Friday, February 11, 2011

In Advance of Valentine’s Day.

It will be here on Monday, folks – that day of romance, sweethearts, kisses and gifts, or, if you are not a true believer, of crass commercialism, cheap chocolate, cheaper bubbles, and cheesy cards.
My gift to you for the day, given in advance to give you chance to use it for inspiration, is a wonderfully kitchy menu from the Café Bova, Boston, on Valentine’s Day 1912. The image of the menu I cannot give - it is too fuzzy, and if the resolution were any lower it would slide off the bottom of the page - so you will have to imagine the decoration of red hearts.


Consommé De L’Amour

A Plaice in your Heart

My Own Sweet Lamb

A Little Duck

You for my Sweetheart

Ice-simply adore You

I’m hungry for your sweet affection
So don’t leave me starving I pray
For the menu I’ve made a selection
Let me dine on the same every day.

The love-struck beau wishing to impress his sweetheart with this romantic meal had to dig relatively deep, for the time. The meal cost $2.00.

From Household Cookery Recipes (London, 1901), I give you a recipe for the fish course.

Fillets of Plaice with White Sauce.
1 medium-sized plaice.
1 teaspoon lemon juice.
¾ pint fish sauce.
Salt and pepper.
Wash and dry the plaice on a cloth, and remove the fillets carefully thus: Take a sharp knife and cut a clean cut right down the middle of the fish from head to tail; then raise the fillets from the bones, keeping the knife flat on the bone and taking long clean cuts (not jagging,
or the fish will be wasted) ; season the fillets and fold them into three, skin side inside, or they will unroll in the cooking ; place them on a buttered baking- tin, sprinkle the lemon over them, and cover closely with buttered paper. They should be kept quite white in the cooking.
Bake in a slow oven for from 7 to 15 minutes, according to the size; dish up nicely and coat over with the sauce. Decorate with red crumbs or chopped parsley.

Fish Sauce.
The bones of a plaice, sole or whiting.
1 oz. butter.
1 oz. flour.
1 small onion.
1 small bay leaf.
1 sprig parsley.
1 sprig thyme.
½ pint milk.
½ pint water.
1 small piece carrot.
1 small piece turnip.
1 small piece celery.
6 peppercorns.
Cut the head off the bones, wash and break them up, put them into a saucepan with the vegetables left in blocks, the herbs and spice ; season and pour over them the milk and water; simmer the stock slowly for 10 minutes ; strain ; dissolve the butter and cook the flour in it slowly for 3 or 4 minutes to make the sauce shiny, then off the fire, mix in the stock, stir to the boil and cook for 5 minutes ; strain the sauce.

Quotation for the Day.
I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.
Author Unknown


Judy said...

Janet have you seen this book? The Fireless Cook Book by Margaret J. Mitchell, copyright 1913. There is a free download in PDF at I thought of you as I was looking through it.

Marcheline said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you!