Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Cheesy Tale about Rattlesnakes.

Here in Queensland, Australia, we feel some affinity with Florida, USA. There is an ongoing friendly rivalry between our states as to which has the greatest number of sunny days and the highest incidence of skin cancer. I am not sure how or why that contest popped into my head in what was going to be a cheese-themed week. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that here in sunny Queensland we are having a cool wet spell which is most unseasonal and has made me put a pot of lentil and spinach soup on the stove (soup? In early March?) Or perhaps it is because I am reminded that today is Florida Admission Day - the day in 1845 that Florida became the 27th state in the USA.

The random series of thoughts put me in mind to give you some recipes from historical Florida cookbooks, of which, thanks to the ‘State University System of Florida PALMM Project’, there are a couple online.

Wait! I don’t need to abandon the cheese theme!

From Florida salads: a collection of dainty, wholesome salad recipes that will appeal to the most fastidious, Frances Barber Harris (1918) we have:

Cheese and Green Pea Salad.
Cut American cheese in tiny little blocks and mix with green peas which have been cooked and drained. Sprinkle with white pepper, lightly fold in mayonnaise and serve on lettuce.

Cheese and Nut Salad.
Mash American cream cheese with pimentoes and peanut butter. Form into balls and press between halves of blanched English walnut meats. Serve on lettuce leaf with mayonnaise.

From Canning in Florida (1944) – a decidedly non-cheesy but nevertheless irresistible bite of non-recipe information on a topic in which Queensland cannot compete:

Canned Rattlesnake.
A novelty for many years in the State’s canning industry is a plant at Rattlesnake, Florida, where rattlesnake meat is canned. From a small experiment in 1930 with an investment of $130, this business has grown into a substantial and profitable one with 1940 sales reaching 15,000 small cans, retailing at $1.25 per can. To this income was added that from profitable by-products: venom for medical laboratories, and skins for use in making such articles as shoes, belts, caps, purses and jackets. About 2,500 rattlers were used in the 1940 pack. Another source of income is from thousands of tourists annually, who pay admission to the plant to inspect the novel operation, and from the sale of souvenirs such as the vertebrae and rattles.
The canned meat is white and tender and is said to taste something like chicken-breast or quail. It brings fancy prices as a special dish in a number of hotels in America. The plant also produces “Snake Snacks,” smoked bits for hors d’oeuvres.
The process of canning rattlesnake meat is simple. The reptile is milked of its venom, then decapitated and the body hung up for 24 hours. It is then skinned and dressed and partially cooked, cut into small slices and a special sauce added, packed into cans, sealed and cooked again. It is marketed as “Genuine Diamond Rattlesnake Meat with Supreme Sauce.” A second cannery operates at Ocala.

Quotation for the Day.

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
Bertoldt Brecht

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It looks like they did an excellent job of using the whole snake, not just the meat. Not to mention taking good advantage of the tourist angle! :-) Sandra