From Root to Table: Raw Foods in the Early 20th Century

This week, we’re featuring Uncooked Foods & How to Use Them: A Treatise on How to Get the Highest Form of Animal Energy from Food: With Recipes for Preparation, Healthful Combinations and Menus by Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Christian. This particular volume is a recent addition to Special Collections. Published in 1904, it’s actually the 5th edition, so this husband and wife team seemed to be on a roll…

Eugene Christian was the more prolific of the pair, authoring a variety of books on food, diet, nutrition, and health in general between 1900-1930. His wife co-authored a several books with him, however. Uncooked Foods & How to Use Them features a little bit of everything: directions on how and what to eat, how to prepare foods (very little!), sample recipes, sample meal plans, and some about why the idea of eating raw foods was important to the authors. For Special Collections, this piece is a great new addition. While we have a number of volumes on vegetarianism in the 19th and 20th centuries, this is the first book we have on raw foods and the raw foods movement. (Now, we’ll be on the lookout for more!)

You’ll notice that there are a few cooked/prepared foods in the book, though they seem to be carefully chosen and few and far between. The section on soup, for example, is prefaced by the statement that: “We give here a few recipes for soups only because the soup habit is so firmly fixed in the mind of the housewife and the epicure that they can hardly conceive of a decent dinner without them. All soups may be warmed sufficiently to serve hot without cooking.” All but one of the few meat or fish dishes are smoked or dried. The others are all raw, including a beef tartare recipe.

So whether you’re hankering for egg-nog with fruit juice, raw carrot and turnips with (or without) salad dressing, or prune pie, this book could be for you. You’ll just have to come by and see. Until then, happy eating!

Fruits, Veggies, Milk, Meats, Wheats, and Something Sweet

Some of the books in the Ann Hertzler Children’s Cookbook and Nutrition Literature Collection are stories, some are full of basic and simple recipes. Other items, like those we’re featuring this week, are about education. Jane Dale’s series of five books each focus on a key food group, contain lots of black and white photos, and are written in a simple, explanatory way. All five books were published around 1940 by the Artists and Writers Guild (Poughkeepsie, NY). They make heavy use of news outlet and USDA photographs.

The series consists of:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Their Kinds and Uses
  • Meat: Flesh Foods from Farm, Range, and Sea
  • Milk, Our First Food
  • Sugar: Sweetening Foods from Many Plants
  • Wheat for My Bread

Each book includes background on the food group and specific foods within the group. There is information about processes involved in getting foods from their original source to the table, too. The volume on wheat talks about planting and harvesting techniques, while the book on fruits and vegetables talks about farming and growing plants. Other volumes contain details on food technologies and processing: the book on meat has information about fishermen making nets and even skinning cattle at the stockyards; the book on sugar has details on how sugar cane is processed in a factory.

While some of the details may seem a bit–graphic (do we really want to SEE someone checking the viscera of sheep for disease?)–the history and facts Dale includes are wide-ranging  and educational. Which is really the point, it seems. The series represented an opportunity to teach children about the foods they need to grow.

We were lucky enough to acquire these books as a set in April of this year. Although a number of other public and academic libraries have some holdings, we appear to be the only one with a full set. So, if you want to know what equipment might be in a small, local creamery or what a boat full of 40,000 sardines looks like, we might just be able to help.

“An Ideal Home”: A Scrapbook Guide to Setting Up Roots

Last December, we found a catalog description that intrigued us. When the item arrived, it was better than we imagined. A scrapbook filled with cut out images from newspapers and magazines, depicting everything you might need to get started as a new homemaker.

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This scrapbook, wonderful as it is, reflects one of the challenges for archivists. Sometimes, when we acquire an item or a collection, it’s obvious. We know the who, what, where, why, and when of it. Sometimes we think we know, discover we’re wrong, and find out something new. And other times, we get, well, a scrapbook like this.

As you may notice, the images in the gallery do not indicate anything about identity. Unfortunately, neither do any of the other pages. There’s no name of the compiler, who took the time to find and place the clipped items, no name of the person who came up with the lists and prices, and no name any owner. Without a clue to the creator, we’re left with the other questions of “why?” and “when?” This item may very well have been a gift to a new bride, a scrapbook full of advice about setting up a household for the first time. Alternatively, it may have been a school project, perhaps a home economics assignment for a student. Not all mysteries can be solved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t glean a few interesting facts or lessons from the scrapbook, either (though sadly, you won’t be able to buy a house and fill it for $12,500 today!):

  • Kitchen appliances and items never go out of style. (Well, they might go out of style, but whether it’s avocado green or stainless steel, you still need a refrigerator these days, as well as pots and pans and knives.)
  • Organized closets make it much easier to find things.
  • It never hurts to be over-prepared for the cocktail hour.
  • Plan your menu, especially if you’re having company.

We hope to be posting the whole scrapbook for online viewing in the near future, as we’re experimenting with some new software. (Currently, you can view the finding aid here.) Once it’s all set, we’ll be sure to post an update! Or, come by and see it in person!

Dietary Computing in 1902

This week’s feature is about computing nutrition and dietary information by hand. And if you’re like me with math, thankfully, the calculating is already done for you!

The full title of this work, in typical lengthy style, is: The Dietary Computer. Explanatory Pamphlet; the Pamphlet Containing Tables of Food Composition, Lists of Prices, Weights, and Measures, Selected Recipes for the Slips, Directions for Using the Same. We are particularly pleased to have a first edition of this set. Although we often talk about our Rare Book Collection, it’s fair to say that not every publication in Special Collections is one of only 1,000.  Published in 1902, the authors describe it in a number of ways:

The aim of this little pamphlet is to familiarize settlement workers and progressive housewives with a few fundamental principles used in making out bills of fare according to food values…[a] concentrated essence of something more delicate, to be used with judgment and discretion as a wire fence to guide the learner to better sources…[t]his is no new cookbook, it is only a bald statement of a few facts to help those who really wish to learn…

It isn’t a cookbook per se, but it does have recipes, and a quite a range of them. Everything from soups and vegetables, meat and fish dishes, and savory breads and puddings. However, the focus is on economics–how to get the best nutritional value for your buck, as it were. The book itself contains tables devoted to foods constant in the diet, food values by calorie, cost of 1,000 calories of various recipes, the “cost of 100 grams of nitrogenous substance,” and composition of food materials Table V includes the actual recipes.

A supplement, Methods in Household Economics, consists of price lists and meal planning charts. Although blank price lists are provided, there is also a set of lists for Boston prices (presumably for comparison purposes). So, if you’re wondering about the average cost for moose (35¢/pound) and other meats or fish, as well as  a head of cauliflower in July (40¢) or other vegetables, we can help! Just don’t be disappointed when you realize how much prices have changes…

Be sure to check back with us for some more nutrition-oriented features in the future. And until then, keep on computing!

Sandwiches, Part 2: Return of Frosted Sandwich

Sometimes there is a food so odd, so unique, and oft-times unsettling, it creeps back up when you least expect it. And just to keep you on your toes, it changes ever so slightly. Lately, it seems to be the “frosted sandwich” (see its first appearance here). To be fair, 500 Tasty Sandwiches, edited by the director of the Culinary Arts Institute during the 1940s and 1950s, Ruth Berolzheimer, includes so much more than the merely frosted. This 1941 gem contains sandwiches that were frosted, toasted, grilled, baked, fried, filled, rolled, cut, shaped, and layered in some very creative ways.

The book also contains recipes for fancy breads, fillings, and spreads, all with an emphasis on both economy and entertaining: “Dainty colorful sandwiches such as these guarantee the success of any tea or bridge party” (26). Of course, this includes suggestions like “egg and catchup,” “peanut-butter and pickle,” and “salmon and nut.” Then there are the complex patterns and shapes to be admired: the checkerboard, the gangplank, and the treasure chest, the last of which is essentially a hollowed bread loaf refilled with sandwiches made from the center slices, then covered with the top. While modern taste buds may not like the choice of fillings, the loaf or treasure chest style does lend itself to a certain portability for picnics, travel, and feeding crowds.

It’s when we get to frosting these sandwiches (with cream cheese, rather than the whipped mayonnaise we’ve seen previously) that things start to go wrong. Besides whole frosted loaves, 500 Tasty Sandwiches brings us something new: individual sized servings. Frosted to look like cakes rounds. Or rectangles.

 And the shapes don’t end there! This cookbook provides with plenty of interesting examples of structural ingenuity, as the pyramid and skyscraper recipes above indicate. It’s the ultimate opportunity to play with your food and to get creative. There are endless combinations of fillings and layers, begging to be tried…you just may not want to eat it when you’re finished…

On a final note, this publication is part of a larger set by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc., so we shouldn’t be entirely surprised by its contents. The series includes such Special Collections favorites (a few of which have appeared on our blog before!) as:

  • 500 Delicious Salads, 1940
  • 300 Ways to Serve Eggs from Appetizers to Zabaglione, 1940
  • The Wartime Cook Book: 500 Recipes, Victory Substitutes and Economical Suggestions for Wartime Needs, 1942 (an interesting comparison to this publication, which was likely published just before the war began–availability changed quickly!)
  • 250 Ways to Serve Fresh Vegetables, 1950
  • 300 Healthful Dairy Dishes, 1952

…and the list goes on. Don’t believe me? Visit the library’s catalog, Addison, and search “Berolzheimer, Ruth” as author. You’ll be amazed (and amused) to see a range of titles and editions! Plus, you’ll likely see more of them here–we have far too much food history to share!

Recipes with a Dash of Hospitality

This week’s post includes a lot of recipes with canned or jarred goods, interesting color images, and a smattering of history. From Curtice Brothers Co. in Rochester, NY, the 1916 A Pictorial History of Hospitality with a Few Suggestions for Recipes contains illustrations of hospitality from different cultures throughout history.

There is a forward to the cookbook (not pictured) that includes a few statements worth sharing:

One always finds a fascination in history, be it the tale of a folk or the story of a food. In the world of foods Curtice Brothers Co., has a definite place…

…this booklet…will be found useful by helping to make the housewife’s daily routine less burdensome.

Pictorially portraying as it does by dainty illustrations (which are historically correct),–the history of, and changes in Hospitality,–this book will no doubt prove of added interest.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just as the pamphlet does: our food has a story. Every ingredient and every recipe. They aren’t always the most exciting stories, but stories nonetheless. A Pictorial History of Hospitality with a Few Suggestions for Recipes reminds us that related aspects of food culture all have stories, too.

One of the emerging themes of the History of Food & Drink Collection is the idea of efficiency and ease of food preparation. Along with the recipes, you’ll see meal planning hints and menu suggestions. The very fact that the company produced primarily canned and preserved food was one step in that process.

Lastly, this small publication introduces a topic that we have not spent much time talking about just yet: hospitality. We’ve talked about meal planning for dinners from the simple to the formal, table settings and decor, entertaining, and cocktails and canapes, but the concept of hospitality is closely tied to all these things. It is a motivating factor behind much of cooking and baking, as well as authoring household manuals and cookbooks. It’s the common social act of offering something to a guest who drops by or having something ready when you know company is coming. And it’s an easy excuse to splurge on the good wine and cheese.

As the illustrations above remind us, stereotypical as they may be, hospitality has roots at least as deep as our food’s history…so expect to see more about it in the future.

Catsup…or is it Ketchup?

Earlier this week, some of the folks at NPR had a post on “katchop,” made from ground anchovies. While their post has gone missing over the course of the week, it has continued to roll around in this archivist’s brain as inspiration. We have not talked yet much about sauces, or catsups/ketchups in particular. Which seems unfair to a condiment that has such a rich and complex history in food. Even in the modern age, we can’t agree on a single spelling!

Many of the historical cookbooks in our collection have one or more recipes for some variation of catsup/ketchup. More often that not, the recipes are included in sections on preservation and pickling. Ah, our old friend, pickling, has plenty more tricks!

Today, catsup/ketchup brings certain specific images to mind: bright red color, salty tang of tomato, fighting with a butter knife so the glass bottle will give up its goods. Here in America, with grilling season just getting started, it means hot dogs and hamburgers. And it goes perfect with fries. But, from a historical perspective, this delectable sauce has come a LONG way. It might just surprise you…

Richard Briggs’ The New Art of Cookery according to the present practice : being a complete guide to all housekeepers, on a plan entirely new : consisting of thirty-eight chapters … : with bills of fare for every month in the year, neatly and correctly printed, besides being another of those wonderfully long titles, comes from 1798. While this certainly is not the earlier receipt for ketchup, it is among the earliest  in our collection. Most important to note, there’s not a tomato in sight. Early catsups/ketchups were loosely defined as being liquors extracted from a food.

New Art of Cookery, 1798: Mushroom ketchup

In 1824, Mary Randolph’s The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook included a number of catsup recipes, which also appeared in the 1846 edition (below). First, there was oyster catsup. Basically, pounded, spiced, boiled oysters. This really wasn’t meant to be served as a condiment by itself, as we can see from Mrs. Randolph’s instructions. It was a way of adding  flavor and substance to other sauces. Although a gob of this on a hamburger might be an interesting culinary adventure!

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Oyster Catsup

Mary Randolph’s book does contain something familiar, though: tomato catsup at last! Still no hints on serving, but this is certainly the ancestor of our modern condiment.  It is something you could serve on a meat dish or spice up another sauce. Again, the idea is preservation of a food in a creative and usable form.

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Tomato Catsup

But Mrs. Randolph has at least one more catsup in her arsenal of recipes: walnut.  We have talked about pickled walnuts on the blog before. But why simply pickle them, when you can pickle them, juice them, and spice the extracted liquor! It probably adds a nice nutty, earthy flavor to sauces and cooking juices and meats or poultry.

The Virginia housewife : or, Methodical cook, 1846: Walnut Catsup

Later editions of The Williamsburg art of cookery; or, Accomplish’d gentlewoman’s companion: being a collection of upwards of five hundred of the most ancient & approv’d recipes in Virginia cookery … And also a table of favorite Williamsburg garden herbs, from the mid-1800;’s century reprinted Mary Randolph’s version of walnut catsup, too.

In some cases, we might wonder. why? Why did tomato catsup survive 170 years, when walnut, mushroom, and oyster versions didn’t? (Well, at least not in the same forms.) And then there are other cases why the “why” is not about survival, but why one might make something in the first place.

Enter Mrs. Beeton and her The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress … also sanitary, medical and legal memoranda with a history of the origin, properties, and use of all things connected with home life and comfort. The recipe below comes from the 1878 edition and should be left to speak for itself…

The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress … also sanitary, medical and legal memoranda with a history of the origin, properties, and use of all things connected with home life and comfort, 1878: Liver Ketchup

There isn’t much that can be said on the heels of a recipe like that, but it should give you something to think about if you’re grilling this summer. We talk a lot on the blog about how our food has a long history and that is always worth consideration. It never just appears on our plate. Tomato catsup/ketchup has had a couple hundred years of culinary history to develop to perfection. It stood on the backs of some predecessors and had the chance to learn from some failures.

And, hey, at least you are not dipping those fries in liver paste…