Arabic is real and American is fiction.. two cooking teachers who have inspired millions

From the ocean to the Gulf and from east to west of the world, the fame of “Abla Nazira” and “Betty Crocker” transcends borders, and they have had a great impact on the lives of women around the world.

In the Arab world, “Abla Nazeera” provided Arab women with the first guide to cooking, and her fame exceeded Arab horizons, while “Betty Crocker” is no less famous and influential, but in the United States of America.

Despite the similarity between the two characters and their influence through cookbooks and radio programs, there is one fundamental difference between them, which is that one of them is a real woman, and the other is a fictional character that is the brainchild of an advertising campaign for a producing company.

A “real” counterpart

Nazira Nicola is an Egyptian chef and writer who gained fame through her book “The Basics of Cooking”, which is called in Arab countries. “Abla Nazeera Book”.

She was born in 1902, and studied at the Faculty of Economics and Housekeeping in Egypt, and in 1926 when Egypt decided to send the most talented students in all disciplines to complete their higher studies abroad, Nazira was one of 14 girls from the Faculty of Housekeeping, who were chosen to study at the University of Gloucester In England for 3 years in Culinary Arts and Embroidery.

After completing her studies, Nazeera worked as a teacher for “Women’s Culture and Housekeeping” at Al-Sanieh School for Girls in Egypt, and she urged her students to love the kitchen and decorate the table with the simplest things, as she believed that cooking was an art like all other arts.

At the beginning of the forties, the Egyptian government announced a competition between teachers to write a cookbook, and of course, “Abla Nazira” decided to join this competition with “Bahia Othman”, who graduated from Bridge House College in England, and wrote the book “The Origins of Cooking”, which took first place. in the competition. It was published for the first time in 1941, and his fame extended beyond the borders of Egypt and was known as the book “Abla Nazira”.

Between 1941 and 1952, she wrote and co-authored no fewer than 6 textbooks that served as a guide for schoolgirls and their mothers.

Abla Nazira wrote and co-authored textbooks that served as a guide for students (communication sites)

Daughter and mother teacher

The success of the book “Abla Nazira” did not depend on magical or new cooking recipes, but success required her, perhaps, because of her philosophy based on the fact that cooking is the most important local art and a basic skill for modern women, and a basis for the happiness of the family and the nation, according to “Rawi Magazine” (Rawi-magazine).

Her success and prestige is also due to her ability to adapt. With the social and political transformations that took place in Egypt and the exit of women to work in the 1970s, she wrote a number of books directed explicitly at “working women” that include simpler and faster recipes.

Perhaps the most important thing in consolidating the position of “Abla Nazeera” in Egyptian culture, perhaps, was her appearance in a fixed segment on Egyptian radio starting in the forties, and her letters written to readers in “Eve” magazine.

Betty Crocker “Fictional”

In 2021, Americans celebrate the 100th birthday of “Betty Crocker”, the icon of American cooking, but in fact she was not even born, and she was not a real person one day.

In the late 19th century, Washburn-Crosby, a flour milling company, began an advertising campaign for one of its “Gold Medal Flour” products, and through the Saturday Evening Post, the company ran an ad with mysteries about The product is intended for an audience with promises of rewards for correct answers.

The response has been overwhelming, with Washburn Crosby’s offices flooded with letters of readers to solve the mystery with questions and concerns about baking and the use of flour, something the company hadn’t expected.

With the massive influx of questions, the advertising department had to consult the women working in the company’s service and cleaning staff to answer customers’ baking and cooking questions, and the department manager didn’t feel comfortable signing his name on those letters, believing that women preferred to listen to other women who knew the secrets of the kitchen.

According to the BBC, the American Public Broadcasting Service.PBSFrom this background came the idea of ​​a chief culinary correspondence invention, a fictitious woman they named “Betty Crocker”.

The success of “Abla Nazira” did not depend on new or magical recipes, but on the basics of cooking (Getty Images)

cultural icon

“Betty” was chosen as a household name at the time, and the last name “Crocker” was in honor of the company’s former CEO, William J. Crocker.

The director of the advertising department asked the employees of the company to create a signature bearing the name “Betty Crocker” to append messages with it.

In 1924, Betty went from signing letters to having a real voice when Washburn Crosby began broadcasting a cooking radio show, and housekeeping expert Marjorie Child Husted was the first radio voice for Betty.

Audiences believed Betty to be a real character, and in 1951 Washburn Crosby put a face on the name and voice when she hired actress Adelaide Hawley to play the role of Betty on television, and Hawley was the first of many women to play the later “Betty Crocker”.

Betty Crocker became so famous that there was a production line bearing her name on packaged cake mixes and baked goods produced by the Washburn Crosby Company, which later became “General Mills”.

The audience was astonished when they learned that Betty, who influenced their culture and cooking methods, was a fictional character and had no real existence, yet the women, who wrote to her and kept their responses, insisted that she was an important cultural symbol.

To personalize and intimate my home, according to Smithsonianmagazine (SmithsonianmagIn 1996, a group of artists painted a portrait of Betty to celebrate her 75th birthday, inspired by a photomontage that is itself based on images of 75 real women that reflect the spirit of “Betty Crocker” and the demographic changes of America, to remain real despite it being fictional.

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