Thursday, April 09, 2009

Breakfast at Sea.

Today, let us imagine we are back in those glorious (if you were rich) between-war years. It is the morning of April 9, 1927, and we are returning from our European holiday aboard the Red Star Line’s passenger steamship SS ‘Arabic’. We left Antwerp on April 1, are scheduled to arrive in New York on April 11 (but will not get in into the following day.)

It was a lovely evening, last evening, was it not? A fine dinner and some dancing with some fine fellow-guests. It is cool, this early morning somewhere in the Atlantic. We have had our early morning stroll around the deck. Now, the first big decision for the day. What to have for breakfast?

S.S Arabic          Saturday, April 9th 1927
Breakfast Menu.
Grape Fruit Compote of Figs Apples
Scotch Oatmeal Triscuits Grape-Nuts Shredded Wheat
Puffed Rice Force Corn Flakes
Fried River Sole Codfish Cakes
Minced Chicken Lamb Kidneys Maitre d’Hotel
Broiled Wiltshire Bacon Grilled Cumberland Ham
Fried. Boiled. Turned and Poached
Omelettes: Plain & Crevettes.
Potatoes Lord Byron
Roast Beef Ox tongue Bologna Sausage
Cheese: Gorgonzola, Edam & Canadian
White & Graham Rolls Toast Cottage Loaves
Sally Lunns Soda Scones
Buckwheat Griddle Cakes, Maple Syrup
Preserves      Marmalade
Coffee     Tea         Cocoa      Chocolate.

That meal was so good that I think we will lunch aboard SS ‘Arabic’ tomorrow.

What did you choose?

Two things intrigue me on this menu. A breakfast cereal called Force? As in ‘May the Force be with you’? A great name for a breakfast cereal. Anyone know what happened to it?

The second thing is the Potatoes Lord Byron. I think potatoes are an under-rated and under-used breakfast opportunity, and I am particularly intrigued by the name of this dish. Byron on one occasion (during one of his eating disorder episodes) disgusted his host by eschewing all the fine dishes put in front of him in favour of mashed up potatoes doused in vinegar.

There are several variations of the dish called Pommes Byron. Most start with a baked potato, and include butter, cream, and cheese – a far cry from the abomination created by Byron himself, and no doubt invented by a disgusted chef who felt that potatoes were destined for higher things.

Here is Escoffier’s recipe. It is a variation of Pommes Macaire, so I give this first.

Pommes Macaire
Bakes some Dutch potatoes in the oven. As soon as they are done, empty them and collect their pulp on a dish; season it with salt and pepper, and work it with a fork; adding to it, the while, 1 ½ oz butter per lb.
Spread this preparation in the form of a galette on the bottom of an omelette pan containing some very hot clarified butter, and brown it well on both sides.

Pommes de Terre Byron.
Prepare the amount of Pommes Macaire, and cook in butter in a small frying pan. Dish; sprinkle copiously with cream and grated cheese, and set to glaze quickly.

Quotation for the Day.

What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.


Jean said...

Force is mainly famous for its advertising jingle:

High o'er the fence leaps Sunny Jim;
Force is the food that raises him!

(There's Sunny Jim doll, too!

srhcb said...

Force :

Jamie said...

Fabulous and so interesting. Two thoughts : 1) nothing at all like the breakfast my poor immigrant relatives would have eaten shipboard and 2) hope whoever swallowed all of this down was not prone to sea-sickness :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Jean says about Force and can add that it was the wheat equivalent of the corn flake. I used to like them very much but haven't seen them for years. I always wanted one of the dolls but for some reason never owned one.

David Williams said...

Google "Force - Breakfast Cereal" then open up the Wikipeda page. Nice overview of the product, History etc.

The Old Foodie said...

So, I gather that the Force is no longer with us?

Monk said...

Yes it is! Bought 2 packets in Waitrose on Friday.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Monk! I wonder if it is the original formula?