In the first decades of the twentieth century, the world was getting excited about the potential of cold storage of food, and delegates at the third International Congress of Refrigeration held in Chicago in 1913 convincingly ‘walked the talk’ at the closing banquet.
The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of September 23 reported on the novel occasion:
Cold Storage Banquet.
The Delegates to the Refrigeration Congress Will Partake of Antique Edibles.
Chicago. Sept. 23. Delegates from all parts of the world who for a week have attended the daily sessions of the six sections of the third international congress of refrigeration concluded their consideration of technical subjects today and prepared to formally adjourn tomorrow after one of the most successful meeting of its kind ever held.
Tonight a novel “cold storage” banquet will be served to the 500 foreign visitors, every article on the menu having been on ice for at least six months and in some instances longer. As each dish is served its certified history as indicated by the United Stated department of agriculture will be handed to the diners.
Among the articles of food on the bill of fare are: Albicore steak, caught in the Atlantic ocean seven months ago; Columbia river salmon, a year old: Tennessee turkey, nine months old; Kansas chicken, eleven months old; beef, two years old; eggs, eighteen months old.
I hope some of you with local knowledge will enlighten me on the chosen origin of the major ingredients. I understand the choice of Columbia River salmon, but is (was?) Tennessee famous for its turkey? Kansas for its chickens?
I was delighted to find several recipes for cooking turkey (in an alarming ‘from scratch style’) in How we cook in Tennessee ... Compiled by The Silver Thimble Society of the First Baptist Church, Jackson, Tennesee (1906,) and share them with you here.
Chose a plump turkey of nine or ten pounds. Pick it without scalding, removing each feather carefully; then pour over it boiling water to plump it, after which singe with a piece of lighted writing paper, so that no particle of down remains. Wash thoroughly inside and out, wipe dry, rub with salt, and let remain overnight or longer. When ready to cook, rinse thoroughly and rub inside and out with salt and pepper. Place on the rack in a covered baking pain, and add some hot water. Rub the outsides of the turkey with lard to prevent blistering.
Equal parts of biscuit crumbs and egg bread mixed, using a little lard, pepper, salt and onion to taste, with just enough water to moisten.
Some fine day you will watch the movie Sergeant York, a wonderful old black-and-white with Gary Cooper, and you will know all you need to know about turkeys and Tennessee!
Meanwhile, I will just say that wild turkeys are still relatively plentiful in eastern Tennessee, although they must be pretty tough. I wonder what the benefit was of plucking so carefully without singeing first? Would it have been more likely to keep the skin intact so that the tiny amount of fat on the bird would stay where it was?
hard to imagine that cold storage was a new-fangled idea huh? It seems like every single home nowadays has some sortof climate-control option for their food in the form of a refrigerator.
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