Sunday, March 19, 2017

Feminine Food: “Food That Looks Pretty” (1934)

Last week I gave you some ideas on how to “feed the brute,” 1930’s style. This week I am delighted to provide, from the same era, some alternatives for the more girly members of your family. The information, which I am sure you will find most informative and entertaining, comes from the same source – the scripts from Housekeepers’ Chat, a regular program from the United States Department of Agriculture Radio Service. Today’s story is from Monday, May 7, 1934.

Feminine Food.

                  A while ago — sometime in March, I believe — you and I had a chat about meals for men. Remember? We discussed what to put on the menu to suit the typically masculine taste. And we came to the conclusion that men generally prefer simple, hearty fare to dressy dishes, that they like old-time, substantial food to novelties or frills. For example, most men will choose corned "beef any time to dainty "bits like sweetbreads or squab. And we agreed that men generally liked roasted or broiled meats best, that they count on the old reliable Irish potato with meat, that they like plain, simple vegetables and salads, and that, if they have a sweet tooth, they will incline toward pie and ice cream rather than any other kind of dessert.

                  But when you're having just women in to a meal, that's quite another story. When you're entertaining the girls at a bridge luncheon, say, or when you're having the other wives in to a May-morning breakfast or a springtime tea, then you'll probably reverse many of these rules about menus for men. You know how we women are. When we're out by ourselves, our taste in the food line is usually very different from that which would please our husbands. Feminine inclinations generally are toward light, dainty food and away from calories. We enjoy the frills. We like food that looks pretty. And we like novelty dishes — new ways of cooking or serving.

                  Colorful fruits and vegetables appeal to us. That's one reason why tea rooms catering to women so often make a specialty of good-looking salads, vegetable plates, and fruit desserts. A successful restaurant in New York made a report on pies recently. The report said that mince and apple pies were most popular with men, but that lemon chiffon pies were the biggest sellers to women guests. Frills again, you see.

                  Men enjoy strong flavors and high seasoning. Women, on the other hand, often prefer the more delicate, subtle flavorings and seasoning. Men like onions and strong cheese and catsup and chili sauce and so on. Women prefer only a delicate trace of onion flavor generally; they'll usually choose milder cheese; and less of the highly seasoned sauces.

                  Quantity appeals to men. They like hearty food in generous amounts. Appearance and daintiness appeal to women. The time to plan your table decorations with the greatest care, the time to work out a pretty color scheme in the menu, and to exhibit your best china and linen — the time to pay the greatest attention to appearances, especially to the so-called "little touches," is when your guests are women . I heard someone say the other day that women wanted quality and men quantity in food. I shouldn't express it quite as strongly as that. But certainly women prefer small, perfect dishes, rather than large helpings. They would rather have a tiny chicken pattie, say, that was cooked to the queen's taste, than a large slice of roast beef or a big steak. The feminine eye and appetite will appreciate clever and dainty garnishing, and new and pretty ways of serving food.

                  Spring and early summer seem to be ideal seasons for feminine parties. You can feature the more delicate shades in your table decorations and in your menu. You have the delicate colors of the spring flowers as your guides. And you have the new tender garden fruits and vegetables for your menu. Spring flowers, new garden foods, new spring clothes — somehow they all go together.

                  A feminine company meal doesn't have to be expensive, either. The food nay be low in cost and you never need to serve large amounts. But everything on the menu must be delicious in flavor and attractive to look at.

                  Suppose now that we plan a May luncheon party, maybe for your bridge club, maybe for some other feminine occasion. This is a medium-priced menu with emphasis on delicate color and flavor.

                  Individual rice rings filled with cream salmon; New green peas; Cloverleaf rolls or tiny cheese baking powder biscuit served piping hot; Spring salad of garden greens or garden vegetables; for dessert, Rhubarb or strawberry tarts; Tea or coffee.

                  Just a word about making those rhubarb tarts. They're very simple. Some people like them made with a meringue over the top. Personally, I like just the rhubarb with no meringue. I like to see that delicious pink color suggesting springtime.

                  Well, bake your little pastry shells on the back of a muffin tin. Fill the shells with rhubarb sauce. You remember that when we spoke of making sauce we suggested dropping the diced rhubarb into a thick hot syrup and cooking gently until the rhubarb was tender. We also suggested that you could make sauce just by mixing the rhubarb with sugar and cooking. Always cook rhubarb gently so it will hold its shape. Never remove the skin. That gives the sauce its attractive color.

                  Some people like rhubarb tarts made spicy with the addition of nutmeg or even a bit of cinnamon. Other people like it cooked with a little orange or lemon peel. You suit yourself about that. Also suit your own taste about the meringue.

                  Once more — that menu: Individual rice rings served with creamed salmon; New green peas; Cloverleaf rolls or tiny hot cheese biscuit; Spring salad; Rhubarb tarts; Coffee or tea.

The recipes for the day come from the same era as the article above, but from the other side of the Atlantic. I give you the ideas for variation on a theme of rhubarb tart (including one topped with meringue) from a feature on seasonal rhubarb recipes which appeared in the Manchester Guardian of March 9, 1936.

Rhubarb in Season
Some Recipes

 …. Several varieties of rhubarb tart can be made, and these are a pleasant change from apple. Here is one. Line a pie-dish with short or puff pastry. Stew three or four sticks of rhubarb with very little water and some sugar until half-cooked. Beat together the yolks of two eggs and two tablespoonfuls of sugar, add the grated rind of half a lemon, and mix with the rhubarb. Put the mixture on the pastry and bake in a moderate oven until it is cooked. Whisk the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, fold lightly in two tablespoonfuls of castor sugar and pile it on the tart. Sprinkle more sugar on the top and put into a cool oven to set the meringue.
With Figs.

Rhubarb and figs are a good mixture. Choose the plump cooking figs usually sold on strings, and cut them into pieces. Cover a pie plate with pastry, put on it a layer of figs, then the rhubarb cut in pieces. Sprinkle liberally with sugar, add more figs, and cover with pastry. Bake for at least an hour, in a hot oven at first, then reducing the heat. Should the figs be at all hard, it is preferable to soak them in water overnight. Rhubarb and pear, rhubarb and pineapple, or rhubarb and banana can also be tried.

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