Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eddie Gizzard

Jim: Hey, Bob — why don’t you and Nancy come over for a barbecue on Saturday? I’ve got a new grill.

Bob: Why sure, Jim, that would be great, thanks. What do you want us to bring?

Jim: Oh, nothing — just yourselves and the kids.

Bob: It’s been ages since I had a good burger. Nancy’s been on a health kick….

Jim: We’re not having burgers, sorry, Bob. I have something special planned.

Bob: What?

Jim: Squabs.

Bob: Beg pardon?

Jim: Stuffed with gizzards.

Bob: I don’t think Nancy would….gizzards?

Jim: Yeah — one of the bird’s stomachs that’s used to grind up their food. Dinosaurs had them. Alligators have them too. Earthworms. Some fish.

Bob: I think you’re mistaken, mate. Oh, I get it. You’re going to cook burgers and we’re going to drink beers and watch Eddie Izzard  on YouTube.

Jim: Eddie Izzard?

Bob: Yeah, that comedian who dresses up as a woman. Runs marathons. Death Star Canteen. “I’ll have the penne alla arrabiata.”

Jim: You’ve lost me, mate. I’m serving squabs.

Bob: Nah, nah, I know what you’re up to. “Squabs”! Hilarious. “Tea or cake and death?, tea and cake or death?”

Jim: Are you feeling alright?

Bob: The kids know those skits by heart. Not really appropriate, some of it, but what can you do? Funny as hell.  A bit like you, Jim.

Jim: The recipe’s called “Surprised Squab.”

Bob: I’m sure it is. Of course it is.

Jim: It says “Serve it on the patio, where your guests can feel more free about wresting the succulent meat from this bird’s multitude of tiny bones.” Says it right here.

Bob: Wait till I tell Nancy.

Jim: “Serve 1 juicy squab per person.” Look — here.

Bob: Whatever you say, Jim. See you at sixish? I’ll bring ketchup — you know how the kids go through it like there’s no tomorrow.

Barbecue Cook Book, Lane Magazine & Book Company, 1967

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Got company coming over? A ladies luncheon or coffee morning? Or a date with your mother-in-law? Perhaps you’ve invited the new neighbors over to introduce yourself.

Should you be compelled to entertain, but find that for whatever reason, you just don’t give a f*ck, then this is the perfect thing to serve. It says “I went to the trouble, but didn’t trouble myself too much.” It’s semi-homemade in a way that signals you’re a busy woman who wants to keep up appearances, but hasn’t got time to appear to keep them up. A dessert such as this acknowledges that you like tradition in the kitchen and fashion in the dining room. It says “I understand the fundamentals but like to throw them together according to my mood.”

Whatever message it sends, it’s sure to please the unfortunates among your crowd who will feel encouraged to gorge now and purge later, or perhaps to decline to indulge themselves at all in order to maintain their figures. You can go ahead and give it a fancy French name. No-one will know what it means. 

Dessert Cook Book, Better Homes and Gardens, 1960

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Burnt Flour Soup

Horatio:            My Lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.

Hamlet:             I prithee do not mock me, fellow student, I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.

Horatio:            Indeed, my Lord, it followed hard upon.

Hamlet:            Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 2

When Hamlet sardonically remarks that “thrift” is the reason for his mother’s hasty marriage, he uses it in the modern sense — meaning to be frugal, or thrifty. But 300 years before Shakespeare used it, thrift meant a fact or condition of thriving; to thrive. It also meant prosperity; to have something set aside for lean times. Thence it came to mean economy. Hence the turn, from one thing to its opposite. 

This is just what has happened to the royal house of Denmark. With King Hamlet on the throne, the nation thrived — but slain, replaced by his brother, the country ceases to be healthy. The word with which many of Shakespeare’s audience would have been familiar was thriven.

What they would not have served at the funeral or wedding was burnt flour soup, which is basically glue with cheese, buoyed up with stale bread. It is truly a desperate meal, that goes beyond simply being thrifty, but hobbling together whatever you can to survive.

The Thrift Cook Book, Marion Harris Neil, 1919

Also from this book: Getting Ahead Vegetarian MeatWalkie-Talkies

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh, Cryppys

Now that the skeleton of the last Plantagenet King, Richard III, has been located (beneath a car park in Leicester), we can ponder what he ate for his last meal.

It was probably breakfast. He had a long day ahead, what with having to do battle and all. In 1485, you weren’t excused from the gory part of ruling just because you were the King. There was no “get out of battle free” card just because you had numbers after your name. And to make matters worse, as the King, you were a rather obvious mark, especially when you had to wear a special target on your head (a circlet — a small crown) so that the enemy could identify you more easily.

Perhaps he was feeling a tad nervous and had an anxious tummy. Chances are he had a nice plate of cryppys to fortify him for the task ahead. People had been eating cryppys for a long time. Richard III wanted to continue to eat cryppys for a long time yet.

Sadly, for Richard III, he got the cryppys beat out of him on Bosworth Field. Specifically, he had the back of his head hacked off. Clearly, Henry Tudor didn’t want to waffle about. The House of Plantagenet may have been left in the dust, but the International House of Pancakes carried on, so that we can all enjoy eating some cryppys in the morning.

This recipe is from a book compiled in 1390, nearly 100 years before Richard III died.

The Forme Of Cury, 1390

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Salami Bouquet

Before there was the KFC Bucket, there was the Salami Bouquet.

For people who like a little charcuterie in their floral arrangements.

An eye-catching tower of lettuce studded with cured meat “roses” with pretty olive centers forms the centerpiece on a platter of attractively sliced deli offerings. Bread slices sprinkled with chopped parsley extra.

Meat Cook Book, Better Homes and Gardens, 1965

Also from this book: Coup de GraceBeware the Franks
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