Sometimes “serves 4” isn’t enough. Take the recipes in these two cookbooks, for instance.
The Cook’s Recipe Manual for Navy, Army, Air Force, Munitions Plants, Camps, and Schools specializes in recipes for large groups – think cafeteria large. It was published during the war, when camps were cropping up as men and women joined the military, and the publishers assumed that some of these camp canteens would not necessarily be run by those experienced with meal preparation on such a vast scale. The book includes all sorts of helpful tips on making the most of every ingredient and how to vary the menu so soldiers or workers wouldn’t be eating canned peaches and oatmeal every single morning. Here, the book informs how many pounds of meat you can pull from each side of beef:
You can understand how a commercial kitchen might need to serve 100 people, but imagine the kind of party where you’d need to serve 2,000, and imagine cooking it all in huge kettles outdoors. Here’s how The Southern Cookbook: 322 Old Dixie Recipes suggests you make the traditional Kentucky stew “burgoo”:
Who’s the lucky guy who gets to peel those two tons of potatoes?!
We’re always tickled to see these recipes for unimaginable quantities of food. Why not publish a recipe that serves fewer, and assume your readers will scale up if they need 1,200 gallons? We can only guess that no self-respecting host would bother with a burgoo unless he was hosting the whole town. Bon Appetit!