Wednesday, August 14, 2013

American Food in London, 1939.

The London department store called Selfridges opened in 1909. The store has an American heritage, so it is not surprising that a decision was made to feature American foodstuffs. In June 1939, Selfridges ran the following advertisement in The Times.

By Calisthenes

Many a time, having looked over the list of our American Groceries, we have felt for these departments a kinship with Brillat Savarin. Whether one considers the list carefully, or turns over its pages in desultory fashion, there is always something unusual, quite different in these biscuits and beans, fruits and preserves, syrups and vegetables from across the Atlantic. The very names are appetizing, openingup to the uninitiated a vista of future gastronomic delights. Corn Popper and Candied Yams, Blueberries in Syrup and Hominy, Melon Mangoes and Succotash  – they seem to stir the imagination and titillate the least susceptible of salivary glands! And what of Brandied Peaches, or those tins of biscuits known as Koeppens Snappies, or Duff’s Devil’s Food Mixture, a packet flour famed in American kitchens? To run through the list is an appetizing adventure.
Visits to the States have familiarised great numbers of our people with many of these American and Canadian food specialties. American families either resident or visitors in London have brought with them their national tastes. So, our Food Department in Orchard Street has been built into and become the recognised centre for everything that can possibly be grouped under the heading of “American Foods.” Although the section allocated to these specialties is particularly large, we are always prepared to add to it such items as may be suggested and which are not included in the list today.
It is clearly impossible within the limits of our space to extract from our list, which we believe to be the most complete in Europe, more than these few items. We stock all of the usual articles and here are some that are unusual.

Fig and Bran                                       Hominy Grits
Corn Kix

Maple Pecan                                        Prezelettes
Macaroon Snow                                  Slim Jane
Saltines                                                Fig Newtons
                                                            Dutchess Partisnax

Apricado                                             Papaya
Carrot Juice                                         Guava Nectar
Banana Nectar

Brandied Peaches                               Spiced Watermelon
Stuffed Oranges                                                         Rind   
in Grenadine                           Skinless Figs
Mangoes in Rum

Shad Roe                                                        Tuna Fish

And preserved meats, sauces, canned and bottled vegetables and sundries in most tempting variety. Our complete list will be sent, with pleasure, to any reader.

I would be interested to know if this list brings back any food memories for you.

As for the recipe for the day, I give you an idea for using Stuffed Oranges in Grenadine, should you be able to source them. The recipe appears in the Eugene Register-Guard of December 22, immediately following a recipe for “Christmas Candle Salad” – a rather alarming-sounding concoction consisting of banana “candles” standing upright in pineapple rings, which was sure to “delight small folks and at least interest the grown-ups.” The text went on to say:

“Another attractive salad, which is more expensive uses stuffed oranges preserved in grenadine syrup. Since it is very easy to make it may appeal to the busy woman who cooks in a kitchenette."

Christmas Salad.
Four slices stuffed orange, eight heart leaves of head lettuce, whipped cream salad dressing, 4 green cherries.

Arrange two leaves of lettuce for each salad and put a slice of orange in the center. Drop one tablespoon salad dressing on each slice of fruit and top with a cherry. Green grapes can be used in place of the cherries if more convenient. You can buy the preserved oranges at any fancy grocery.


korenni said...

So interesting to think that Kix, one of my favorite cereals as a child, has been around that long! -- and is still being sold.

The "candle salad" was apparently pretty popular in the 1930s-1950s; it's in a number of the old cookbooklets I have from those years. It's always given as a dish for children and frequently has a maraschino cherry fixed to the top for the "flame." I expect the banana would have had to be pretty short to stay upright!

I had no luck finding stuffed oranges in grenadine online. Anyone else? I wonder what they were stuffed with? Oranges in grenadine sounds pretty tasty to me, and I did find several recipes for them.

Shay said...

Yes, Kix is still with us (as are saltines and Fig Newtons).

I have recipes for candle salads in multiple cookbooks from the between-the-wars period. I also have one postwar cookbook with a dozen recipes for vegetables and fruits tortured into the shapes of tulips, lilies of the valley, etc.

Food that looked like something else was popular for a long time, for some unknown reason. There's a dessert that calls for gelatin, milk and canned apricot halves put together so that the result looks like a fried egg.

Why any sane person would do this I cannot say.