Tuesday, February 12, 2008

someone actually ate suffered this for dinner

As mentioned in last night's preview post, this is a scan from an actual book. A book I paid money for (I'm geeky like that). It's a super old (1935) more than well-used manual for housewives entitled Homemaker's Handbook, written by Dorothy Myerson and published by McGraw-Hill (Whittlesey House is the imprint, I think). It's a treasure trove of outdated housewifery, from tips on what to feed children during a birthday party (preview, today's hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza wouldn't fly--too taxing on a young'un's  digestive system), to sample schedules for hired help, to recipes for every sort of food. These recipes harken back to a time when a single cocktail could land you in the hospital for alcohol poisoning, children didn't speak until spoken to, and gelatin wasn't just for dessert.

On that last point: this book is laden with recipes for aspics and other gelatinous dinner dishes. I couldn't quite tell you when molded dinners fell out of vogue, but I'm more than happy to say that I've never had one. Still, the recipe above fascinates. It is a sort of chicken meat loaf, composed of chopped chicken set into chicken stock Jell-o. Now close your eyes. Imagine your mother is calling you to dinner, and that is what she is serving.

Probably someone will come in and say "oh, well that's what you'd be used to" or "don't knock it until you try it" or "tastes change" or my personal favorite (and one my mother pulled lots of times), "if you're hungry enough, you'll eat it". Yup, I agree with all of those statements. But as a modern reader, that loaf sounds downright disgusting. Would you eat it?

Later this week I'll post some yummy sounding chicken recipes I'd make for NH (I don't eat chicken) instead. In the mean time, for some more questionable recipe fun check out the Gallery of Regrettable Foods. Also, since they're packed with recipes that aren't quite to many reader's tastes, old cookbooks can be had on the cheap from used book stores, and are loaded with kitschy charm.

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