In 1958, Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the beloved Madeline children’s books, illustrated this ad for Tabasco sauce–in a Hong Kong setting.
This colonial dinner, complete with paper lanterns, a harbor view, and Chinese servants, looks like something from The World of Suzy Wong.
Headlined as a “well seasoned traveler’s guide”, this ad recounts the secret behind a couple of tasty Chinese dishes (recipes included!):
After a dinner I’ll always remember, my host introduced his chef, a courtly old man who has served his apprenticeship in the kitchens of the last empress. When I complimented him on his Foo Yoong Shea Daahn–a sorcerer’s masterpiece–he replied with simple dignity, “Gracious sir, I cannot claim this honor. Your own native Tabasco gave my little omelet its magic touch.”
Following this exotic omelet is a recipe for sweet and sour sauce:
The feast that evening was preceded by cocktails and Sun La Chu Chien, subtle hors d’oeuvres flavored with the mysterious East…and Tabasco, too.
That’s funny. Cantonese food isn’t spicy and I can’t picture the Empress Dowager or Pu Yi’s wife requesting Tabasco, but what do I know.
As for the sweet and sour sauce recipe in this ad, that’s as American as apple pie.