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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fannie Farmer Puts the Gay in Gaiety


My mother-in-law has given me a copy of her mother-in-law's "New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cook Book." It's the 1951 edition although the earlier editions date back to 1896. Not long, but a bit, before my birth. I am reminded again of how much of what we enjoy today has come about in recent years. Things like garlic, olive oil, basil, polenta, roasted tomatoes and peppers and the like have been around for many, many years. But only in recent times have they been used in the kitchen with such vigor like they are today. They appear on every menu in the world in all sorts of shapes and sizes and colors and combinations. And that makes me very happy. Much happier, say, than some of the recipes below that I've discovered in Fannie Farmer's cookbook. Some of them only SOUND terrible -- while some of them make me want to wretch as I look through how they are made:



Calf's Brains With Black Butter (calf's brains are preferred but lamb or sheep will do)


Frozen Fruit Salad I, II, III (as if one isn't enough)


Jellied Sweetbreads and Cucumber (couldn't even find a recipe on the WWW for this)




All I know is that I'm very happy to be a nearly all-veggie guy. My stomach turned upside down as I read through some of the recipes. There are all sorts of bits and bobs of information in this book from what each kitchen utensil looks like and is used for, how to crack nuts, and a whole chapter devoted to helping "Housewives who are bored with meal planning are those who have a cooking repertory of limited range and are conservative about trying anything new." But that's not all -- Did you know that "Menu making should put gaiety into housekeeping"??? Neither did I! But it clearly explains a lot of things to me about why I like being in the kitchen and creating new recipes.

16 comments:

Wayne said...

I just couldn't give up meat! I mean I like veggies too, but I needs my meat! And you know exactly what I mean.

Princessa lil mexico said...

looks like you need to have a dinner party soon.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Foo on vegetarians. My forebears didn't scratch and claw their way to the top of the food chain so that I could subsist on tofu and weeds. Eating meat, especially rare meat with the juices still running, is a way of honoring our ancestors.

Anonymous said...

The New Fannie is terrific--better have a look.

And meat, I grew up on a ranch-I want bloody red meat barely seared.

hh

Ryan said...

ok dinner party your place in the nude when?

kisses!

Ur-spo said...

I collect old cookbooks, so I enjoyed this entry.
Not only are the recipes interesting to read (sometimes interesting to try), but the cookbooks give a history to them.

I have one old cookbook that implies if the reader was a better cook, her spouse would not wander/stay home. It was up to her and her cooking.

Michael Guy said...

Oh, Lewis...you don't need a cookbook to learn how to crack your nuts. Just saying.

christopherc said...

First, the nude dinner party with Ryan... can I come too?

Second, Food is the quintessential part of human-ness! I love to cook, and I love my veggies and my meat. Fortunately, I grew up on a farm and many of those dishes that make you nearly wretch were golden nuggets that we would fight over to get just a taste of as children.

Fannie Farmer may have been friends with my grandparents from the sounds of many of those recipes!

Hope things are well in your world,
-C

bridgeout said...

I think I threw up in my mouth a little when I read the "cow brains" dish! YIKES! Let's hear it for garlic and olive oil!

Dan said...

My mom had an ancient beat-up Fannie Farmer cookbook. I think she only ever made one or two recipes from it though.

If you want to see some odd recipes check out:
http://whitetrashcookbook.com/

PS: Why do some meat-eaters act so threatened by vegetarians? No one's trying to tell them what THEY should eat. And for the record, our forebears were omnivores, not carnivores.

Billy said...

On our side of the world we have 'Wen-resepte' (Translated as Winning Recipes) that every house HAS TO have. Bless it, my mom gave me a copy when I first moved out of the house. Still have it, still not cooking out of it...

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

PS: Why do some meat-eaters act so threatened by vegetarians?

I think maybe it's because of vegetarians' inability to recognize irony. Really, meat eaters love vegetarians: if we ever have to resort to cannibalism, we know that you guys will have the cleanest meat. It'll probably be all tough, but we know how to braise.

Steven said...

Despite being a meat lover, the titles alone of these recipes were stomach turners. We need Martha to come up with more ingenious names.

Gregorio said...

Yumm! Good home country cookin' right there!! :)

Grego

Homer said...

I have my great-grandmother's cookbook with instructions on how to put your hand in the cookstove oven to see whether it is hot enough.

Homer said...

And a comment about the vegetarian issue- I've been one since 1983. Up until the mid-1990s I was often amazed at how angry people got when they learned that I didn't eat meat. I never commented on their choice of food.