Oddities (take 2)


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Oddities (take 2)

Set 25, 2018, 9:50 am

I'd like to start a new thread on oddities (that is, cookbooks or food memoirs that you own but don't necessarily use), since the old thread https://www.librarything.com/topic/1531 petered out.
I have or at least used to have Venus in the Kitchen, mentioned in the old thread. I have How to Cook a Rogue Elephant, by Peter van Rensselaer Livingston, which is a combination of cookbook and memoir. And I have or used to have a cookbook and "survival guide" published by the Canadian government in the 60s, with recipes and suchlike, for life in the North-West and Yukon Territories. Fillet of seal, anyone? The weirdest bit about this one was that I bought it in the old Commonwealth Bookshop in Canberra, the book evidently having been acquired through some sort of deal between the two government publishers. I have actually eaten seal, but in Norway. It isn't wonderful. OTOH reindeer (eaten in Finland and Norway) is, as we used to say in Oz, good tucker.

Set 25, 2018, 9:57 pm

An old, odd favorite is Cooking Out of This World edited by Anne McCaffrey, which is a collection of recipes from science fiction writers. My copy is a mass market paperback from 1973, so it's in pretty sad shape. But I have cooked from it.

Nov 11, 2018, 1:58 am

Another odd cookbook I have is Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick. This is a collection of recipes written in the form of parodies of the styles of various writers. The actual Kafka's Soup is a recipe for miso soup. I've never cooked from it, but the recipes generally look workable.

Nov 12, 2018, 3:00 pm

A group of books that would fit the requirements of the OP would be the various food books by C. Louis Leipoldt. They are all maddeningly discursive, and although he tells how he or someone he knew made a dish and how he thought it should be served, almost any cookbook will give you a more easily followed recipe. That said, one should have the greatest respect for Dr Leipoldt, who started out as the son of a missionary in the outer reaches of the Western Cape (Clanwilliam dist.), and became a noted medic, Afrikaans poet, botanist, Cordon Bleu chef and friend of the Great and the Good.

Nov 13, 2018, 1:39 am

>2 PhaedraB: You mean this one: http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/?p=8276? I've added it to my Amazon basket. Also, I see that ISFDB has a list of the recipes, from which I discover that Mrs Moorcock's Famous Christmas Pudding (referred to by one of the Good Show Sir commenters) really is in there. It also has Old Prospector's Style Coffee (or, an Example of the Kind of Recipe I Personally Feel I can Do Without Just Fine), an essay by Avram Davidson, and Primative (sic) Chocolate Mousse (Also Known as Mousse au Chocolat, Chocolate Moose, Brown Mouse, and Please Sir I Want Some More) by Ursula K. Le Guin. The second one prompted a recollection of Sandra Boynton's Hippo Pot de Mousse, but I can't find a 'net source for the original image that isn't Facebook or Pinterest.

Nov 13, 2018, 1:52 am

To add a couple more that I have or have had, both of which are on LT from others: Countryman's Cooking, by W.M. W. Fowler; and Superpig, by Willie Rushton. The first is pretty much what it says on the tin, except that it has a couple of, shall we say, less common delicacies like rook pie. Rooks (the crow-sized black birds that congregate in flocks and are not crows) were apparently shot for food in former times. Fowler gives directions for telling a rook from a crow and warns you that mixing in a crow would not improve the flavour of the dish. Superpig is not really a cookbook, although it has some recipes; it is, as the subtitle says, a gentleman's guide to everyday survival (saved my sanity when I first found myself coping alone not long after it was published).

Nov 13, 2018, 1:57 am

Oh, and >4 hfglen: what a character! That man definitely lived a full life. Such of the books as are available in English seem to be quite expensive now too.

OK, I'll shut up now.

Nov 13, 2018, 8:42 pm

>5 haydninvienna: Yes, that's the one I have. It's pretty similar in condition, too!

Nov 14, 2018, 2:02 pm

>7 haydninvienna: he certainly did, and a very useful one (to the people around him).

If memory serves me well (I know I have it somewhere, but haven't seen it in yonks), Wild Ways with Cooking and its sequel would also fit the original requirement. I seem to recall one or other of them is about the only place where you can read up how to cook warthog.

Nov 17, 2018, 6:52 pm

>1 haydninvienna: your Canadian book must be Northern Cookbook by Eleanor A. Ellis. I have a copy that I bought from a charity shop in the genteel English spa town of Harrogate, and in my quest to use at least one recipe from every cookery book I own, I have cooked something from it - butterscotch bars though, not roast lynx or jellied moose nose.

Editado: Nov 19, 2018, 1:16 am

>10 Sovay: That's definitely it! I don't remember a recipe for jellied moose nose but it's evidently still around: https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/jellied-moose-nose and https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/moose-muffle-stew. Finding the book in Harrogate is even odder than finding it in Canberra.

>9 hfglen: I see that warthogs actually are pigs (Family Suidae). Did Dr Leipoldt guive any idea of how they taste?
(Edited to remove a superfluous word that crept in somehow)

Nov 18, 2018, 6:44 pm

>6 haydninvienna: I have quite a few rook recipes in various books, including one in Farmhouse Fare for what's called a Somerset Rook Pie but is in fact a steamed Rook Pudding - the rook filling is flavoured with bacon but the crust includes a generous quantity of currants and raisins and the dish is apparently "delicious served with gooseberry jelly". Can't say I'm eager to try it.

Nov 19, 2018, 1:17 am

>12 Sovay: Googling "rook pie" throws up quite a few recipes. Apparently it's fashionable again. I'm not keen either.

Nov 19, 2018, 3:49 pm

>11 haydninvienna: Can't answer for him, but from personal experience I can tell you that braaied (barbecued) warthog is among the best kinds of venison there is. Intermittently available -- at a premium -- in top-class butchers around here, or more freely if you know a hunter.

Editado: Nov 20, 2018, 11:28 am

>14 hfglen: Sounds delicious! I suppose, what with me being an Australian and all, I need to mention kangaroo about here. I've eaten kangaroo, buffalo (water buffalo, that is--feral in the Top End), emu and crocodile and all of them are pretty good. Kangaroo isn't normally barbecued though--too lean--but it's fairly regularly available in good supermarkets. The others are specialties, available only in restaurants as far as I know

Nov 23, 2018, 1:39 pm

>15 haydninvienna: Most venison is lean, surely? Standard practice here would be to marinate it for at least a day in oil and wine with a bit of this and that added, then baste liberally and often. Would that work with kangaroo? (Remembering that Australia makes some splendid red wines one would think ideal for the job.)

Nov 23, 2018, 2:57 pm

>16 hfglen: and Australian olive oil too. Olive oil in Australia used to come from feral trees left over from earlier attempts at establishing olive groves. But I think you’re right. It may be that the real reason kangaroo doesn’t get barbecued is that too many people who barbecue come from a background in which kangaroo meat is dog food. Those times are just about gone now.

Sigh. I’ve been eating pasta with my daughter and her boyfriend. Now I really, really want a nice glass of Rutherglen muscat. Look it up—one of the great dessert wines.

Editado: Nov 24, 2018, 1:23 pm

>17 haydninvienna: Interesting. Sounds closest to Vin de Constance that Napoleon liked well, and the KWV in their decidedly finite wisdom was an impossibility, and so forbade the attempt (though ours was unfortified but still hit 16-17% alcohol). Fortunately the mandarins were swept away with their government in 1994, and two estates in, yes, Constantia, are again making the brew, which they sell in tiny quantities at horrendous prices. The rest of us plebs enjoy our fortified hanepoot, made from Muscat d'Alexandrie grapes (white) and sold young. But yes, I too enjoy a drop of "antifreeze" on a cold winter's evening.

ETA: We also make olive oil, but for this job I'd look to sunflower, as I'd be using a whole bottle (750 ml) of the stuff -- it's about 1/8 the price.

Nov 29, 2018, 12:03 pm

>18 hfglen: It occurred to me that Durban, which I understand to be your place of abode, actually gets mentioned in How to Cook a Rogue Elephant (mentioned in #1). The author was in the US Army during WWII and 1942 found him on a British troopship sailing to Suez via the Cape. The ship put in at Durban to refuel and re-store and he made an unsuccessful investment on the turf there, as a result of which he found himself compelled to walk from the city centre to the dock. His route took him past the Durban Club, where the stewards were setting out afternoon tea. He "walked hopefully up the red carpet, jingling four and ninepence". He says that "words cannot express [his] gratitude for the subsequent three weeks of cheque-cashing and British colonial hospitality, and that the savour of South African beef, raised on the rich grass of the veldt, aged as it should be aged and grilled as it should be grilled, lingers on into [his] declining years". I'm quoting from memory but it's pretty close. I suspect that the "recollections" of Peter van Rensselaer Livingston may contain the odd tall story, but he clearly did have a good time in Durban.

But what's this reference to a "disgusting mushy fruit called pawpaw" which the ship re-stocked with? I know a fruit called pawpaw (Carica papaya), which when properly ripe is absolute nectar of the gods. They must have passed something else off on him and told him it was pawpaw.

Nov 29, 2018, 12:17 pm

Oh, and re Rutherglen muscat--a couple of years ago I had the good fortune to be in (domestic) business class on an evening Qantas flight between Sydney and Perth. After dinner the steward offered dessert wines, and there was a Rutherglen muscat among them. I inquired, he produced, and on 3 glasses of it the rest of the flight passed very calmly.

Nov 29, 2018, 12:52 pm

>19 haydninvienna: Ah yes. Evidently Mr Livingston was an American, and seeing the name "pawpaw" expected the fruits of Asiminia triloba, the flesh of which AFAIK is somewhat harder than what you and I call a pawpaw. I could well imagine that during the war a pawpaw on a navy ship would soon have become overripe, in which case it may well have been mushy, alcoholic and horrible. But I fully agree that a pawpaw as we know it at peak ripeness is indeed the nectar of the gods. Here in Durban the trees just happen, and hardly need any attention -- but the monkeys these days get the fruit long before we do.

>20 haydninvienna: By a curious coincidence I have a bottle of Namaqua White Muscadel open right now. It would be fun to offer you a glass.

Dez 5, 2018, 6:02 am

>21 hfglen: Definitely up for that. I find that I can get Vin de Constance through Amazon UK for just shy of £50 for a 500ml bottle. Same source quotes Campbell's Rutherglen Muscat NV at £28 for a 375ml.

In Brisbane where I grew up, it was much the same for pawpaws, except that the marauding wildlife was flying foxes, not monkeys.

Dez 5, 2018, 3:12 pm

Funny enough I was thinking of this thread this evening, and thought someone ought to mention the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, if only because it's the only source I know that has a straight-faced recipe for hash (aka marijuana) brownies. I don't have a copy, but was lent it by a friend some years ago.

Dez 6, 2018, 1:41 am

>23 hfglen: I've heard of it but never seen a copy. There must be a whole sub-sub-subgenre of "memoir with recipes", not written by professional cooks. How to Cook a Rogue Elephant fits it. And there is certainly a genre of cookbooks written by people who were famous for something else. I see that Toulouse-Lautrec wrote a cookbook. Dumas wrote a cookbook, or at least a book on food. Extending the scope a little, Kingsley Amis wrote a book On Drink. I wonder if Hemingway ever wrote a book on booze?

Dez 6, 2018, 10:10 am

I have a book called The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life by Angelo M. Pellegrini. It is the story of his coming to America from Italy after WWII. He is amazed by the pickiness of the American palate. He came from a country where they ate every moving creature (to avoid starvation), and his girlfriend's family was horrified when he went into the grain field and shot a bunch of songbirds to eat at the family table. Anyway, that book has a recipe for the best spaghetti/meat sauce I have ever made.

Dez 6, 2018, 5:26 pm

>23 hfglen: I have the Kingsley Amis book - I have never made much use of it, but do recommend his Normandy Cocktail (Calvados, cider and Angostura bitters, mainly).

Dez 7, 2018, 8:04 am

>26 Sovay: I found the best bits to be in the Mean Sod’s Guide and how to deal with a hangover.

Dez 7, 2018, 11:27 am

>26 Sovay: I do too, though it's actually >24 haydninvienna: who mentioned it.

Dez 12, 2018, 5:55 am

>2 PhaedraB: I'm admitting to a direct hit--my copy is now on its way.

>10 Sovay: Surprisingly, there seem to be quite a few copies on Amazon, and they're surprisingly expensive.

Editado: Set 16, 2019, 1:45 am

I got my copy of Cooking Out of This World. I reckon it was worth it for this sentence (in an article on eating while reading): “If you are reading Mr Lovecraft’s decaying prose, Roquefort is not the thing to be nibbling.”.

Edited to close parentheses.

Dez 31, 2018, 7:19 pm

Anne McCaffrey did another one later, SERVE IT FORTH, Wildside Press, 1996, inviting more F/SF writers to come play. Sci-Fi people are deeply devoted to food and many of them could really have made it in cookbook writing if they were not otherwise busy!

Dez 31, 2018, 7:26 pm

Keep in mind that her "brownies" were not chocolate bar cake/cookies, but more of a fig/nut/spice confection, with an extra herb 'canibus.' This does not stop people from putting hash in the chocolate version of course, but at that point there's nothing of Alice left.

Editado: Dez 31, 2018, 7:51 pm

I'm not a member of this group officially, but I do have a few oddball cookbooks.

Chow : a cook's tour of military food by Paul Dickson and the 'Bull Cook' series, by George Leonard Herter.

Bull cook and authentic historical recipes and practices, Bull cook and authentic historical recipes and practices Volume II and Bull cook and authentic historical recipes and practices Volume III. By Volume III Mr Herter is struggling to come up with anything authentic, and is reduced to including photos of paintings and statues of naked women and complaining that truffles ruin anything.

Mr Herter also includes the fascinating fact that there've been no great women artists because 'they menstruate'.

Editado: Jan 1, 2019, 4:25 am

>33 MsMixte: truffles ruin anything. Some years ago I was external examiner for a mycological Ph.D. In the orals (which only the candidate took at all seriously -- his thesis was superb) someone asked if he'd ever encountered truffles. He said no, but a wealthy friend had once given him a bottle of truffle oil, which he and his wife had tried valiantly to use and find a redeeming feature for. He said it was vile, and rendered anything it touched inedible.

Jan 1, 2019, 4:34 am

>32 SeleneSue: So that (leaving the recreational elements aside) Alice B. Toklas's brownies must have been a close relative of panforte? I like that idea.

Jan 1, 2019, 4:36 pm

>34 hfglen: When we attended a truffle festival, we were told never to buy truffle oil because there wasn't a smidgen of actual truffle in it. Only artificial flavors and (usually) rancid oil.

Personally, I love truffles, and intend to make a pilgrimage in the next couple of weeks to purchase some fresh ones. But then, I used to menstruate, so. :D

Abr 16, 2019, 2:26 am

>1 haydninvienna: >10 Sovay: As some of you will know, I've spent a fair bit of the last week clearing a storage unit in Canberra. I actually found my old copy of Northern Cookbook! It's now in a box on its way to England.

Maio 14, 2019, 7:11 pm

>37 haydninvienna:: I was watching a TV programme about the diverse wildlife of Alaska earlier this week and it occurred to me to check the index of Northern Cookbook - I think the only featured animal for which it didn't have at least one recipe was the arctic fox.

Apparently polar bear fat is excellent for pastry-making but you should avoid eating its liver for fear of Vitamin A poisoning ...

Maio 15, 2019, 9:20 am

>38 Sovay: I was listening to some book which I can't remember now. Was it history, nutrition, or cooking? Anyway, it was an interview with a native elder who said the natives used to live on the organ meat of the caribou and other animals through the winter when there was no access to plants, because that was where the vitamins were stored up. Now, there are health issues because they do not eat the organ meat, they don't eat vegetables, and they do eat all the fast food which is so easy to access. :/

He didn't mention polar bear organs though. I know some folks in Barrow, AK (my brother's stepkids, but I call them nephew and niece) who still go on seal/whale hunts and eat some sort of fat raw. Apparently, it is an acquired taste. They brought some for my mom and dad to try once, but I wasn't around, so have not had the opportunity.

Maio 15, 2019, 9:03 pm

Charles H. Baker Jr.'s The Gentlemen's Companion is my favorite cookbook "oddity"--a two-volume set from the late 1930s on cookery and drinks mixing that is part memoir, part shaggy-dog story compilation, part tongue-in-cheek bombast, and oh yeah, some recipes. It's absolutely priceless (and many of the recipes sound interesting.) Worth picking up if you run across it; we found it in my husband's grandfather's bookcase after his death--this was a signed subscription edition. There's a Wikipedia entry about the author: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_H._Baker_Jr.

Maio 23, 2019, 3:13 am

Now here is a really seriously weird (but apparently beautiful) one. How do you deal with invasive species? Eat them. Apparently people are eating nutria in New Orleans and lionfish in Florida. But this book carries the concept a good deal further. First, see the Atlas Obscura article.

Then the webshop of the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania. The book looks absolutely gorgeous. But it's A$277.77 (about USD190). Sorry, no way.

I haven't so far mentioned the best bit: apparently there is a recipe for sweet and sour cane toad legs. Much as I'd like to see NE Australia cleared of the warty monsters, I think this is going a little far..

Maio 23, 2019, 3:39 am

I could get on board with the idea of a prickly pear margarita though.

Not so sure about
Since people cause so much destruction worldwide, a recipe for human, cooked with garlic cloves and bay leaves, is also included.

Maio 23, 2019, 9:40 am

>42 haydninvienna: I can identify with that idea of eating invasive species. It is the main reason I made dandelion everything this spring. :) I also discovered that a weed I call "sticky weed" is edible. I hate-hate-hate it in my yard because it sticks everywhere on my cats, but the recipes and ideas I found for eating it were not very appealing either. Apparently people used to ball it up and use it for a milk strainer, because everything sticks to it. I don't have a milk cow, either.

I made a very delicious salad out of weeds this spring, but it's a hard way to get dinner. I think it took a total of four hours to dig, wash, sort and prepare just the dandelion greens for that salad. This is probably why older generations were thinner, getting spinach out of a box at the store requires a lot less energy.

Maio 23, 2019, 1:36 pm

>43 MrsLee: I take it you mean Galium aparine. I'm not trying to steal Hugh's thunder, I just looked at Wikipedia for "sticky weed". It says there that the fruits used to be dried and ground as a coffee substitute. Hugh, if you read this, maybe this is what your Inchanga manager used for his coffee.

Maio 23, 2019, 2:07 pm

>45 haydninvienna: Railways coffee may at some stage in its life have been in the same town, possibly in the same warehouse, as a coffee bean. But heaven alone knows what's in it. It was/is presumably a commercial blend, which probably rules out the great farmers' substitute: Witgat (Boscia albitrunca, Caper family) roots.

Maio 24, 2019, 9:52 am

>44 haydninvienna: Will have to read that this weekend, no time right now and it looks like an article I will love. :)

>45 haydninvienna: That's the one! I suppose if there is ever a coffee shortage, I will treasure it. :P

Jul 8, 2019, 3:07 am

Here is an unashamed plug—a charity cookbook, about which there is really nothing odd other than that. It's Together: Our Community Cookbook by the Hubb Community, published as a fundraiser after the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017. I had some minor trouble tracking down a copy, since I wanted to pay full price in a regular bookshop rather than have Amazon take a skim off the top. Waterstone's in London was sold out when I asked a couple of weeks ago, and I finally found one in Daunt Books last Saturday. It's a collection of recipes from members of the community, most of whom are from Africa or Asia. Very nicely produced indeed, and all proceeds go to the community. The back cover says they hope to sell 50,000 copies, and doing so would raise £250,000. It has an introduction by the Duchess of Sussex, if that helps. (Nice little vignette of her turning up and asking what she could do to help, and being put to work washing rice for lunch.)

I doubt whether I will ever cook anything from it, but the recipes generally look appealing.

Set 16, 2019, 1:58 am

Atlas Obscura is a bit of a storehouse of cookbook oddities. Here's another one: Eat Like an English Peasant. The oddity with this one is that apparently the diet is a bit spare by modern standards but nowhere close to starvation. I would also presume that most people now wouldn't eat beavers. If you go to the Iron Shepherds website linked to in the article, it says that the book is currently sold out but more on the way.

Set 16, 2019, 10:43 am

>49 haydninvienna: Have you ever seen the British Museum Cookbook? Mrs Berriedale-Johnson devotes a chapter to each of the cuisines that go with the major collections in the Museum. Some, like the Anglo-Saxon (think Mildenhall Treasure) and Ancient Greek and Egyptian chapters, are a fragrant blend of tradition and conjecture, but others such as Roman, Renaissance Italy and Georgian England are realizations of actual cookbooks. The saxon recipes are boring, but others decidedly toothsome. (Though the Goergian ones would feed a small army!)

Set 16, 2019, 11:38 am

>50 hfglen: No I haven't but I assume the museum shop sells it. Offhand I don't know whether they have an Ancient Gaulish collection, but 50 variations on roast wild boar would get a trifle tedious.

Editado: Set 16, 2019, 2:33 pm

>51 haydninvienna: Should do -- by now surely in its thousandth printing, at least. They don't; do I detect someone channelling Asterix and/or Obelix? You may be right, but there's also grilled boar, Schweinshaxen ... though even Jan Braai only gives five pork recipes in Red Hot -- maybe he thought more would be boar-ing. I could agree at least some of the time with Jan Braai's starting comment on pork: "Pork should never really be served before being infused with the smoky flavour of a fire".

Set 16, 2019, 12:02 pm

>52 hfglen: I was wondering how they got the energy to deliver menhirs, yes. Incidentally, is there something amiss with your quotation?

Set 16, 2019, 2:34 pm

Yes. A slip of the keyboard, now corrected.

Nov 21, 2020, 2:48 pm

Northern Cookbook (#1): I found it! I’m now unpacking boxes of books that haven’t seen the light of day for (ulp!) 15 years.

Jan 13, 2022, 3:49 am

This clearly belongs on Cookbookers somewhere: One of the Most Famous Victorian Dishes Is a Hilarious Lie. Assuming the author is right, and there never was such a thing as "Brown Windsor soup", I wonder what other legendary dishes never actually existed— or were invented "after the fact"?

Also, there's this: Brown Windsor Soup from The Foods of England.

Editado: Jan 14, 2022, 11:32 am

The oddest cookbook I have on my shelves is The Only Squirrel Cookbook You'll Ever Need: 101 Recipes from Around the World, which was given to me in jest, by my brother. I would have to be on my deathbed from starvation before I would eat squirrel. There are recipes for making roast squirrel in the crockpot (suggested because the bugger is tough).

There is also a website devoted to skinning and eating mice: https://www.treehugger.com/think-everything-tastes-good-deep-fried-try-fried-mic...

Jan 15, 2022, 9:29 am

>57 Tess_W: Genuine Cuisine of Mauritius has recipes for monkey curry and tenrec stew. Because of the nuisance that monkeys cause around here, I'm sometimes tempted by the former.