Thursday, April 08, 2010

Emergency Food, Part 2.

Food emergencies, which we considered yesterday, are not always due to large-scale meteorological, geological, or military events. A less newsworthy but far more common - and possibly even greater panic-inducing set of circumstances - is caused by unexpected visitors.

Unexpected visitors always arrive around mealtime, with the clear and present expectation of being fed pretty soon. The timing is always at the end of the shopping week, when supplies are low - and it has usually been a particularly bad week for a multitude of reasons. Maybe the kids all had the flu, or the man of the house got fired, or the dog ate the laundry? The fridge (well-overdue for a clean-out) is spectacularly empty of anything edible-looking, never mind appetizing.

What is the housewife to do? (it is always the ‘housewife’ in these stories.) A good and clever housewife would be prepared better than the best boy scout. She would have a secret stash of canned food and a canny knowledge of how to disguise their origins and dress them up in a style fit for company, that’s what. She would have learned how from her good and clever mother, or from a book such as the Arizona Cook Book, by the Williams Public Library Association (1911.)

This nice book contains many meal ideas, including several ‘emergency menus’ prepared from canned food. Here is my pick of the menus, followed by a recipe for an ‘economical and good emergency soup’, also from the book. The Arizona ladies who contributed the ideas are credited in each instance. Perhaps readers in Arizona might know some of the families? Wouldn’t that be fun?

Emergency Menu of Canned Foods.
Puree of Peas.
Creamed Lobster in Patty Cases.
Lamb’s Tongue stewed with
Boiled Rice and Pimentos.
Buttered Mushrooms.
Vienna Rolls.
Asparagus Salad.
Melted Cheese on Wafers.
Pineapple or Canned Peach Whips.
Mrs. T.S. Maddock,
Williams, Ariz.

Italian Tomato Soup.
This is one of the most delicious soups I have ever eaten, and I have never seen this recipe in print. It is a very economical and good emergency soup, as it can be prepared in half an hour. One onion fried in butter (do not let it brown), two cans of tomatoes and one quart of water. Add the onion to the tomatoes and let it boil twenty minutes. Strain through a colander, set back on stove, and add one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in hot water, one dozen cloves, salt and sugar to taste. Let boil five minutes, then add one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Mrs. McLarty, Manistee, Mich.

Quotation for the Day.

"'Canned food is a perversion,' Ignatius said. 'I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.'"
John Kennedy Toole (‘A Confederacy of Dunces’)


Anonymous said...

Hello & thank you for such an entertaining blog. I am a recent visitor, so don't know if you have ever discussed this, but what is with pimentos? (as in the Lamb's Tongue dish) I have several old cookbooks and have noted quite a few of the recipes contain pimento. Are they or were they prevalent by themselves, what exactly are they? I don't really see them as adding any flavor....

Best regards,Hanz

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Hanz. Sorry for the slow response but I have had computer problems.
I dont know where you live (I am in Australia), but "pimentos" (An American term) are capsicums/bell peppers.

Shay said...

I am wondering if the tomato soup lady came from Manistee...I am from Michigan and have never heard of a town called Manister.

(on a completely unrelated note, tinned lamb's tongues...eecch).

The Old Foodie said...

Yes Shay - I just checked the book; my typo I am afraid. Nothing like a bit of local knowledge, is there? Thanks for picking it up!