I have been considering the history of bouillon cubes recently, to determine what role they will play in my forthcoming book Soup: A Global History. In my own growing-up life in the North of England, with my dear mother who hated cooking, there was only one player – the OXO cube.
The OXO company developed out of the nineteenth century Liebig Extract of Meat Company. The little foil-wrapped cubes that I remember from my childhood developed out of the liquid extract, but OXO had already indisputably been part of the British food tradition for many decades. The history of the company itself is worthy of a blog post, but today because of time constraints I want to go straight to an interesting recipe. It comes from a product advertisement during World War I, from a newspaper dated December 12, 1917. The ad urges the use of OXO ‘To make many inexpensive delicious dishes which will to a great extent take the place of a meat course, and help to save rations.’
Curried Mayonnaise of Vegetables.
Ingredients: Cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, spinach, carrots, onion (about 2 lb in all.) 2 teaspoonfuls of OXO, 2 oz. dripping, 1 dessertspoonful of curry powder, a small piece of butter, 1 teaspoonful of flour, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.
Cut all the vegetables into neat pieces, mix them together. Melt the dripping in a frying-pan and add the vegetables. Toss them about in the pan until they are thoroughly hot. Then dissolve the OXO in a little hot water, and mix with the curry powder, stir into the vegetables. Add a piece of butter and a dust of flour, and stir until all are well mixed. Season with salt and a sprinkle of lemon juice just before serving. Send to table with a dish of nicely boiled rice.
What intrigued me about this recipe (it was certainly no anticipated deliciousness!) was the name – ‘mayonnaise’ as a noun referring to a dish thickened with flour! Anyone else seen the word used this way?
Quotation for the Day …
Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.