Cookbooks as time capsules and why we collect them. Current title holder for Guinness World Records for largest collection of cookbooks (2,970 as of July 14, 2013) Current (unofficial) total (May, 2018) is 6,372
Music – “What’s Cooking” from What’s Cooking by The Wolfe Gang. Released: 2010
CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
“The Vintage Cookbookery” website is up and a work in progress! Please visit it at http://www.vintagecookbookery.com. I will be posting a series of articles about cookbooks as time capsules, why we collect them, and how they reflect cultures, trends, technology and food history. Please join in and add your comments! On October 23rd, 2015, I surpassed the 5,000 mark. What’s left? Just keep collecting! (As of February, 2018, the collection has grown to 6,291)
From Cindy Renfrow’s “Take a Thousand Eggs”, to Gil Partington’s “The Punk Vegan Cookbook”, cookbooks run the gamut and are packed with social history. Forget ‘Social Studies”….just read cookbooks if you really want some history!
Music – “Get Baking / Bakewell Counting / Early Bake / Countryside Air / Final Destination (Get Baking Medley)” from Music Featured in the T.V. Program: The Great American Baking Competition by The London Film Score Orchestra. Released: 2014.
In our fully equipped modern 21st Century kitchens, and with people on frenzied schedules, there is a tendency to eschew the old tried-and-true cooking and baking “from scratch”. So many quick-prep, little-prep, fast and speedy recipes and already prepared “convenience” foods are out there, many people just can’t grasp the concept of starting with an assortment of ingredients, combining them in certain ways and sequences, and lo and behold, producing a loaf of fresh bread, or a cake or similar delight. In addition to following a “receipt” or recipe, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries in the UK, if you didn’t know a hogshead from a pottle, you were in deep trouble. Nowhere are accurate measurements so important as they are in baking.
Many of these older recipes call for “one large coffee-cup of sugar” and “one very large teaspoon of cinnamon” But what, exactly is a “large coffee cup” and a “very large teaspoon“?
Or “butter the size of an egg” as opposed to “butter the size of a hickory nut“. If you’d never seen a hickory nut, you might add way too much. “Roll the paste the thickness of an Oliver biscuit” is pretty clear, unless you’ve never laid eyes on an Oliver biscuit.
If you had to add “…a suspicion of cinnamon“, just how much is that? According to Wikipedia, it is “a trace or slight indication“. If your recipe calls for two scruples, a scruple is the equivalent of 20 grains, or approximately 1/2 teaspoon.
Or, what about the direction to “add analine the size of two grains of wheat“. First of all, what is “analine“? I could only find one vague reference to it, pertaining to a compound used in making perfumes, but “aniline” (if that is what was meant) is used in rubber processing, herbicides, and dyes and pigments. According to Wikipedia, the main use of aniline was a precursor to indigo, the blue in blue jeans! Why it would show up in a 19th century baking recipe is curious (and perhaps not very healthy!)
Even more curious is a recipe, which directs the baker to “Boil one and one-half cups sugar with water enough to cover, until it hairs“.
..perhaps measuring the sugar….(Photo Credit: http://www. healthyfoodteam.com)
For those in the 18th century trying to lose a few pounds, there are recipes for “diet bread” containing “…one pound sugar, nine eggs, beat for an hour (!), add to fourteen ounces flour, spoonful rose-water, one do. Cinnamon or coriander, bake quick“. Just the kind of food to help shed a few pounds!
Many 18th and 19th century recipes indicate that an ingredient should equal the number of eggs. For example, in a recipe for Providence Sponge Cake, the directions indicate “…the weight of ten eggs in sugar, of six in flour and a little salt.” Some recipes specify rather disproportionate amounts of ingredients, such as “…five pounds of sifted loaf sugar to five whites of eggs“. This recipe is even more tiring for the baker than one mentioned previously….the mixture was to be “….beaten two hours in a cool place“!
As to measurements, many of them are older and seldom referred to in most cookbooks today. Would you know what it meant to “…cut up three-quarters of a pound of butter into a jill and a half or three wine glasses of rich, unskimmed milk“?
Something that appears in many baking recipes in older cookbooks is “carbonate of ammonia“. In some recipes, the baker is instructed to grind it down and rub it with the sugar in the recipe.
According to Wikipedia, carbonate of ammonia is it is used as a leavening agent and also as smelling salt. Whew….powerful stuff! Also, directions to “…dissolve the pearl-ash in vinegar” feature in many older baking recipes. Pearlash (pearl ash) or salts of tartar was a common leavening agent at the time.
Other recipes allow a certain “whatever” attitude in baking. For example, in one 19th century recipe for a sponge cake, the baker is instructed to “…take 4, 6, 8 or 10 eggs, weight of eggs in powdered sugar half that weight in flour…beat the yolks ten minutes, mix them well with sugar and one teaspoonful of essence of lemon. Beat whites separate and stir in last.” As long as you have the correction proportion of powdered sugar and flour for the number of eggs you are using, I would suppose all is well, but the recipe requires rereading a few times to clarify this.
A recipe for “Independence Cake” appears to be most unwieldy for the home baker: “Twenty pounds of flour, fifteen pounds of sugar, ten pounds of butter, four dozen of eggs, one quart of wine, one quart of brandy, one ounce of nutmegs, three ounces of cinnamon, cloves and mace, two pounds of citron, five pounds each of currants and raisins, and one quart of yeast. Frost it and dress it with (?) leaf.”
Another feature of many of these older recipes is the lack of specifics as to the sequence of mixing and the approximate baking and cooling times. In addition, some recipes have the baker adding, subtracting, and substituting to the degree that is bound to confuse the mathematically challenged baker (like myself). For a 19th century “Rice Sponge Cake“, “…put twelve eggs into a scale, and balance them in the other scale with their weight in broken loaf-sugar. Take out four of the eggs, remove the sugar, and balance the remaining eight eggs with an equal quantity of rice-flour…” No telling how this cake would turn out if you lost track of the ingredients.
One of my favourite recipes is from a 19th century cookbook, pertaining to cakes that are a tad past their prime: “If you have loaf cake slightly injured by time, or by being kept in the cellar, cut off all appearance of mould from the outside, wipe it with a clean cloth, and wet it well with strong brandy and water sweetened with sugar ; then put it in your oven, and let the heat strike through it, for fifteen or twenty minutes. Unless very bad, this will restore the sweetness.”
A recipe for “young people and delicate stomachs” includes “...six ounces of rice, six ounces of flour, the yolks and whites of nine eggs, half a pound of lump sugar, and half an ounce of caraway seeds“. Of course, the ingredients must be beaten for one hour, which, apparently, “…makes a very light cake”.
Many of these older recipes only specify “makes a large cake“. The number of servings are rarely indicated, but the following recipe would have been sufficient to feed the corpulent King Henry VIII “...nine pounds of flour, nine of sugar, seven and a half of butter, ten of raisins, eight of currants, three of citron, forty-two eggs, two ounces of mace, 9 nutmegs, cloves as you please, one and half pints of brandy, one and a half pints of wine“.
“I think this bowl will be big enough for 9 pounds of flour, ten pounds of raisins, 42 eggs, etc.” (Photo Credit: http://www.the berkeleykitchens.com)
A 1864recipe for “Mrs. Briggs Election Cake” indicates that the baker is to “...lay a sponge overnight with milk, next morning add to the sponge a pint of flour, one coffee cup of sugar, one of butter, one nutmeg, teaspoon of soda and fruit if you choose”
“Well, the recipe said to lay a sponge overnight, but something doesn’t look quite right…” (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)
Other common measurements in 18th and 19th century cookbooks, especially in the UK included the gill (also known as “Jill“), the pottle(2 quarts), and your coombs (4 bushels) and wey (40 bushels).
This is not a “jill” as in cooking terms. (Photo Credit: www. gettyimages.com)
Music – “Whatever Happened to You” from Don Elliot Sings by Don Elliot. Released: 2015
I don’t know about your attention to detail, but frequently, my spouse will read something in the paper that “so and so“, of some fame, has just expired. Typically, I will respond with “I thought he/she was already dead”. Well, after an American newspaper mistakenly published his obituary, Mark Twain quipped “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated“.
I had not, until fairly recently, when I was researching something for another post and images and stories of her popped up across the world-wide web. Thus, I began thinking about all of the other Fanny Cradock types, who were famous (some, infamous) in the cooking realm in their heyday and pondered if any of them were still among the living. Thus, this post.
According to Wikipedia, Fanny Cradock(born Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey) was born in Essex, England in 1909.
She was variously an English restaurant critic, a TV celebrity chef (long before the notoriety of such chefs), and a writer. She frequently appeared on television and conducted cooking demonstrations. In 1955, she recorded a pilot for what became a very successful BBC series on cookery. She, with her husband “Johnnie Cradock”, wrote a column in the Daily Telegraph from 1950 to 1955, under the pen name “Bon Viveur” and she introduced unusual European dishes to her audience. Apparently, she led a colourful life and as she grew older, she applied more and more make-up and usually sported elaborate chiffon ball gowns during her cooking demonstrations. Fannywent to that great food place in the sky in 1994at the age of 85.
Jennifer Paterson, one of the “Two Fat Ladies” (Photo Credit: waytofamous.com)
Clarissa, born Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright (whew!) in 1947, was not only an English celebrity chef but was also a writer and a former barrister (read: lawyer). Her sidekick, Jennifer Patersonwas born in 1928 and passed away in 1999.
The two co-authored a number of cookbooks including “Two Fat Ladies: Gastronomic Adventures” (1996), “Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies” (1998), “The Two Fat Ladies Ride Again” (1998), “The Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle” (1999) and “Two Fat Ladies – Obsessions” (1999).
“Cooking with the two fat ladies”
In filming their series “Two Fat Ladies“, the two travelled to their filming locations around the country on Jennifer’s motorcycle, with Clarissa occupying the sidecar. They were known for their recipes featuring a rather heavy-handed approach with butter, lard, and sugar. As Clarissa was fond of saying “Never trust a thin cook“. She died in 2014.
Some of you, like myself, “of an age“, might be familiar with other “whatever happened to...” chefs: Simone Beck, Ken Hom, Madhur Jaffrey, Graham Kerr, Martin Yan, and Rokusaburo Michiba, to name but a few.
Born in 1904, Simone Beck is best known in America because of her collaboration in writing “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 1961, with Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle. “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II” (without Louisette Bertholle) followed in 1970.
Her autobiography and last cookbook (with Suzy Patterson), was published in 1991, the year she died.
In 1982, after a 2-year global search, the BBC auditioned Ken Hom for a Chinese cookery series. According to Wikipedia, the resulting TV series “Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery” was a huge success and the companion book became one of the best-selling cookbooks ever published by BBC Books, selling more than 1.5 million copies. Today after numerous printings it still remains in print.
Mr. Hom, born in 1949, has appeared in numerous BBC series and in 2012, he co-presented the BBC series “Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure” with Ching He Huang. Since 1981 he has authored many cookbooks, including “Chinese Technique“, published in 1981 and “My Kitchen Table: 100 Easy Chinese Suppers“, in 2012.
She brought Indian cuisine to the Americas with her first cookbook “An Invitation to Indian Cooking“, published in 1973, which was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2006.
“An Introduction to Indian Cooking” by Madjur Jaffrey, published in 1973
She has authored more than a dozen cookbooks and has appeared in the notable “Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery” television program, which began in the UK in 1982. She continues to be a food consultant.
Most foodies will remember “The Galloping Gourmet“, aka Graham Kerr. Born in London, he made several moves over the years, first to New Zealand, then to Australia, and finally, Canada. While in New Zealand, in 1958, he became chief catering advisor for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
It was during his tenure in Canada that he hosted “The Galloping Gourmet“, from 1969 to 1971, which was a smash. “The series was known for its lighthearted humour, tomfoolery and the copious use of clarified butter, cream and fat”, according to Wikipedia and Kerrwould begin each show by running in and leaping over a chair in the dining room set.
“The Galloping Gourmet” jumping over a dining room chair on the set (holding a glass of wine!) (undated) (Photo Credit: http://www.tastecooking.com)
“The Graham Kerr Cookbook” by “The Galloping Gourmet”
He published numerous cookbooks and later appeared in other shows including “The Graham Kerr Show” and “Graham Kerr’s Kitchen“, as well as other series. He is currently writing his 31st book titled, “Alone“.
He opened a chain of “Yan Can Restaurants” and founded the “Yan Can International Cooking School” in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also has more than two dozen cookbooks to his credit. He hosts “Martin Yan – Quick and Easy” In addition, he has served as a guest judge on shows including “Hell’s Kitchen“, “Top Chef“, “Iron Chef America” and “Iron Chef Vietnam“.
Rokusaburo Michiba, born in 1931, is a Japanese cuisine chef most notable as the first Japanese Iron Chef on the television series “Iron Chef” and appeared on the series from its beginnings in 1993 until his retirement in 1996.
After his retirement as an Iron Chef, he continued to make the occasional appearance on the show. A special tribute “The Legend of Michiba“, was dedicated to him in 1996. Michiba’s trademark item was his famous “Broth of Vigour“, which he featured in nearly all of the dishes he prepared for the Iron Chef series.
On a final note, perhaps one day we will ask “whatever happened to...” Susur Lee, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking,Gail Simmons, or Claudio Aprile? Perhaps they are sitting comfortably somewhere in The Great White North, counting their loonies!
“The Table Manners Polka” from The Best Foot Forward Series: Gratitude Attitude by Mike Soloway. Released: 2013
Manners and a sense of”decorum” are universal. What is acceptable within one culture is totally rude in another. I suppose that is where the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” originated. If you should travel outside of your comfort zone without a sound knowledge of other people’s customs and manners, you are bound to offend, appear to be RUDE and generally will not be invited for a return engagement.
Many “older” cookbooks generally have a chapter on etiquette or “table manners” and the majority of them were published at the turn of the century and into the 1940’s. Somehow, though, apparently etiquette went the way of the dinosaur, at least in more recent cookbooks and in my large collection, I seldom see any mention of such mundane topics in books published in the last 50 or so years. If there is a recently published cookbook, which includes a section on “table manners”, I sincerely hope that #1 rule is: NO CELL PHONES AT THE DINING TABLE, NO MATTER WHERE OR WHEN, PERIOD!
From my collection, I selected a few cookbooks with sections on such esoteric matters. From a marvelous and, I assume, seldom seen cookbook entitled “The Kazakh national cuisine“, published in 2007, the following are extracted from the chapter “Omens, bans and popular notions regarding meals“.
“For sure one should not speak with his mouth full“.
For those who follow my posts, you might be interested in this interview, which was just posted today (5/24/2018), on http://www.seriouseats.com. Oddly enough, under a features column by editor Sho Spaeth, entitled “Obsessions“! Hope you enjoy it! Just click on the link, below:
Music – “That Old Recipe” from Pat-a-Cake Baby (Songs from the Show) by Tom Gray. Released: 2017
One of the cookbooks in my collection, published in 1910, is “A Year’s Dinners – 365 Seasonable Dinners with Instructions for Cooking“, by May Little. Well, little did May know (pardon the pun), that, while she was slaving over a six course family dinner in 1910, a hundred years hence, she could have “cooked” a (possibly) nutritious meal in less than 15 minutes, thanks to fast food and instant heat and serve technology! What a difference a generation makes!
“A Year’s Dinners”, by May Little, published in 1910
According to Human Progress (2017), in 1910, approximately 6 hours a day were involved in cooking meals, including cleanup. And, given these “typical” weeknight family dinners from “A Year’s Dinners“, I’d bet more than 6 hours were dedicated just to cooking! Not to mention procuring the food, stoking the stove, hand washing dirty pots and pans, etc.
By the mid-1960’s, that number dropped to 1.5hours and by 2008, on average, only 1 hour was engaged in food preparation. The USDA, in 2016, reports that in 2014, Americans aged 18 and over spent only 37 minutes in food preparation, including cleanup (as in “put it in the dishwasher”). As Roberto Ferdman says in his article “The slow death of the home-cooked meal”, 2015, “Cooking isn’t dead in this country. But it isn’t exactly alive and well either“.
And, although cookbooks are still good sellers, most cookbook purchases are for reasons other than cooking. In addition, bestselling cookbooks seem to be “personality driven, not recipe driven” As Diane Jacob says, “Cookbooks still sell well. As cookbook authors, do we not care if our readers ever make a recipe, as long they buy the book?”
According to Publishers Weekly, in 2016, cookbook sales were up 6% from the previous year, and most are print books, not e-books. So, although cookbooks are still alive and well, their usage as cooking guides seems to be less important than, perhaps, celebrity appeal. The dearth of “celebrity chefs” has increased tremendously in recent years, a term I had never heard, even when Julia Child was whipping up a storm in her kitchen in the 1960’s.
In “A Year’s Dinners“, the author points out that “Great care has been taken to avoid monotony, which so frequently occurs in the everyday household“. For fun, I decided to randomly select a day of the year and peruse (note: I said “peruse”, not “cook”) the recipes for that day, May 9, 1910 (which happened to be a Monday, and the day on which George V was formally proclaimed king, three days after his father’s death). So, cooks, gear up for this typical 1910 Monday evening dinner for the family, if you are brave enough and have a day or so to spare:
Consomme Brunoise Lobster Patties Grilled Lamb Cutlets Minced Veal and Poached Eggs Potatoes Cabbage Rum Omelet Marrow Toasts
Now, the recipe for the Consomme Brunoise is fairly time-consuming.
Even prior to beginning it, you must have already created your basic stock (in which meat soaks for 1 hour and simmers for another 5), to which you then shred beef, remove the fat, add egg whites and the crushed shells, whisk, add vegetables and boil gently for 20 minutes.
“I had a dream last night that one day, there will be instant soup and I won’t be breaking my back over this Consomme Brunoise!” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)
Then, you must pour the stock through a clean cloth, pouring sherry through it first, adding the garnish and the rinsed vegetables (small cubes in Brunoise), etc., etc., etc. Tired already? Too bad. You’ve got a whole lot more to do.
Grilled Lamb Cutlets need no recipe (figure it out!).
Simple Grilled Lamb Cutlets is the easiest thing on the May 9th, 1910 dinner for the family! (Photo Credit: http://www.manusmenu.com)
For the Minced Veal and Poached Eggs, you must first cook the veal in white stock, with herbs and spices, then mince it finely and make a white sauce (see page 411). Serve in the centre of a potato border (yup, another recipe), and garnish with cut lemon and parsley.
“Well, for the Minced Veal and Poached Eggs, first you have to butcher the meat…” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)
As for the potatoes and cabbage, you have artistic license here.
Rum Omelet requires separating yolks from whites of eggs, beating with sugar, melting some butter, pouring in the eggs, stirring until the mixture begins to set, shaping the omelet, spreading a little jam of your choice over it, blah, blah, blah, dousing it with rum and setting fire to it just as you serve it.
Just the thing to wrap up the Monday night dinner with Hubby and the kids. A nice, flaming rum omelet (made with the good stuff!) (Photo Credit: http://www.recipesmy.com)
The author notes that cheap rum will not do: “Good rum is necessary or it will not burn“.
And, for the finale to your mundane Monday night dinner (Marrow Toasts), butter some neat rounds of toast, put beef marrow into a pan with salt, boil, drain and spread on the toast and season with salt and pepper: if you’re very bold, you might add a bit of cayenne to it.
There you go: Bob’s your uncle, as we say in Canada! Just in case you’re not Canadian, “Bob’s your uncle“ is a way of saying “you’re all set” or “you’ve got it made. But, don’t think you can rest on your laurels (or your derriere). There’s May 10th dinner to start planning: American Tomato Soup, Stuffed and Baked Fillets of Plaice, Fried Sweetbread, Fricandeaux of Beef, Potatoes, Asparagus, Maltese Pudding, and Cheese Pyramids. However, if all else fails, there’s always:
Music – “I Can Eat a Lot” from Best of Kids’ Songs, Vol. 2 by Dream English. Released: 2012
CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
Competitive eating competitions are nothing new. According to an article in a 2008 issue of Time, “Face-stuffing” has been part of the human condition for a long time. A collection of 13th century Norse myths tells of such a contest between a god (Loki) and his servant. allegedly, the servant won the contest by eating the plate.
The Norse God “Loki”, challenging his servant to an eating contest. The servant supposedly won the challenge by consuming the plate as well as the food. (Photo Credit: http://www.hurstwic.org)
In 1963, a gentleman named Eddie “Bozo” Miller ate 27 chickens (presumably cooked) at a Trader Vic’s restaurant in San Francisco, and took the Guinness World Record Title of “world’s greatest trencherman”.
Eddie “Bozo” Miller, consuming an entire chicken plus assorted extras. (Photo Credit: http://www.sfgate.com)
There are books and websites devoted to the subject of how to prepare for competitive eating, along with tips and strategies: practice by increasing your stomach capacity, start off by eating as fast as you possibly can, have “manners”, but don’t eat one fry at a time, how to increase your jaw strength, etc.
This gentleman will never win a french fry eating competition for obvious reasons. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)
But, aside from what such gluttony one indulges in, in an extremely short period of time, often mere minutes, and the obvious (ahem!) and perhaps, not so obvious side effects of such eating challenges, there is the simple caloric intake, not to mention sodium, fat, carbohydrates, etc.
I recently acquired a fascinating book, “What I Eat – Around the World in 80 Diets“, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, published in 2010. The book details portraits of 80individuals from around the globe, with the food they consume in a single day.
“What I Eat” details the eating habits of 80 people from around the globe.
Individuals from more than 30 countries and a dozen US states were included in this fascinating photo essay. The extremes are remarkable: from the 800 calorie a day diet of a Maasai Herder in Kenya, to the 12,300 calorie a day diet of British “Snacker Mom”, Jill McTighe.
There are numerous well-known competitive eaters out there today, and if you’ve ever watched any food competitions on TV, you’ve probably seen the likes of Joey Chestnut. By example, consider that in July, 2017 at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog competition, Mr. Chestnut ate 72 hot dogs (including the buns), in 10 minutes. And he didn’t choke to death!
Joey Chesnut at the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition, demonstrating a plateful of 72 hotdogs (with buns), which he managed to choke down in 10 minutes. (Photo Credit: http://www.yahoo.com)
But to put things into perspective, in a mere 10 minutes, he consumed 20,160 calories(about 18,000 more than the daily recommendations for an adult male), along with a lot of fat, carbs and cholesterol, not to mention 56,160 mg of sodium! The recommended daily sodium ingestion for an American male is no more than 1,500 mg, and even lower if you’re on a sodium restricted diet. Whew! Another seasoned veteran of the competitive eating circuit is Takeru Kobayashi, an agressive competitor in both hot dog and chicken wing eating.
By comparison, in “What I Eat“, the book “…represents 80 people around the world and what they ate in one ordinary day. It is organized according to the number of calories consumed, from least to most”. The book begins with Noolkisaruni Tarakuai, a Maasai Herder in Kenya. In an average day, the slender 103 pound gentleman consumes approximately 800 calories: a thick cornmeal porridge, one banana, black tea with whole milk and sugar, and about 2 quarts of water, hauled from a reservoir and boiled.
Noolkisaruni Tarakuai, a Maasai Herder in Kenya. Photo from “What I Eat”
Contrast this with 230 pound Jill McTighe (aka “Snacker Mom”), mentioned above, whose daily intake of calories averages 12,300. Her daily routine includes breakfast, a midmorning snack, lunch, tea, dinner, evening TV snacks and “snacks and other”.
Jill McTighe and an assortment of her daily food items (Photo from “What I Eat”)
Adam Richmanwas formerly the host/star of the Food Network TV series, “Man vs. Food“. Mr. Richman ate a lot and ate it very fast. I’m not sure how long he was on the series, but he is no longer hosting it. One might speculate on the reasons for his departure from the show, but my guess is he simply couldn’t stomach (pardon the pun) any more binges. His replacement, Casey Webb, seems to be doing a good job and thoroughly enjoying it. Long may he eat (and live to tell about it).
Kate Ovens tackles a 3 foot long sausage roll in the UK. She is a regular at food eating competitions (where DOES she put it all??) (Photo Credit: http://www.metro.co.uk)
As long as there is an abundance of food available, there will be people around to eat it…in huge quantities and in record time. There are Guinness World Recordholders everywhere. I even happen to be one of them, however, my acquisition of the title took considerably longer than 3 minutes and did not wreak havoc with my digestive system.
This gentleman took the Guinness World Record for the most chicken nuggets eaten in 3 minutes (642 grams, or approximately 37 nuggets) (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)
And, finally, a word to the wise: “We discourage anyone from doing contests without emergency medical technicians,” George Shea, chair of MLE, told Time in 2014. Well said.
Music – “What’s to Eat?” from I Am Just a Kid: Songs for Kids + Parents by Rod Owens. Released: 2007.
Among my cookbooks, I have several catering to the care and nurturing of children, through food. “Food & Fun for Daughter and Son“, by Lila Erminger and Marjorie Hopkins, was published in 1946 and has chapters including “Timely Tips”, “The Careful Parent” and “Daily Dietary Pattern”.
In their book, the authors point out that one should “Never serve meals carelessly – they should look, smell and taste good“.
Carelessly served meals tend to be a bit off-putting to the appetite (Photo Credit: http://www.paulstravel blog.com)
In addition, they also suggest that “For the sake of novelty eat in new places about the house“.
Of course, it goes without saying that “…a taste for new dishes may need cultivating” and don’t forget that one should occasionally allow a child “…to dress as he pleases for supper and pretend it is a special event”
Jennie Burdick, author of “What Shall we Have to Eat?”, published in 1922, suggests that it would be a good thing “….if all food could be locked up in the intervals (between meals) so that no one would be tempted“.
Irma Rombauer, in addition to her famous “Joy of Cooking”, also authored “A Cookbook for Girls and Boys“, first published in 1946. Irma takes a novel approach in attempting to teach children how to cook, by relating lively stories along with the recipes.
“A Cookbook for Girls and Boys” by Irma Rombauer, first published in 1946 and this revised edition in 1952.
Before the children can learn to cook eggs, they are regaled with Irma’s story about chickens and eggs:
“I was once motoring with three friends along an Illinois highway. A hen started to cross the road, hesitated, stopped, then changed its mind and made a fatal dash. Our car struck it amidships and we proceeded on our way through a light flurry of feathers.
When we stopped for oil shortly after this roadside tragedy, the gas-station attendant asked in surprise: “What is this you have on your radiator?” What indeed! A fried egg! However, I recommend a less complicated method for everyday use…”
Now, I don’t know about children in 1946, old enough to read and use Irma’s cookbook, but I have my doubts that they will be enthusiastic about her advice on the amounts of meats to purchase if planning a meal for the rest of the family. In my youth, although I learned to cook, I never had any desire to prepare liver, heart, kidneys, brains and sweetbreads to serve to my family (and I still don’t!), however, Irma seems to think that girls and boys would be amenable to these fine dishes (not). Find me a child today, who can cook “Shrimp in Creole Sauce” or “Scalloped Oysters“, if they were even affordable.
We all know by now that fast food is detrimental to growing children and is associated with obesity, diabetes, allergies and a host of other nasty things. So, parents, if you want your children to grow up to be healthy adults, start’em off early. Replace the burgers with a plateful of clams. Ditch the white bread for farina biscuits heaped with fried liver. Hide the candy and bring on the stewed prunes. And, for goodness sake, don’t forget to lock the refrigerator!
Music – “A Life Well Lived” from A Life Well Lived by Earth Mama. Released: 2012
This is not a Walt Disney production, but rather it is a brief story about a genteel lady, who recently passed away at the age of 101 years and 5 months. She was a very dear friend of my late mother, who died in 2006 at the age of 89. Although this ladywas born in the USA, her family moved to Canada in the early 1930’s, where she grew up and spent the rest of her very long life.
When I heard from her daughter that this lady had died, I started to think of all of the innovations in food and technology she must have experienced since her birth in 1916, and also those witnessed by my own mother, who was born in 1917. What most of us take for granted now wouldn’t be on the dinner table or in our households for many years to come.
In the year of this genteel lady’s birth, the first mass-produced electric refrigerators were available to the general public, for $900. DOMELRE (The name DOMELRE is a contraction of DOMestic ELectric REfrigerator) was a very early model. Given inflation, in 2017, that same refrigerator would be worth $21,096 ! No wonder not many families could afford them in 1916!
However, her parents might have been able to purchase the first commercially available automatic dishwasher, which Josephine Cochrane created as an improvement on an earlier version from the late 19th century. She showed the dishwasher at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but only restaurants and hotels showed an interest in it. Cochrane founded a company to manufacture her dishwashers, which eventually became KitchenAid®.
The first “electric cook stove”, invented by The Hughes Electric Heating Company was founded in Chicago by George A. Hughes (1871-1944) and was displayed at a convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1910. Whether our ladygrew up with one as a child is unknown.
In 1916, her parents would be paying $.07 for a loaf of bread and $0.15 per pound for coffee. Eggs were $.34 a dozen (available to be supplied in egg cartons, which were invented in 1911by a Canadian), sugar was $.04 per pound, a quart of milk was $.09 and a pound of steak was $.26 (cheaper than eggs!)
Her mother would not have had a copy of “The Boston Cooking School Cookbook”, by Fannie Farmer, on her kitchen shelf. It wasn’t published until 1918.
The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, published in 1918
Although she was too young to imbibe, if our lady had been “of age”, she would not have been able to purchase alcoholic beverages. In 1920, Prohibition began in the USA, which banned the sale of all alcoholic beverages. This grand lady was 8 years of age, when Caesar Cardini, of Tijuana, Mexico, “invented” the Caesar Salad in 1924.
While she spent the majority of her life in Canada, American products were, for the most part, available to Canadians. She probably had home-baked bread, since “Wonder Bread” did not debut in the USA until 1921.
Early ad for “Wonder Bread” (Photo Credit: www. wikipedia. com)
There were no “Birds Eye Frosted Foods” in her mother’s freezer in the 1920’s (if she had a freezer). Charles Birdseye didn’t patent his products until the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.
It was not until this grand lady was 7 years old, in 1923, when she might have been able to taste Welch’s Grape Jelly or Sanka Coffee (which her parents probably prohibited her from sampling!) However, she likely wouldn’t have been able to put jelly on her toast until the “Toastmaster”, a pop-up toaster for households, was available in 1926.
In 1927, at the age of 11, she would have been too old to slurp up the newly marketed Gerber’s Baby Foods, but she might have been able to purchase a Pez Candy Dispenser for a few pennies.
Between the ages of 14 through 23, this grand ladywould have witnessed a plethora of foods available to consumers, that for most of us, have been around “forever”: Hostess Twinkies (1930), Bisquick (1931), Skippy Peanut Butter (1932), Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup (1933), and Ritz Crackers (1934). It was not until this young lady was 20 would she have ever heard of Betty Crocker. Betty wasn’t born until 1936. And Lifesavers candy was available in Canada, using the famous Dionne Quintuplets in their advertising.
She would not have been given a TV dinner by her mother, and parked in front of the TV set, at least not until she was 37 years old! Swanson’s “TV Brand Frozen Dinner” was not available until 1953 and television sets were expensive and generally not really marketed in Canada until the early 1950’s.
In her 51st year, 1967, this grand lady would have been able to purchase the first countertop microwave oven available to residential kitchens, by the Amana Corporation. That year, she would also have been able to sample the offerings at the opening of the first McDonald’s in Canada, however, she would have had to travel across the country to Richmond, BC to do so!
Some of the many utilitarian and household items we now take for granted were simply unavailable to this grand lady until later, for example, “Tupperware” and similar containers weren’t patented until 1948. Paper towels weren’t sold for general household use until the 1930’s.
Imagine…paper towels for household use! (Photo Credit: www. pinterest.com)
If you or I were to take a look around our homes at our possessions, so many of the items were just a twinkle in some inventors’ eye at one time, so to speak. This grand lady would not even have seen a home computer until she was 61, and even then, they were not generally available until she was about 65 years old. Until her later years, there was no e-mail, no IPads or IPods, no Instagram or Facebook, no Internet, no online shopping, no cell phones or laptop computers.
A “smart” fridge, quite a bit different from the models of the early 20th century! (Photo Credit: www. pinterest.com)
Imagine a time when people grew up without these devices, if you can. Imagine not having a mega-TV screen (let alone a TV!), a smart phone, or a car that can brake automatically and park itself. Imagine no intelligent refrigerator, no LED lights, no jumbo jets, no space station, no vacuum food sealer, no Costco or Sam’s Club, no slow cooker or air fryers. Can you even remember a time when you couldn’t run to just about any local grocery store and have access to more than 35,000 items from around the globe? This grand lady and my own Mom saw it all, the best and the worst. What a time to have lived!
Music – “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” from Classic Christmas Party by Kay Kyser & His Orchestra. Released: 2012.
This is a copy of my post from December, 2013. The prices have probably gone up!
1913 New Years Card
Ah….imagine New Year’s Eve at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The glitz, the glam, the booze! Where the beautiful people go to see and be seen.
One hundred years ago this 2013 New Year’s Eve, fashionable and wealthy New Yorkers probably dined in style for a 1913 New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel, most likely accompanied by the musical stylings of some band or orchestra, perhaps even the Waldorf Astoria Orchestra, although little information about the evening at the hotel on that date is available.
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City
They might have danced to the likes of popular 1913 songs like “Peg O’ My Heart” by Al Bryan, or “The International Rag” by Irving Berlin. Also popular in 1913 were “I’m On My Way to Mandalay” by Al Bryan and “Snookey Ookums”, by Irving Berlin. Oh, the excitement! The festivities! The dancing! The tuxedos and top hats! The champagne! The champagne!
I located a vintage menu from the Waldorf Astoria, and although not New Year’s Eve, was dated March 9th, 1913. One could assume that the prices a few months later, especially for New Year’s Eve, would have escalated accordingly, nevertheless, here is a selection of what was available on a 1913 dinner menu at the Waldorf Astoria. Just to put things into perspective, I included the 2013 equivalent prices, (if the same menu still exists, which I doubt), adjusted for inflation, and calculated using the 2013 CPI (Consumer Price Index):
Rack of Lamb, Renaissance
1913 $1.10 2013 $25.17
Galantine of Capon
1913 $ .75 2013 $17.16
Bisque of Clams
1913 $ .30 2013 $ 6.86
1913 $1.30 2013 $29.74
Roast Turkey with Giblet Sauce
1913 $ .65 2013 $14.87
If our 1913 diner selected the soup (Bisque of Clams, $.30), Venison ($1.30), Peach Melba ($.60), and washed it down with a shared bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial Crown Champagne ($1.83 per bottle), add a bit more for a side dish of potatoes or another vegetable (about $.30), the grand total without champagne would be about $2.50. Sharing a bottle of champagne would add another $.45 to the tab, for a grand total of $2.95 for a luxurious dinner, with music AND dancing!
If our 2013 reveler selected the same items, if available, Bisque of Clams ($6.86), Venison ($29.74), Peach Melba ($13.73), a side dish of potatoes or another vegetable ($6.86), the grand total without champagne would be about $57.19. Add on the glass of champagne, shared with friends, of course ($10.75), our 2013 reveler will have to spend at least $67.94 to enjoy the same meal as his 1913 predecessors did, and probably a good deal more.
I looked at the venue for next week’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. They are offering the “Peacock Alley Dinner Buffet”, on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013, commencing at 7:00 p.m. (with a maximum seating time of 2 hours per customer, thank you very much).
Peacock Alley Buffet at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City (undated)
The buffet includes one (1) champagne toast (probably a thimbleful, but perhaps I’m being unfair), however, it does NOT permit access to after dinner dancing. Per adult, you will pay $275.00 plus a $16.12 processing fee to reserve your New Year’s Eve dinner. For that, you will have the privilege of grazing for two solid hours on whatever their buffet offers (for the full meal deal including dancing, you’d better be prepared to fork over $500 per adult – if you bring your aged 12 and under child, it’s a mere $200 per kid).
New Years at a fancy restaurant, ca. 1910 – 1913
Imagine, though, if you were at the Peacock Alley Dinner Buffet on New Year’s Eve, 1913. You would have to fork out the princely sum of $11.68, plus $.68 handling fee for a wallet-busting $12.36. Your name better be Astor or Rockefeller to splurge like that! But music, dancing and revelry were probably part and parcel of the deal and I’ll bet party hats and favours were also included.
Well, I suppose it’s all relative, but you can bet that in 1913, if you didn’t have a wad full of cash in your pocket, you’d be out of luck paying for your New Year’s Eve dinner. The earliest credit cards didn’t materialize in this country, for general use, until 1950, when Diner’s Club came out with their card, which could be used at participating restaurants.
For all of those revelers celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Waldorf Astoria, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy (but only for 2 hours). The rest of us will probably be eating pizza and having just as much fun.
Music – “Fruitcake Rag” from Big Mama by Funky Butt. Released: 2005
Having spent the last 23 years of my life in New Mexico, I now feel qualified to comment on the differences between holidays in Canada and holidays celebrated in the USA. First of all, Americans (well, at least some of them) celebrate “Columbus Day“, on the second Monday of October. Calling this day “Columbus Day“, however, has recently fallen out of favour. Although Christopher Columbus is regarded as having “found” America, the country was already populated by indigenous people, who were subsequently annihilated in large numbers by European colonists wanting to claim the land for themselves.
However, as every Canadian worth his or her salt knows, the second Monday in October is THANKSGIVING! Of course, there are a million ways cultures in Canada celebrate the holiday, but the dyed-in-the-wool Canucks partake of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. One thing I have learned living in New Mexico: it is nigh impossible to find fresh cranberries on “Columbus Day“.
No way you will find these in New Mexico on Thanksgiving Day (aka “Columbus Day” in this country) (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com)
One year, there was an exception, and the cranberry gods were good to me. That, however, was an anomaly. I have learned to buy and freeze, although the texture 12 months later suffers somewhat in the translation. The good people at Ocean Spray tell me that they start harvesting cranberries in early October, so I don’t know why they can’t manage a small shipment to New Mexico, for “Columbus Day“. I shall have to take them at task for that oversight.
Now, speaking of “Thanksgiving” (the American one), just about everybody has heard of “Black Friday“, that day of unbridled sales, short tempers, long queues (that’s “long lines” in Canuckspeak) and great bargains galore. Not to be confused with “Black Tuesday“, which marked the disastrous fall of the New York Stock Exchange on October 29th, 1929. Even Canadians know about “Black Friday“, and have even recently been staging some on the day after American Thanksgiving. But, I ask you, how many Americans are familiar with “Boxing Day“?
(Boxing Day in Canada) “I’m so sorry that I took the last big screen TV. Will you be OK?” (Photo Credit: http://www.usatoday.com)
It follows the day after Christmas (which both Amercuns and Canucksacknowledge to be December 25th) and December 26th is the equivalent of “Black Friday“, except, Canadians, being ever so polite, do not push, shove or otherwise tackle other bargain hunters, even apologizing if they take the last item in stock (“sorry!“). “Boxing Day” is common in the commonwealth countries, and there are several schools of thought as to the origin: in Feudal times, it was customary for the land owners to “gift” their peons leftover Christmas food on the day after the big eat-down, in (obviously), boxes. Another school of thought suggests that Anglican parishes collected money and food in their churches on Christmas Day, which were subsequently distributed to the poor on the following day in (obviously), boxes. So, there you have it.
There are some things in New Mexico, which I never witnessed in all of my years in Canada (some should not be mentioned here!). The lighting of thousands of luminarias, which are votive candles placed in paper lunch bags, filled with sand, and lit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Luminarias in Old Town, Albuquerque, on Christmas Eve. Never saw these back home in Canada! (Photo Credit: http://www.tripadvisor.com)
Residences and businesses alike sport them, but alas, technology has diminished the excitement of lighting each candle…..it’s a lot easier to just plug in a chain of plastic replicas, linked together, although the thrill is gone. No peering out the window to see how many have to be relit after the wind dies down or how many were catapulted across the street into your neighbour’s yard, which is now on fire. That’s progress.
At least in southern Ontario, where I grew up, I never saw a tumbleweed, although I know they are prevalent in the western provinces. New Mexico, being a desert, has an abundance of these huge, spiny creatures and they pile up against fences, in parks, on the sides of highways and any open space. There was an enormous one growing in the front yard of our residence, when we moved in 2015, but I was ill-versed in the proper way to dispose of it. Armed with a shovel and a lot of pull (they have very deep roots when they are still growing), I grappled with it for some time before it gave up. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that the stems exude a very caustic substance, which combined with scratches on my arms from wrestling with it, caused an extensive and long-lasting rash.
But, in New Mexico, the locals use the same analogy as “if you have lemons, make lemonade“. In Albuquerque, every year, employees of the Water Authority scour the local terrain for the biggest and best tumbleweeds, which are then assembled on a large steel frame, spray painted white, and adorned with appropriate facial appendages….even a knit red scarf and a pipe are included. The 12 foot tumbleweed snowman stands at attention on the side of I-40 just west of the city limits. A+ to recycling!
The 12 foot tall tumbleweed snowman at the side of I-40 just outside Albuquerque. Re-cycling at its best. (Photo Credit: http://www.KRQE.com)
Despite the fact that there are several cultures that use “mincemeat“, both sweet and savoury, my attempts at Walmart last week to procure some bottles of the sweet stuff met with puzzled looks from the shelf stockers. “Mishmeat ?” queried one young lady. “Mincemeash ?” queried another.
A third stocker was pointed out to me, who was apparently the authority on such esoteric items. She directed me to a Christmas display, full of candies, sugar cookies, and the like, and in the midst were a few bottles of sweet mincemeat. It was a learning experience (perhaps for the other shelf stockers).
I had never heard of “Zozobra” before moving to New Mexico. As far as I know, there is no Canadian equivalent. “Zozobra” is the 50 foot marionette effigy known as “old man gloom” and is burned every September at the Fiestas de Santa Fe. “Zozobra” means “anxiety” in Spanish and the burning of Zozobra is a way for the celebrants to alleviate the stresses and worries of life, watching them burn away in the night. Sounds good to me, except that we should have one at least a couple of times of year. By the time September rolls around, the stress levels are too high!
Holidays aside, “Canadian” stuff, which I have never seen in New Mexico include Butter Tarts, Poutine, milk in plastic bags, nor is there any sign of a Tim Horton’s, Harvey’s Hamburgersor Swiss Chalet. Some other things I’ve never seen in New Mexico around the holidays:
Tobogganing is a Canadian pastime (in the winter!), but I’ve never witnessed it in New Mexico. (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)
Plum Pudding is another Canadian tradition at Christmas, but you’d be hard pressed to find one in Albuquerque. (Photo Credit: http://www.hongkiat.com)
Holiday “crackers” were always a feature of a Christmas and New Year’s celebration. When the ends of the cardboard tube are pulled, a kind of cap gun snaps, producing a wisp of acrid smoke. Inside are small candies, a paper hat, perhaps a fortune and riddles. (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)
Ice skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is a huge event in winter (I’ve never even see ice on the Rio Grande!) (Photo Credit: http://www.ottawatourism.ca)
But, when push comes to shove, there is one common theme that binds Canadians and Americans together at one holiday. Fruitcake! Fruitcake is the symbol of Christmas feasting, whether you like it or despise it. My spouse adores it. I can choke down a piece once a year.
Ah, the beloved (or despised) fruitcake, the tradition that binds Americans and Canadians together. (Photo Credit: www. pinterest.com)
So, “Canada” is not really an international country, despite the fact that many Americansseem to think so (so does the Post Office and the IRS). Who knew that, despite our numerous differences, it would be fruitcake that binds us together (you may interpret “bind” in any way you prefer)! But, next year, can someone please arrange for some fresh cranberries for “Columbus Day“, in Albuquerque, so that I can celebrate Thanksgiving properly? It would be appreciated.