Sunday, July 29, 2012


Yuckylicious is on holiday for two weeks.

For the English, this means huddling on a beach in bathing suits and coats, trying to ignore the hail, taking a very quick dip in the frigid sea, and finally tucking in to some fish and chips as the sun sets imperceptibly behind a thick bank of cloud.

(Thanks to surfnslide for pic of Rhossili Bay, where the author of this blog spent many a fine summer shivering on the sand. Picture taken pretty much from the fish and chip shop, I'd guess.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Faggots have long been a staple of English cuisine. As a very down to earth dish, made from the remnants of butchery, it is perhaps understandable that here they are made to sound more fancy by calling them “Belgian,” though there is nothing in the recipe to suggest that there is anything foreign about them.

Calling any food item a “faggot” now would probably seem to many to be particular unsavory, given the more contemporary and derogatory use of the word to describe homosexuals. Neither of these two terms have any connection to the other faggot — that of a bundle of sticks, which has been a term in use since the 13th century.

 A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, Charles Elmé Francatelli, The Scolar Press, 1852

Monday, July 23, 2012


click to enlarge

If cooks know that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then cookbook writers know that the way to a woman’s heart is through her ego.

This heading is designed less to appeal to the technician who wants to cook things merely competently, but to the prideful woman whose pursuits in the kitchen are designed for personal glory. Aunt Jenny knows a thing or two when it comes to the psychology of the housewife who has perhaps lost other means of winning praise because her husband has become complacent about offering it, or because she’s become complacent about earning it in other ways. If the woman in question is not in the workplace, she needs to be queen of her domain, with a suited man ready and willing to tell the world how great her french fries are.

Enjoy Good Eating Every Day The Easy Spry Way, Lever Brothers Company, 1940

Also from this book: Spry

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sloe Gin

With a maturation time of seven years, it ought to be called “slow gin,” which is often what people think the word is. The sloe berry is a lovely blue which when touched turns to black, and was once very prevalent among British hedgerows, along with rosehips and blackberries. Rosehips, full of vitamin C, aren’t good to eat, but make a lovely sweet cordial.

 The sugar is necessary to extract the essence from the berries in the alcohol, which turns a deep red color.

Here is Joe Bonamassa singing his song “Sloe Gin.” It was originally written and performed by Tim Curry. 

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, Alice B. Toklas, 1954

Also from this book: One Toke Over The Line

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clean The Refrigerator Stew

The name of a dish ought to do at least two things: it should indicate what kind of dish it is, perhaps listing a main ingredient for identification purposes, and it should sound appetizing.

Rose Elder might have stopped at “Vegetable Stew,” although that would have been misleading, given the two pounds of beef in it. She certainly needn’t have indicated that this recipe is a catch-all for getting rid of items she no longer wants, or pointed to a housekeeping task that possibly reminds one of the nasty stuff left in the bottom of refrigerator bins that prompts you to clean them in the first place.

The Golfer’s Cookbook, Rose Elder, 1977

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Circumcised Apples

Well, the one in the foreground seems happy at least.

Microwave Miracles, Hyla O’Connor

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adventures in Salad

How can we make this salad look more…exciting? You know, it’s just an ordinary bowl of salad. My wife makes that all the time. I’m pretty fed up with it.

We could light it differently I suppose. Or shoot it from a different angle.

We could place it on this highly reflective shiny table and bury a flashlight in it.

Now you’re talking.

That’s splendid. It looks like a giant spaceship.

Salad’s so much better when it looks scary. Would you eat that?

No way.

Me neither. Well, we’re out of film. Give us a toke on that thing.

There’s not much left.

Great. Just great. 

Low-Cost Main Dishes, Family Circle, 1978

Monday, July 16, 2012

Breast Is Best

When, in the post-WW2 period, public health people questioned the alarming drop in the number of newborns who were being breastfed (while still in the hospital, where such things could be recorded — just less than 50% of new mothers did so), they found a correlation between “rooming in” and “not rooming in.” Rooming in meant that the infant remained in the room with its mother. Rooming out meant being shipped off to the nursery — you know the kind, where rows and rows of swaddled babies are looked at through glass by haggard-looking, smoking fathers, trying to figure out which one’s his.

The only possible response to this is: DUH.

Where is the incentive to nurse when your baby isn’t there? If you don’t start, you can’t continue. This is also the era in which SCIENCE was king, as evidenced by the concept and language of this chapter on sterilization. Note the large role the physician plays in determining what should be a no-brainer. Milk from the breast needs no sterilization. Yet this was the era in which women were venturing out into the workplace, and at the very least, were expected to wear extremely tailored clothing (like the lady in the picture), which doesn’t realistically allow for a figure thickened by baby weight or milk-heavy boobs.

This chapter is disingenuous. It begins with the rather accusatory question “What is more important than your baby?” but then treats the baby as an object. Even childbirth was seen as being unpleasantly physical an experience to share with your baby, something that had to be erased from your memory even while it was happening, with twilight sleep. You went into the hospital pregnant; you woke up in bed not pregnant. With your child nowhere to be seen.

Click to enlarge to read the whole thing

It is no accident that the milk substitute fed to infants is called formula. A formula is a solution, not a food.

Pressure Cookery For Every Meal, Ruth Berolzheimer, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mystery Meal

“It’s all very well filling your cupboards with cans,” Mabel complained, “but they all look exactly the same when the labels come off.”

Mabel and Dorothy were standing in the kitchen contemplating a table piled high with silver cans, all pulled from Mabel’s shelves after the flood. The colorful paper descriptions of what had been inside were reduced to mush and swept out with the last of the water, and Mabel, in her hurry to rescue everything she could save from her pantry, had pushed the cans hither and thither, so that now she was at a loss.

Dorothy picked one up and held it to her ear, shaking it slightly. “Sounds like it could be peaches,” she said. “Or maybe peas.” She put it down. “Or spaghetti.”

Mabel leaned against the counter and sighed. All the advertising she’d seen in the woman’s magazines had made much of the indestructibility of cans, and how they could bring endless variety to your diet. They were a boon for women like her. She’d never been much of a cook, and relished the chance to do away with the “bothersome preparation” that took up so much of her time. She liked to think she was being modern.

“It’ll have to be mystery meals from now on,” she said. “Bob won’t like it one bit.”

“How about we open a can and see?” suggested Dorothy. “I’m famished after all that cleaning.”

“You pick,” said Mabel. “Pick something good. Pick something tasty.”

Dorothy looked at the cans, stacked like a gleaming metal sandcastle, and reached out for one on the second layer. She withdrew it carefully, and replaced it with one from the top. “Here,” she said. “Please let it be fruit salad.”

Mabel opened the can and tipped its contents out onto a plate. It made a sucking sound. A cylindrical golden blob sat there, shapes buried within its mysterious jelly. She leaned forward to sniff it. It wobbled slightly. “Chicken,” she said.

The two women stood there and looked at it mournfully in the waning light. What was there to say? Mabel pulled the two handles of the can opener open and shut, open and shut, then placed it on the counter next to the jellified poultry.

Dorothy pursed her lips and lifted her eyebrows. Time passed. No words were necessary. They just knew.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mariachi Supper

A bowl of Mac and Cheese does not become “Mexican” simply by being served with a plate of tortillas. Or if you throw some bratwurst in there. Or Zucchini. Or if you put shredded cheddar cheese on top. Or if you serve it in an earthenware bowl. Or if you make it on May 5. Or if you call it “Mariachi Supper.”

Kraft’s Main Dish Cook Book, Kraftco Corporation, 1970

Also from this book: Suburbanites, Women's Lib

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's A Wrap!

There are some things in life that you prefer to be clingy, and some you don’t. Plastic wrap = yes; children and romantic partners = no.

You might think that a word like “clingy” is modern, and that clinginess is a contemporary trait born of a kind of socio-pathology we associate with the overly coddled. But it’s not quite — the word clingy dates back to 1710, where it meant to grip on to things (from the Old English clingan, to hold fast, or adhere), though the use of it to describe people is pretty new — from 1969. Apparently people could let go more easily before the hippies came along.

Cling film, known by various trade names involving the word “wrap,” has been adopted by the food service industry because of four essential qualities: it can stick to itself and smooth surfaces (the “cling”); is impermeable (won’t leak); is lightweight, and transparent.

Do not wrap your babies in plastic

 Sadly though, the PVC most good-quality wraps are made from is pretty toxic, and leaches plasticizers into your food, especially fatty food it touches, such as meat and cheese. The lower-quality, less clingy wraps you find today compromise by transferring less chemicals into your food but are less clingy, and therefore prone to leaks.

Sometimes plastic wrap isn’t used to preserve food at all, but as a binder, where great gobs of it are wrapped around things in lieu of rope. Whole sets of luggage, for example, originating from tropical places wherein scary insects might be hiding, used to be routinely cocooned in plastic wrap. (I once saw a very large and foul-smelling puddle of aged blood collecting underneath a set of such baggage that had either been abandoned or was waiting for its owner to claim at Heathrow airport. Clearly the suitcases held a carcass of some kind.)

As the delightful ad above also hints, plastic wrap can be used to envelop a living person for kinky pursuits, as this gentleman obviously knows. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Playing The Spoons

What’s astonishing about this 1960 ad for Campbell’s tomato soup isn’t that youngsters can be persuaded to actually eat a bowl of it, or how unfeasibly close their bowls are placed, or their matching oddly formal outfits, or even their oddly androgynous haircuts (are they boys? girls? one of each?), but that they both demonstrate, at such a young age, perfect form when holding their spoons.

While it is entirely possible that they are simply well-trained professionals who can maintain a pose while a director puts the spoon in their hand, it seems unlikely that a toddler could affect such poise without spilling. (Of course, who’s to say that the “soup” is actually a liquid; it could be dyed and dried Elmer’s School Glue for all we know.) But just look at the child on the right: it’s as if he (or she) had years of practice eating soup with a spoon (yet not enough maturity to be able to knock a pair of scissors out of a barber’s hand).

The look he (or she) is giving his (or her) sister (or brother) appears to be judging her (or his) reaction to the soup before he (or she) tastes his (or her) own spoonful. But it could also be a look that says “and I take it you looked over the residuals and made sure we’re getting the 12%, yes? Because I have a very important meeting with my broker as soon as this nonsense wraps and I’m dying for a drink. How does it taste? As bad as it looks? Because it smells like shit.”

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Ad, 1960

Friday, July 6, 2012


Many sports have associated with them a song known to fans, and perhaps even a specific food. At Wimbledon, one eats strawberries and cream and sings God Save The Queen. At a baseball game, you eat hot dogs and peanuts in the shell Cracker Jack and sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” To sing it, one stands up during the seventh inning stretch and raises one’s voice with gusto.

Boxes of Cracker Jack are considered the first junk food and used to come with a small prize inside the box. Nowadays the prize is made of paper to avoid becoming a choking hazard.

Here is a recipe for Cracker Jack from 1919 — a year of infamy in baseball.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vegetarian Meat

The idea that vegetarians were people who craved foods that mimicked meat to make up for the meat they rejected has been around a very long time. It is an idea perpetuated by people who aren’t themselves vegetarians, who find the very concept of not wanting to eat meat utterly baffling.

While leaving vegetarians to muddle through by themselves is acceptable, when it comes to entertaining, vegetarian guests pose a huge problem. What to serve them? Hence the many various recipes that call for ingenious replications of the meat experience. It’s as if the vegetarian really craves a hamburger but simply must refrain.

Creating an artificial steak is a bit tricky, so most recipes go for fake ground beef made from crumbled stuff. The Veggie Burger is now a staple in the frozen food aisle. This recipe from 1919 even goes so far as to eliminate butter, and doesn’t sound too appetizing. Perhaps the vegetarian would like some vegetables instead?

The Thrift Cook Book, Marion Harris Neil, 1919

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting Ahead

In 1919, the average housewife had to have at her disposal far more kitchen skills than the average lady today.

For example, she had to know how to remove the brains from a head, pluck out an animal’s eyeballs, and excavate its nose and hairy parts for small bones. She had to be able to peel a tongue and remove all the meat from the cooked head.

Yesterday's housewife did not have the convenience of  canned sheep's head.
This one proudly notes that it contains no preservative. Think about that.  

 She would have learned these techniques by watching her mother, and her mother would have done the same. The house would have smelled of simmering sheep’s head. There was no air conditioning.

That is all.

The Thrift Cook Book, Marion Harris Neil, 1919

Also from this book: Vegetarian Meat, Burnt Flour Soup

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pink Nut Kisses

Is your marriage suffering from the blahs? 

Has it been forever since your husband noticed you? 

Do you have a boyfriend who seems unable or unwilling to commit? 

Perhaps you’ve had a blazing row about politics or money and need to find a way to make up without having to surrender your position, or have been harboring a simmering resentment for decades that just needs to be quenched. 

Maybe your anniversary is fast approaching and you’d like to do something special this year so that you have the upper hand if he forgets. 

It could be that you need to break some joyful news about an unexpected pregnancy and have been putting it off and putting it off until he’s made subtle suggestions you go on a diet. 

Sometimes, accidents happen, and priceless, irreplaceable heirlooms get broken, misplaced, or accidentally donated to the Salvation Army and it’s about time you came clean. 
Ditto, beloved pets. 

It’s entirely possible that in a drunken stupor you mistakenly re-negged on your vows with an acquaintance of his, or even his brother, and must disclose this before someone else finds out. 

Or it could be that in a crisis of profligate and wanton spending you indulged yourself online using the joint account and know that any minute now the boxes will start to arrive.

If you are facing any of the lamentable situations above and need to renew, affirm, or pre-emptively re-dedicate yourself to your relationship, then give your man some Pink Nut Kisses. Most men only dream of a partner who surprises them when they come home with Pink Nut Kisses, but you can make his dreams come true! Offer them as soon as he walks in the door to maximize his surprise and delight! Soon enough, you might find he’ll request Pink Nut Kisses all the time. 

Go on – with your track record, it’s wise to indulge! 

Candies and Bonbons and How To Make Them, Marion Harris Neil, 1913

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