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“Crazy Shoe Stew” from Cool Songs Collection & Times Table Fun by William Avery. Released: 2007
No doubt, we’ve all had a meal that we found distasteful, inedible and would have just as soon relegated it to the trash. But, a recipe for “Edible Garbage“? Seems like an oxymoron to me. Would you be willing to cook shoes for your family, or whore’s farts? (really!)
A fascinating cookbook in my collection is “The Curious Cookbook: Viper Soup, Badger Ham, Stewed Sparrows and 100 more Historic Recipes“, by Peter Ross, first published in London in 2012. Ross delves into historic recipes, whose titles are somewhat confusing at times, if not outright repulsive.
“Edible Garbage” consists of “fresh garbage” (faire Garbage), chicken heads, feet, livers and gizzards, tossed into a pot with beef broth, pepper, other spices and herbs. Bread is soaked in the broth and mashed through a strainer, which is then added to the pot. The recipe dates to 1450. Despite the name, it really sounds like darn good chicken soup, with the exception of the nebulous “garbage”.
“To Cook Shoes” is a recipe that just begs to be investigated. Not to be taken literally, of course, however, allegedly in 1980, a documentary film was made, which depicted director Werner Herzog eating his shoe, as part of a promise he made if Errole Morris ever completed the film “Gates of Heaven“. Supposedly the film was completed and Herzog honoured his promise, boiling up his shoes with the assistance of Alice Waters at her restaurant, Chez Panisse and eating one before an audience.
He did, however, explain that he would not eat the sole of the shoe, as that would be akin to eating chicken bones. However, in “The Curious Cookbook“, “To Cook Shoes” (1545) involves a “rumpe of beife“, boiled with cabbage, a few birds including partridge, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Where the “shoe” enters the picture is unknown, but perhaps the beef was so overcooked that it had the texture of leather.
Some of the recipes just can’t be envisioned, including “Butter Roasted on a Spit” (1615).
I scoffed at a recipe for “Dried Instant Vinegar for Travellers” (1615), until I found a modern ad for dried vinegar, but whether the ability and knowledge was available in 1615 to produce such an item I have to question.
Also picturesque is “Whore’s Farts” (1653), which is fritter batter, and when squeezed into hot oil from a syringe made some rather melodious sounds.
I find it hard to picture “Artificial Asses Milk Made with Bruised Snails“, no matter how long I concentrate (1747), and I don’t particularly want to envision “Lips, Noses, Udders, Ox-Eyes and Sparrows on Toast” (1660).
Who, however, could resist “Rabbits with Jaw-Bone Horns, a Bunch of Myrtle in Their Mouths and a Frothy Liver Sauce” (1800) Yum.
During Medieval times, longevity and storage was important, thus recipes such as “A Ketchup What Will Last You Twenty Years” (1747), courtesy of Hannah Glasse, which sounds like a fine Remy Martin Cognac, appropriately aged to perfection, or “A Barrel of Tripe to Take to the East Indies“, which should survive a nine month journey across tropical seas (1747). Opening the barrel must have been an olfactory experience to match none.
So, run, don’t walk to your bookstore and get a copy of “The Curious Cookbook” and cook up a mess of “Poisonous Purple Pears“, “Asparagus Coffee” (really!), and “Imitation Entrails” (who would want imitation, when you can have the real thing!)