April 14 ...
The Editor of The Cultivator – the journal of the New York Agricultural Society –made a ‘polite invitation’ to Farmers’ wives and daughters to furnish recipes for future publication in the issue of
The response must have been underwhelming, for in March, the Editor’s wife herself supplied a few recipes. This one is intriguing:
Mock Chicken Pie.
Boil common potatoes – season highly with salt and pepper; some prefer a little thyme or summer-savory. Pour milk over them, and stir till of a moderate paste; fill a pie dish with crust above and below the contents. Strew pieces of pork through it. Bake in an oven, and serve hot. A single crust, filled and doubled, is called tarn-overs.
My puzzle is this: why not call it Pork and Potato Pie?
I am moderately intrigued by the whole, old concept of Mock Food. There seem to be several reasons for counterfeiting food, but I am not sure which one applies here. The commonest reason is probably one of necessity – when a substitute must be found for either a more expensive or unavailable ingredient. Such counterfeit foods are common in times of scarcity: wartime ersatz coffee for example. Or carob for real chocolate, when there is a scarcity of common sense. This explanation surely does not apply in the above recipe? Down on the farm, when a pie is called for, a single family-size post-menopausal hen would be more easily available to substitute for a big porker than the reverse, wouldn’t it?
Deception is another reason. The family want chicken pie, but there is still some leftover roast from Sunday which must be used up? They say they hate pork but it was cheap this week at the market?
The other issue of importance is : was this pie intended to be served up as if it was chicken, with the truth not told?
The third reason for making mock food is for fun: meatloaf with slivered almonds stuck all over it and called hedgehog, for example. But there is nothing remotely hilarious about the mock-chicken pie, is there? Or am I am missing something?
It seems that this topic of mock food is worthy of pursuing this week, as we search for enlightenment. Your input is humbly requested.
Tomorrow’s Story …
Mock Food No. 2
Quotation for the Day …