Thursday, January 26, 2023

Lost and Found: Barbara Baeta's Historic Recipe Cards

In the 1960s and early 1970s,  Willis E. Bell was a celebrated photographer in Ghana, West Africa. In 1972, he photographed a dozen "cookery cards" for a popular Ghanaian chef and caterer, Barbara Baëta. This was the same woman featured in Laurens van Der Post's  influential  African Cooking in the Time-Life series of cookbooks of the world" featuring in a photo: "Barbara Baëta, one of Ghana's leading culinary experts", "at a Baëta buffet at Jimmy Moxon's Black Pot Restaurant."

They were copyrighted by Moxon Paperbacks in Accra, Ghana, and printed in Great Britain.I have always treasured my set, and occasionally featured them at my BETUMI website.

In early April, 2018, I received an invitation from Aperture in New York to lend them my set of cookery cards to be a part of the cookbook section of their upcoming travelling exhibition "Feast for the Eyes: the Story of Food in Photography" as they had not been able to locate any to purchase. 

I had the cards appraised, and duly sent them to be included in the traveling exhibition, at that point, in Louisiana, Baton Rough; FOAM, Amsterdam, and Berlin, with more sites to be added.

The terms of the loan agreement, were to have them throughout the tour, from the time I sent them, May 3, 2018, until the exhibition closed in March 2021. However, I was never able to contact Aperture due to covid. 2021 came and went. Their offices were closed so I could not telephone them and received no reply to my letters/emails. The organizer of the exhibit, Charlotte Chudy, was no longer at Aperture, and I could not reach her despite several attempts also to call and email her. I have continued periodically trying to reach the New York Aperture office, unsuccessfully.  Finally, as 2022 was ending, I was able to hit every button on the phone and connect with Annette Booth, the current Director of Exhibitions Management, who apologized profusely and speedily located the cards and returned them to me. Whew!!

I am vastly relieved and grateful.


Nadia Adams said...
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