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 (August, 2018) is 6,477)
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 August, 2018, the collection has grown to 6,477)
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 – “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” from 24 Polka’s Greatest Hits by Myron Floren. Released: 1995.
A possible new Olympic event is about to take place: the Pieathalon! It follows in a long line of “athlons“: the pentathlon (pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding and running), the triathlon (running, cycling and swimming), the biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting), and the decathlon (ten events including sprinting, hurdling, jumping and throwing), not to mention the duathlon (running and cycling), the heptathlon (seven events), and the tetrathlon (showjumping, swimming, running and pistol shooting).
However, in the Piathalon, “pieathletes” engage in the strenuous art of pie-making.
According to food blogger Emily Brungo, this is the 5th Annual Pieathalon. Essentially, the Pieathalon involves “…a bunch of food bloggers”, who are tasked with providing a pie recipe from a pre-1990 cookbook. Each participant submits a pie recipe, and the recipes are then re-assigned to another participant.
Suffice it to say, I have studied my assigned recipe in-depth, even pulling out my high altitude cookbooks to consult so as not to mess it up (my house is at approximately 5,600 feet). I am not really a baker, so I worry about my pie-making skill subset. However, it sounds like good fun and a lot of recipes to share with other food bloggers. When the pie crumbs have settled, I will post about the outcome. In the interim, I must start flexing my pieathletic muscles! Let the games begin!
“Wow. I sure hope I get invited back to next year’s Pieathalon!” (Photo Credit: http://www.alamy.com)
Music – “I Won’t Eat That” from I Won’t Eat That by Willy Welch. Released: 2002.
Well, the 4th of July is nigh (that rhymes!) and American families across the country will be celebrating. What better than a 4th of July dinner? Here are a few suggestions for a humdinger of a July 4th dinner from a cookbook in my collection, “Cooking for American Homemakers“, published in 1950. These recipes are recommended specifically for “4th of July Dinner”, however please feel free to make adjustments or substitutions (or omissions!)
Broiled Sweetbreads with Bacon. This is always at the top of the list for kids! You’ll want to make extra so that everyone gets a bellyful!
Molded Cucumber Salad has been a winner since the 1950’s (hasn’t it?) I’m still trying to figure out who decided that Jell-O and vegetables are a marriage made in heaven.
The ever-present molded cucumber salad. Whoever decided that Jell-O and vegetables went together? (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)
There are plenty of other recipes to try at your 4th of July outing: Iced Orange Bouillon, Liver Birds (I think they’re on the endangered list), Kidney Veal Chops (?) or, perhaps, boring old Corn on the Cob (so pedestrian!). Whatever meal you enjoy, have a happy and safe July 4th!
Music – “What’s An Oxymoron?” from Westmount Rhodesians by Bowser and Blue. Released: 1990
In browsing through several recently acquired used cookbooks, I was amused by some of the recipes and food terms, which I deem “oxymoronic“: “Desert Seafood Broth“, “Crab Meat Salad – Which can be served as a delightful vegetarian dish“, “Boneless Ribs“, and “Naturally Artificial“.
Know what “Safety Marinade” looks like? (neither do I!) However, it allegedly uses a lot of rum and garlic and, in addition to a few other ingredients, “…makes an excellent protective blend”, according to author Patricia Telesco of “The Kitchen Witch Companion“. The author also points out that loading knives in your dishwasher point up “…make for a hazard…” (well, duh!), which, perhaps “Safety Marinade” could have prevented.
Some of these recipes seem to resemble the outcome of a random word generator. “Lopsided Fluffy Ripe Cherries“, “Spicy, Delicious, Chicken Juice Output“, or “Bite-Sized Meat Flavor Milk Jelly“, for example are totally nonsensical and probably non-existent (hopefully!) All are hard to visualize, let alone cook. So, go ahead and find those oxymoronic and just plain weird recipes in your cookbooks. They’re out there!
The Kitchen Sink Cookbook (Carolyn Wyman) The Kitchen Witch Companion (Patricia Telesco) The Snacking Dead – A Parody in a Cookbook (D.B. Walker) Eater’s Digest (Lorraine Bodger) Southwestern Soups, Stews, & Skillet Suppers (Judy Walker & Kim MacEachern) Quick & Easy Japanese Snacks & Light Meals (Yukiko Moriyama)
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!