Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Fourth, of Course.

Today, July 4th …

Today for your enjoyment, a selection of menus from three centuries of Independence Day celebrations:

The meal that legend says became traditional on July 4th for John and Abigail Adams in the 1770’s was quite simple, but elegant:

Green Turtle Soup
New England Salmon with Egg Sauce
New Potatoes Early Peas
Apple Pan Dowdy

It was rather more sumptuous fare when Ulysses S. Grant was banqueted by the Commissioners and Board of Finance of the Centennial Commission in 1873:

Consomme au Nid d’Hirondelles
Puree de Choux-fleur a la Reine
Old Amontillado Sherry

Petits Bouchees aux Queues d’Ecrivisses
Johannisberg Cabinet
Ruedesheimer Berg

Chapon Braisee a la Monte Christo
Filet de Boeuf a la Godared
Filet de Boeuf a la Belmont
Petits Pois Tomatoes farcies
Shoo-fly potatoes
Union League Cabinet
Louis Roederer, Carte Blanche
Geisler & Co., Dry Sillery.

Filets de Cannetons a la Rgence
Poulets en Supreme a la Toulouse
Pain de Gibier a la Charles XV.
Chateau Larose

Becasses roties, sur Canapee
Salade de Laitue de Tomates
Champagne frappe
Mumm’s extra dry

Corbeille de Fruits Corbeille de fleurs
Charlotte Parisienne
Chalets rustic a la Fairmount
Pyramid en Nougat Historic.
Grand Vin Chambertins.

Pudding Diplomate glacee

Cigars de Havanne

But it was very basic fare for the inmates of the National Home For Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Leavenworth Kansas in 1902.

Chicken Pot Pie
Creamed Potatoes.
New Beets

Bread Butter Pickles

English Plum Pudding

Assorted Cake Coffee

Today’s recipe choice is easy. Just look again at that extravagant banquet. Does the dish “shoo-fly potatoes” not seem out of place amongst the classic consommés, puréees, and bouchées?

It sounds awfully like French fries to me, but here is a recipe for them from “Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving. A Treatise Containing Practical Instructions in Cooking; in the Combination and Serving of Dishes; and in the Fashionable Modes of Entertaining at Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” (1878) by Mary Foote Henderson.

There is a machine which comes for the purpose of cutting shoo-fly potatoes; it costs two dollars and a half. The potatoes are cut into long strips like macaroni, excepting that the sides are square instead of round. They are thrown into boiling lard, sprinkled with salt as soon as done, and served as a vegetable alone, or as a garnish around meat.
Tomorrow: The poet of bran and pumpkins.
An Appeal ...
So far, this dish called "Shoo-Fly Potatoes" has proved elusive. "Shoo-Fly Pie" is well known, and apparently well-named - the molasses attracting the little critters like crazy - but Potatoes? And a machine to cut them? TOF would be most grateful for any clarification of this dish, or the machine.
Quotation for the Day ...
A man accustomed to American food and American domestic cookery would not starve to death suddenly in Europe, but I think he would gradually waste away, and eventually die. Mark Twain 'A Tramp Abroad'

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