Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Military (1943)

The quartermasters of the US military during World War II worked extremely hard to provide all soldiers, wherever they were, with a Thanksgiving dinner every bit as good as they could have hoped for back at home.

The New York Times of October 27, 1943 reported the plans for the day:

Thanksgiving Day Menu for Army.
The Thanksgiving Day menu for the Army consists of fruit cup, roast turkey with dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, buttered peas, corn, tomato and lettuce salad, celery, pickles, pumpkin pie, apples, grapes, candy, nuts, and coffee. The War Department, in announcing the menu today, said every effort would be made to provide these courses even in combat zones.

The Washington Post of November 15 in the same year reported on the plans for troops in Italy and North Africa.

Allied Headquarters, Algiers, Nov. 14. – United States Army quartermasters today promised turkey, cranberry sauce, real butter and pie to American troops in Italy, Sicily and North Africa for their Thanksgiving dinner. Only extraordinary battle conditions can interfere with the delivery” of feasts even to troops in in the front lines, it was added. The menu: chilled grapefruit juice, cream of tomato soup, roast Vermont turkey and nut dressing with giblet gravy, June peas, cranberry sauce, boiled fresh onions, candied fresh sweet potatoes, pineapple and cheese salad, mayonnaise dressing, sweet mixed pickle, hard candy, pumpkin or apple pie, bread, butter and coffee.

The dish that caught my eye in this menu was the Pineapple and Cheese Salad. Now, I love pineapple, and I love cheese, but I am not so sure about them in combination. It seems to be a particularly American combination – or am I mistaken? I determined to scour the newspapers and see if I could be tempted to the idea.

Pineapple and Cheese Salad
Cottage cheese balls rolled in chopped nuts, served on a slice of pineapple, make a delicious salad.
Farmers Bulletin, Issues 1451-1475 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1928)

Pineapple and Cheese Salad
Mix equal parts of mild cheese, chopped celery and chopped walnuts. Moisten with cream and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Roll into small balls and place on pineapple or pears.
Cookbook, by the Eureka American Legion Auxiliary (Eureka CA, 1920)

Pineapple and Cheese Salad.
On a crisp lettuce leaf lay one slice of canned pineapple. Fill center with freshly grated Tillamook or Eastern cheese. Add a spoonful of mayonnaise on top, dust with paprika, and serve.
Choice Recipes, by Order of the Eastern Star, (Sacramento, CA, 1920)

Pineapple and Cheese Salad.
Pineapple                  Lettuce
Cottage cheese          French dressing
Currant jelly.
Divide each ring of pineapple in segments, but keep in circular shape. Rub a cream cheese through a colander and full the hole in the pineapple. Drop a teaspoon of currant jelly on each mound of cheese. Garnish with lettuce, and serve with French dressing made with lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Frozen Pineapple and Cheese Salad.
Soften 1 tsp of granulated gelatine in 2 tbsp of cold water for 5 min, set over hot water, and stir till dissolved. Mash 2 - 3 oz packages of cream cheese and add 3 tbsp cooked salad dressing, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp paprika and 2 drops of Worcestershire sauce. Combine 1 c. crushed pineapple, drained of its juice, with the gelatine, and add to the cream cheese mixture. When thoroughly mixed fold in ½ c. cream whipped. Turn into a refrigerator tray and chill until set. Cut into squares and arrange 4 or 5 squares on each individual bed of lettuce. Garnish with French dressing and serve. Serves 10
[Note: this is chilled, not frozen!]
Good Housekeeping, Vol 92. Number 2, 1931

I did actually find the following Aussie version of the salad, in a Queensland newspaper – which is not surprising, I guess, given that we have a huge pineapple industry in this state.

Pineapple and Cheese Salad.
Ingredients: 1 small rough-skin pineapple, 2 or 3 oz. cream cheese, 2 tablespoons boiled dressing, savoury cream or mayonnaise, 3 gherkins, red pepper, lettuce leaves. Peel, core, and slice pineapple. Arrange crisp, green lettuce leaves on salad plate and place slices of pine apple in a ring with slices overlapping each other. In the middle of each pineapple slice arrange a spoonful of cream cheese and sprinkle with red pepper. Heap in the centre of the salad the mayonnaise or cream mixed with chopped gherkin. Garnish with sliced gherkin. If you have no cream cheese, grate up two ounces of matured cheese and moisten with cream.

Courier Mail 22 November 1940


Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

Cottage cheese and pineapple chunks is a combination I love - especially as a light lunch. Provides protein from the cottage cheese and that touch of sweetness from the pineapple. The combination has been around since at least the '50s.

Anonymous said...

You can go to the store at any time (well, not today, because it's a holiday) and buy little packages of cottage cheese with fruit, including pineapple.

Folded at Dawn said...

Re: pineapple and cheese. As a UK citizen I remember from my youth (in the late '70s and early '80s) that squares of cheddar cheese and chunks of tinned pineapple were served together on a cocktail stick at parties. It's possible such a 'delicacy' was a hangover from WW2 days.

Shay said...

The tradition lingers today in the American Midwest and South that anything made with Jello is technically a salad.

Shay said...

Adding a gruesome note to this -- in December 1944, American units were assembled at certain points along the Western front so that every GI could get a hot Christmas dinner delivered. The Germans, who had held that ground until recently, had all of the road crossings and other assembly areas pre-registered for artillery strikes, and used them, inflicting heavy casualties before the higher ups on the American side realized that a hot Christmas dinner perhaps wasn't an appropriate priority

Mercy said...

Cottage cheese with pineapple chunks in was joked about in Red Dwarf, so it seems to be a thing in the UK, too, at least by the 80s/early 90s.

Homask said...

This article sparked my memory of a special treat prepared by Mom when we were little kids. She's roll cream cheese into balls and place them in the hollow of canned, halved pears, served with their syrup. Although there were no other ingredients and the dish was ridiculously simple, it made a big impression on me being so "special" and absolutely delicious as well.