonora Town” area of Pasadena - first at 687 S. Broadway and then, by 1919, at 864 S. Raymond Ave. (a site now part of the Pasadena campus of ArtCenter College of Design)
The Autry Museum, whose archives contain an original of this 1935 cookbook, notes;
“Pasadena Settlement House was one of the most significant institutions serving the Mexican-American population, until the late 1940s. It also provided medical care and sewing classes for women.”
From its inception, the Settlement’s medical services focused particularly on maternity and childbirth - 18 babies were born in the Settlement’s first year, including a set of twins. The maternity wing evolved into Pasadena’s Municipal Hospital and eventually Huntington Memorial Hospital.
The Pasadena Settlement House was founded by Los Angeles’ Associated Charities (somewhat like a Community Chest), and was one of many, similar “settlement houses” throughout the Los Angeles area. These Houses provided necessary social services for immigrants, but also functioned as a mechanism for segregation and targeted “Americanization”.
A 1910 brochure for the Los Angeles Settlement House, put out by The Rotary Club, explains baldly;
“The alien who comes to Los Angeles in search of a new home and new ideals is given, through the Settlement House, every opportunity, incentive, and co-operation to mutually benefit himself and America by gaining a proper understanding of American principals.”
The Settlement charities also hinted at the complicated relationship between the Los Angeles’ muli-generational, “Spanish-Mexican” residents and the County’s new wave of Mexican immigrants during the first half of the 20th century. To read more about the Catholic Women’s Club and the Los Angeles’ Brownson House settlement, see the entry in this archive for the cookbook “Gathered Crumbs”.
Comidas Mexicanas lists each recipe in Spanish and English (on facing pages). The Pasadena Settlement House published at least one other cookbook, under the same name, in 1945.
This edition is a reprint - one of three books I have reprinted specially for the Community Cookbook Archive, based on scans of the originals. These reprints are books I felt were particularly important additions to the collection and its ever-growing narrative of Los Angeles. The other two Community Cookbook Archive reprints are The Unrivalled Cook Book and The Federation Cook Book.
Black & white photo of the Pasadena Settlement House by Anton Wagner 1932/1933, from the California Historical Society, via the LAPL