Dear, dear Aunt Jenny. For years she put a happy face - indeed, a very happy face - on the proletarian cooking glop known as Spry. If ever there was a woman born to be shown in black and white, it was Aunt Jenny; with her sensible gray outfits, gray hair, grayscale skin and gray storebought dentures, her grayness only set off the pure dazzling whiteness of Spry.

And what was Spry? Vegetable shortening.Triple-whipped for creaminess, too - let those double-whipped bastards over at Crisco beat that. (They did, eventually.) But it wasn’t just a cooking ingredient - Spry was the means by which men were placated, tamed, and domesticated. It was the balm that troubled young wives stirred into their neophyte biscuits. It was the substance that allowed one man to lord his wife’s french fries over another. It was ambrosia whipped with ichor; it was a can of clouds brought down to the pantry of mortals. If Spry was fire, Aunt Jenny was our Prometheus.

It also made you sterile in large doses. That’s just a guess. But Jenny doesn’t have any children. And yet she bakes . . . and bakes . . . and bakes, cake after cake, platoons of cookies. Every night she probably threw three pies, two cakes and 93 cookies out the back door for the birds and the bums. And then she went to bed planning the next day’s cooking. Old Can-A-Day Jenny, they probably called her at the market.

Of course not - how could we? Aunt Jenny had a husband, an agreeable and horsey-faced fellow named Calvin. You’ll meet more of him later. But you’ll meet much more of Jenny. More, perhaps, than you needed to see.