How To Be A Pregnant Father, UK First Edition, 1977
An instructional guide for first-time fathers, the book - largely written by Peter Mayle - combines simple text with illustrations by Arthur Robins. It contains chapters on: a wife's cravings and what a husband can do about them; is there a sex life during pregnancy?; can your bank balance cope with the arrival of triplets among others?
It is light-hearted in tone. In the middle section of the book, Len Deighton was commissioned to provide ten pages of text and illustrations - following the style originally devised for the Action Cook Book - giving hints and tips to the expectant father who is having to cope with the fact his wife is no longer interested in staying in the kitchen (this was the 1970s!). He provides recipes for the simplest possible meals, including how to cook a baked potato, an omelette, even a sandwich!
Why it's enjoyable
It's a light-hearted read - the cartoons make it an easy read for fathers having to cope with a change in lifestyle - and the advice offered seems pretty sensible.
Deighton's contribution recognises that most men - despite the launch of his cook book in the 'sixties - were still at the time relative strangers in the kitchen and needed basic, simple-to-make food. He assumes no knowledge on the part of the reader, offering advice about how to measure ingredients, how to shop effectively and how you can get away with making omelettes without the need for a special omelette pan. As a father himself, you suspect that Deighton was drawing from his own experiences with this contribution.
'All of these [soups] need a couple of spoonsful of cream to brighten them up. A package of crackers - saltines or Ritz for instance - can make any soup more attractive. A more ambitious garnish - croutons - can be prepared in five minutes while the soup is heating. Take a slice of white bread, remove the crusts and cut the rest of it into pieces about the size of sugar cubes. Fry these golden into a large spoonful of fat. Butter gives the best colour but burns easily.'
The author is the same Peter Mayle who in the 1980s became famous for a series of books - including A Year in Provence - detailing his life as a British emigré in Provence, France, having left his career in advertising.