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Food historians tell us TexMex cuisine originated hundreds of years ago when Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. TexMex, as we Americans know it today, is a twentieth century phenomenon. Dictionaries and food history sources confirm the first print evidence of the term "Tex Mex" occured in the 1940s. Linguists remind us words are often used for several years before they appear in print. TexMex restaurants first surfaced ouside the southwest region in cities with large Mexican populations. The gourmet Tex Mex "fad" began in the 1970s. Diana Kennedy, noted Mexican culinary expert, is credited for elevating this common food to trendy fare. These foods appealed to the younger generation.
"Tex-Mex food might be described as native foreign food, contradictory through that term may seem, It is native, for it does not exist elsewhere; it was born on this soil. But it is foreign in that its inspiration came from an alien cuisine; that it has never merged into the mainstream of American cooking and remains alive almost solely in the region where it originated. "
---Eating in America, Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont [William Morrow:New York] 1976 (p. 281)
[1940s] "Tex-Mex. A combination of the words "Texan" and "Mexican," first printed in 1945, that refers to an adaptation of Mexican dishes by Texas cooks. It is difficult to be precise as to what distinguishes Tex-Mex from true Mexican food, except to say that the variety of the latter is wider and more regional, whereas throughout the state and, now, throughout the entire United States."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 325)
[1950s] "Mexican restaurants, whos popularity coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants after 1950, have for the most part followed the from and style of what is called "Tex-Mex" food, and amalgam of Northern Mexican peasant food with Texas farm and cowboy fare. Chili, which some condsider Texas's state dish, was unknown in Mexico and derived from the ample use of beef in Texan cooking. "Refried beans" are a mistranslation of the Mexican dish frijoles refritos, which actually means well-fried beans. The combination platter of enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas became the unvarying standards of the Tex-Mex menu, while new dishes like chimichangas (supposedly invented in the the 1950s at El Charro restaurant in Tucson, Arizona) and nachos (supposedly first served at a consession at Dallas's State Fair of Texas in 1964. ) were concocted to please the American palate. One Tex-Mex item that may someday rival the pizza as an extraordinarily successful ethnic dish is the fajita. introduced at Ninfa's in Houston on July 13, 1973, as tacos al carbon. No one knows when or where it acquired the name fajita, which means girdle' or'strip' in Spanish and refers to the skirt steak originally used in the preparation. Only in the last decade has refined, regional Mexican food taken a foot-hold in American cities, reflecting not only the tenets of Tex-Mex cookery by the cuisines of Mexico City, the Yucatan, and other regions with long-standing culinary traditions."
---America Eats Out, John Mariani [William Morrow:New York] 1991 (p. 80-1)
"In the good old days, Texans went to "Mexican restaurants" and ate "Mexican food." Then in 1972, The Cuisines of Mexico, an influential cookbook by food authority Diana Kennedy, drew the line between authentic interior Mexican food and the "mixed plates" we ate at "so-called Mexican restaurants" in the United States. Kennedy and her friends in the food community began referring to Americanized Mexican food as "Tex-Mex," a term previously used to describe anything that was half-Texan and half-Mexican. Texas-Mexican restaurant owners considered it an insult. By a strange twist of fate, the insult launched a success. For the rest of the world, "Tex-Mex" had an exciting ring. It evoked images of cantinas, cowboys and the Wild West. Dozens of Tex-Mex restaurants sprang up in Paris, and the trend spread across Europe and on to Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Abu Dhabi. Tortilla chips, margaritas and chili con carne are now well-known around the world." --- Houston Post, 6 part series, all online:
American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones [chapter III "Padres and Conquistadores"]
Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [separate entries for specific foods--fajita, tamale, chalupa. ]
The History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, "The History of Cereals, Maize in the West" (pages 164-176)
New Mexico Cooking: Southwestern Flavors of the Past and Present, Clyde Casey
Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew J. Smith [Mexican American Food]
Que Vivan Los Tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity/Jeffrey M. Pilcher
You Eat What You Are, Thelma-Barer-Stein ("Mexico")
The history of bunuelos and churros can be traced to ancient peoples. fritters were known to many cultures and cuisines; each evolving according to local tastes and customs. These foods were introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers. There are several foods closely related to bunuelos and churros: sopaipillas & fry bread. In other countries, simliar recipes evolved as doughnuts, funnel cake, and waffles.
"Most countries have their version of bunuelos, or fritters, either sweet or savory, and they are certainly great favorites throughout Spain and Latin America. In many parts of Mexico bunuelos are made of a stiffer dough, which is rolled out thin anywhere up to 12 inches in diameter and then fried crisp and staked up ready for use. In Uruapan. they are broken into small pieces and heated\ quickly in a thick syrup of piloncillo, the raw sugar of Mexico. These of Veracruz are very much like the churros of Spain, but flavored with aniseeds, and served with a syrup."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper Row:New York] 1972 (p. 329-330)
"At every Spanish festival or carnival, one is sure to find a huge cauldron of bubbling oil where Churros are quickly fried, shaped into loops, and threaded into reeds that are then knotted for easy carrying. They are meant to be purchased immediately after frying, usually by the dozens, and are munched on by visitors as they wander about taking tin the sights. Churros are nothing more than fried batter of flour and water, but they are essential to a Spanish breakfast, dipped either in sugar or in a cup of coffee or thick hot chocolate. If one is out on an all-night binge--a juerga, as it is called--it is the custom to end the evening by eating Churros and hot chocolate at the churreria, or churro store, which opens by dawn."
---The Foods and Wines of Spain, Penelope Casas [New York:Knopf] 1982 (p. 342)
[NOTE: this book has a recipe for churros, we can send you a copy if you like]
---recipes for several different kinds of bunuelos; pages introducing desserts (p. 340-1) sum up the ingredients used and holiday connections.
Burritos, as we Americans know them today, pair ancient culinary traditions with contemporary expectations. What makes burritos different from most other Mexican-American foods is the metamorhpasis of this dish. We tracked down the earliest print references for "burritos" cited by food history in American/English reference books. They are nothing like the burritos we are served today. "What" modern burritos are is easily defined. "When" & "where" did the change happen? Early 1960s, Southern California. "Who" & "why" remain a mystery. Our survey of historic newspapers suggest food trucks played a roll. Burritos are efficient, economical, easy & delicious.
"Burrito. A tortilla rolled and cooked on a griddle, then filled with a variety of condiments. Burritos are a Mexican-American staple. The word, from Spanish for "little donkey," first saw print in America in 1934. If fried, the burrito becomes a chimichanga."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 48)
"Burrito. A Mexican dish consisting of a maize-flour tortilla rolled round a savoury filling (of beef, chicken, refried beans, etc.) 1934: E. Ferguson. Mexican Cookbook. 33. Burritos (Little Burros). Mix tortillas. but mold them thicker than usual. Make a depression in the middle of each and fill with chichiarrones. 1962 Mulvey & Alvares Good Food from Mexico (rev. ed.) iii.81 Burritos in the northern part of Mexico and in the southwestern part of the United States are quite different. Now a popular dish in many restaurants and taco stands in California and Texas are northern burritos, which are made by folding a flour tortilla around a mound of re-fried beans, seasoned to taste with chili."
Our regional cookbooks confirm "burros" are indeed a larger version of "burritos" in Arizona and surrounding areas. The "ito" suffix denotes a smaller version of the original item.
". in the Sonora and southeastern Arizona, some people make tortillas out of wheat, as well as, corn. Not just tortillas, but huge regional tortillas, often well over twenty inches in diameter. Wrapped around some sort of filling, they are called burros or burritos, depending upon the size. Burros can be filled with anything. If you deep-fry a burro it becomes a chimichanga--a truly local dish from Another Arizona or northern Sonora."
---Tucson's Mexican Restaurants, Suzanne Myal [Fiesta Publishing:Tucson AZ] 1997 (p. 14) 
Mix tortillas according to recipe on page 85, but mold them thicker than usual. Make a depression in the middle of each and fill with chicharrones, made according to recipe on page 30, and chopped. Bake in a moderate oven." (p. 33)
"Tortillas (1) (With Corn Meal),br> 2 cups corn meal or masa
Mix corn meal or masa and salt. If dry meal is used, add enough water to make a stiff dough, aven the masa may require a little moisture. Adding 1 cup white flour to this receipt will make the dough easier to handle. Set dougn aside for 20 minutes, we hands in water, mold balls of dougn th size of hens' eggs, pat into thin cakes, and bake on soapstone or lightly greased griddle, turning until brown on both sides." (p. 85)
This is the fat cut from under the skin of the hog. The best comes from the part where the bacon is cut. To prepare, cut into small pieces and cook slowly in the oven, stirring often, until all lard is rendered out and the chicharrones are a delicate brown. Then strain." (p. 30) ---Mexican Cookbook Erna Fergusson [Rudal Press:Santa Fe NM] 1934
2 cups nixtamalina (packaged or canned, or 2 cups white corn meal
Chicharrones (page 237)
Mix nictamalina or white corn meal and salt. Add enough water to make a stiff dough and set aside for twenty minutes. Wet hands in water and mold balls of dough the size of a walnut. Pat into one-quarter-inch cakes, Make a depression in the center of each and fill with chiccahrones. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) ten to fifteen minutes. Yield: three dozen.' (p. 91)
3 cups sifted flour
3 cups shortening
Beat egg whites with one tablespoon flour until stiff. Add the yeast which has been dissolved in two tablespoons water. Cream one cup shortening, Add egg yolks, egg white mixture, flour and brandy, and mix well to a soft dough. Bake in a greased loaf pan in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) thirty to forty minutes until done. Cool and cut into one-eighth inch slices. Deep-fry in remaining hot shortening (350 degrees F.) until golden brown. Yield: four dozen." (p. 237)
---Good Food From Mexico, Ruth Watt Mulvey & Luisa Maria Alverez [M. Barrows:New York] 1950
"(Burritos in the northern part of Mexico and in the southwesteren part of the United States are quite different. Now a popular dish in many restaurants and taco stands in California and Texas are nothern burritos, which are made by folding a flour tortilla around a mound of refried beans, seasoned to taste with chili.)"
---Good Food From Mexico, Ruth Watt Mulvey and Luisa Maria Alvarez [Collier Books:London] revised edition, 1962 (p. 81)
[NOTE: The recipe for Burritos in this book is exactly the same as the 1950 edition.]
"Dear SOS: What are the chances of getting a recipe for burritos--particularly the pork variety. We are told that burritos, known only in the northern part of Mexico and along the border in the States, are beginning to be popular in our taco stands. They are usually made with large flour tortillas and served hot, but not fried. Fillings are often fried beans or chopped meats in a spicy sauce or a combination of the two.
Flour tortillas may be purchased, but they're easy to make.
1/4 cup shortening
Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until like coars meal. Mix in enough water to make soft dough. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide dough into 6 equal portions Shape each into a ball and roll into 8-in. round tortillas. Cook on moderately hot ungreased griddle until lightly browned in spots, turning once. Spoon filling from top to bottom on left half of hot tortilla. Fold up bottom edge and roll with filling tucked inside.
1 1/2 lb. lean pork
1 cup tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 peeled green chili
Cook pork with water, garlic, salt and pepper over moderate heat, with pan covered, until water cooks away. Uncover, discard garlic and let meat cook in own fat until browned, turning frequently. Add onion; cook few minutes then add cut up tomatoes. Crush coriander seeds and soak in 1 tbsp. hot water 2 min. Strain off water into meat mixture. Cut chili into small strips or chop finely,=. Add to meat. (Discard chili seeds for milder seasoning.) Cook, covered, until meat is tender and sauce thickened. Makes enough filling for 8 large burritos."
---"Burritos Gaining a Foothold in U.S.," Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1964 (p. D2)
"Burritos: In California, 'little burros' are becoming very popular. Flour tortillas are used for these, with a spoonful of chili-flavored cooked meat, sometimes mixed with beans, placed in the center. The two opposite sides of the tortilla are folded over to cover the edges of filling, then the other sides are folded over to make little packages. These are fried until crisp, and eaten hot."
---Elena's Favorite Foods California Style, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1967 (p. 174)
Chile peppers are "New World" foods, so it stands to reason Native Americans (from South/Central America/American Southwest) ate them before the European Explorers discovered these lands. Hot chile peppers were sometimes combined with tomatoes to form an early version of salsa. It is important to note that there are many different kinds of peppers: sweet, bell, Holland. Some of these were introduced later by scientists. Hungarian famous paprika is derived from this commodity. Wilbur Scoville invented the famous chile "heat" scale bearing his name.
"The fruits of Capsicum species seem to have a magnetic attraction for confusing colloquila nomes. It began with Columbus discovering them on his first voyage and calling them peppers of the Indies, initiating a mix-up which has lasted to this day. This fruit with many names brows on plants of the genus Capsicum, members of the Solanacae family like the tomatoes and potatoes. There were three species, or species groups, of cultivated chiles in ancient America. The white-flowered and white seeded Capsicum annum, chinense, Capsicum annum was in Mexico to be found, wild, in cultural deposits in the Tehuacan valley dating from 7200 to 5200 B.C. "
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin TX] 1994 (p. 60-61)
"Wild chillies were being gathered and eaten in Mexico c.7000BC, and were cultivated there before 3500 BC."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2007 (p. 171)
"Interestingly. it was not the Spanish who were responsible for the early diffusion of New World food plants. Rather, it was the Portuguese, aided by local traders following long-used trade routes, who spread American plants though the Old World with almost unbelievable rapidity. Unfortunately, documentation for the routes that chilli peppers followed from the Americas is not as plentiful as that for other New World economic plants. it is highly probable that capsicums accompanied the better-documented Mesoamerican food complex of corn, beans, and squash, as peppers have been closely associated with these plants throughout history. The fiery new spice was readily accepted by the natives of Africa and India. From India, chilli peppers traveled. not only along the Portuguese route back around Africa to Europe but also over ancient trade routes that led either to Europe via the Middle East or to monsoon Asia. In the latter cakes, if the Portuguese had not carried chilli peppers to Southeast Asia and Japan, the new spice would have been spread by Arabic, Gujurati, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Javanese traders. In the Szechuan and Hunan provinces in China, where many New World foods were established within the lifetime of the Spanish conquistadors, there were no read leading from the coast. Nonetheless, American foods were known there by the middle of the sixteenth century, having reached these regions via caravan routes from the Ganges River through Burma and across western China. "
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge], Volume One, 2000 (p. 282)
"Despite a European 'discovery' of the Americas, chilli peppers diffused throughout Europe in circuitous fashion. Following the fall of Granada in 1492, the Spaniards established dominance over the western Mediterranean while the Ottoman Turks succeeded power in northern Africa. the Mediterranean became. two separate seas divided by Italy, Malta, Sicily, with little or no trade or contact between the eastern and western sections. Venice was the center of the spice and Oriental trade of central Europe, and Venice depended on the Ottoman Turks. From central Europe the trade went to Antwerp and the rest of Europe, although Antwerp also received Far Eastern goods from the Portuguese via India, Africa, and Lisbon. It was along these avenues that chili peppers traveled into much of Europe. They were in Italy by 1535. Germany by 1542. England before 1538. the Balkans before 1569. and Moravia by 1585. But except in the Balkans and Turkey, Europeans did not make much use of chilli peppers until the Napoleonic blockade cut off their supply of spices and they turned to Balkan paprika as a substitute. Prior to that, Europeans had mainly grown capsicums in containers as ornamentals."
"We know that Columbus was the first European to see Native Americans consuming capsicum peppers, and our word for them reveals that he was really searching for black pepper and called these 'pimiento' with as much enthusiasm as he called the natives 'Indians.' But the very fact that they could also be found far away as China within a few years has led some scholars to suggest that they may have reached Asia even before they did Europe. It is certain though that the Portuguese brought peppers to their colonies in Asia. Peppers were first described in Europe in the German herbal of Leonard Fuchs in 1542, but he thought they came from India. Like several other New World imports though, it appears that poor people were the only ones willing to eat them; they are not even mentioned in cookbooks which naturally catered to a literate and elite audience."
---Food in Early Modern Europe, Ken Albala [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2003 (p. 32)
"Chile is historically associated with the voyage of Columbus (Heiser 1976). Columbus is given credit for introducing chile to Europe, and subsequently to Africa and to Asia. On his first voyage, he encountered a plant whose fruit mimicked the pungency of the black pepper, Piper nigrum L. Columbus called it red pepper because the pods were red. The plant was not the black pepper, but a heretofore unknown plant that was later classified as Capsicum. Capsicum is not related to the Piper genus. In 1493, Peter Martyr (Anghiera 1493) wrote that Columbus brought home "pepper more pungent than that from the Caucasus." Chile spread rapidly across Europe into India, China, and Japan. The new spice, unlike most of the solanums from the Western Hemisphere, was incorporated into the cuisines instantaneously. Probably for the first time, pepper was no longer a luxury spice only the rich could afford. Since its discovery by Columbus, chile has been incorporated into most of the world's cuisines. It has been commercially grown in the United States since at least 1600, when Spanish colonists planted seeds and grew chile using irrigation from the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico (DeWitt and Gerlach 1990)."--- SOURCE
"A few new spices reached Britain after the end of the Middle Ages. The Spaniards brought back from Central America several members of the capsicum family, which were naturalized in southern Europe. The larger fruits were imported thence into England under the name of Guinea pepper. The smallest, reddest and hottest of the American capsicums, when dried and powdered, produced cayenne pepper, the 'chyan' of English eighteenth century recipe books."
---Food & Drink in Britain From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991 (p. 293)
"The use of the term pepper for fruits of the capsicum family dates from the eighteenth century, an allusion to the similar pungency of taste. In particular it refers to the Capsicum annuum, a native of tropical America, which is generally called more fully the sweet pepper (an alternative name in American English is bell pepper)."
---An A to Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 251)
"The word "cayenne" seems to come from kian, the name of the pepper among the Tupi Indians of northeastern South America. The pod type probably originated in what is now French Guiana and was named after either the Cayenne River of the capital of the country, cayenne. It owes its spread to Portugal, whose traders carried it to Europe, Africa, India, and Asia. Although it probably was introduced into Spain before 1500, its circuitous route caused it to be transferred to Britain from India in 1548. In 1597, the botanist John Gerard referred to cayenne as "ginnie or Indian pepper" in his herbal, and in his influential herbal of 1652, Nicholas Culpepper wrote that cayenne was "this violent fruit" that was of considerable service to "help digestion, provoke urine, relieve toothache, preserve the teeth from rottenness, comfort a cold stomach, expel the stone from the kidney, and take away dimness of sight." Cayenne appeared in Miller's The Gardener's and Botanist's Dictionary in 1768, proving it was being cultivated in England--at least in home gardens."
---The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia, Dave DeWitt [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 68-69)
"The melegueta pepper enjoyed great popularity during the Elizabethan Age in England, primarily through trade with Portugal."
"Peppers - pages 364-366. "Capsicum. Ginnie or Indian Pepper. . Ginnie pepper hath the taste of pepper, but not the power or vertue, notwithstanding in Spaine and sundrie parts of the Indies they do vse to dresse their meate therewith, as we doe with Calecute pepper: but (saith my Authour) it hath in it a malicious qualitie, whereby it is an enemy to the liuer and other of the entrails. It is said to die or colour like Saffron; and being received in such sort as Saffron is usually taken, it warmeth the stomacke, and helpeth greatly the digestion of meates."
"Peppers of the annuum species were transferred into what is now the American Southwest--first by birds and then by humankind. Botanists believe that the wild annum variety known as chiltepins spread northward from Mexico through dissemination by birds long before Native Americans domesticated peppers and made them part of their trade goods. These chiltepins still grow wild today in Arizona and in South Texas, where they are known as chilipiquins. According to most accounts, chile peppers were introduced the second time into what is now known the United States by Calitan General Juan de Onate, who founded Sante Fe in 1609. However, they may have been introduced to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico by the Antonio Espejo expedition of 1582-83. According to one of the members of the expedition. "They have no chile, but the native were given some seed to plant." But by 1601, chiles were not on the list of Indian crops, according to colonist Francisco de Valverde..But soon chiles were being grown by Spanish and Indians alike.. We do know that soon after the Spanish arrived, the cultivation of peppers in New Mexico spread rapidly and the pods were grow both in Spanish settlements and native pueblos. During the 1700s, peppers were popping up in other parts of the country. In 1768, according to legend, Minorcan settlers in St. Augustine, Florida, introduced the datil pepper, a land race of the Chinese species. Other introductions were also occuring during the eighteenth century. In 1785, George Washington planted two rows of "bird peppers" and one row of cayenne at Mount Vernon, but it is not known how he acquired the seed. Another influential American, Thomas Jefferson, was also growing peppers from seed imported from Mexico. By the early 1800s, commercial seed varieties became available to the American public. In 1806 a botanist named McMahon listed four varieties for sale, and in 1826, another botanist named Thornburn listed "Long' (cayenne), "Tomato-Shaped' (squash), 'Bell' (oxheart), 'Cherry' and 'Bird' (West Indian) peppers as available for gardeners. Two years later, squash peppers were cultivated in North American gardens and that same year (1828), the 'California Wonder Bell' pepper was first named and grown commercially."
---The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia, Dave DeWitt [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 13-4)
[NOTE: This book contains far more information than can be paraphrased here. Your librarian will be happy to help you obtain a copy.]
"Bell pepper is a large, flesh mild green pepper, turning into red or gold when fully ripe. Sturtevant cites Lionel Wafer in 1699, who mentions Bell-pepper and Bird-pepper as growing in the Ithsmus of America, and Edward Long in 1774, who lists nine varieties of Capsicum as being under cultivation in Jamaica; of these, "the Bell is esteemed most proper for pickling," Sturtevant repeats. Among numerous references to Capsicum by Jefferson, one unmistakably refers to bell pepper, seeds of which were sent from Mexico in 1824: 'Large Pepper, a good salad the seeds being removed." Plantings of Piperoni in 1774 and Capsicum Major in 1812, among others, would seem to refer to bell pepper as well. Cayenne pepper (Capsicum frutenscens L. var. longum Bailey) was planted by Jefferson as early as 1767. The presence of hot peppers in the West Indies had been chronicled since 1494, according to Sturtevant. Long pepper was a popular name for the elongated cayenne, but it had been appropriated from the eastern Piper longum, the fruit spikelet of which had fallen into disuse by the time of the voyages of discovery. The use of capsicum peppers seems to have come to Virginia by way of the West Indies (see Pepper Pot an Gumbo, for instance). The choice of pepper for Pepper Vinegar is not altogether clear. I opt for cayenne because of the implied heat in comparing the flavor to that of black pepper; also Jefferson correspondence in 1813 (Garden Book) refers to vinegar in which cayenne is steeped brine used as seasoning. (This must have been the basis for later southern barbecue mixtures.) However, some argue for the use of mild pepper in this recipe, but I think that Mrs. Randolph would have so specified. In any event, the use of hot peppers in traditional Virginia cookery was highly skilled and discreet, just enough to brighten the taste, not to set it afire."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, with historical notes and commentaries by Karen Hess, facsimile 1824 edition [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia] 1984 (p. 282-3)
[NOTE: This book contains several additional notes and selected recipes for Capsicum, Bell and Cayenne peppers.]
People have been stuffing vegetables with a variety of minced mixtures for thousands of years. Ancient Greek dolma (stuffed vine leaves) is one of the most famous "Old World" examples. Aztec and Maya cooks stuffed tamales with all sorts of fillings. Chiles Rellenos (stuffed chilies) descend from this delicious tradition. About chile peppers.
Stuffed pepper recipes published in early USA sources reflect the dichotomy between Old and New world interpretations. Recipes titled Chiles Rellenos are sometimes noted as "Mexican" or "Foreign." The farther the distance from Mexico and California, the more Anglicized the recipe. Think: pickled peppers. [Pre-Hispanic Central America]
Capon Green Chilis. Choose big, green chilis, toast them and peel them. Make a cut in the chilis below the stalks, being careful not to split them. Devein the chilis. Crumble some fresh cheese, chop some chenopodium leaves and mix with the cheese, chopping up the mixture thoroughly. Stuff the chilis with the mixture and fry them in lard. When they are well-cooked, remove from the fat and drain them. Dip very thin tortillas in boiling hot salted butter or lard and then wrap each chili in a tortilla and place on a serving dish."
---Cocina Prehispanica: Pre-Hispanic Cooking, Ana M. de Benitez [Ediciones Euroamericanas Klaus Thiele:Mexico] 1974 (p. 75-77)
"Chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles)
Prepare the egg for the chiles: separate the whites from the yolks. Meat the whites with a fork or a wicker spoon, but by no means with a beater. When the whites are beaten to snowy peaks, add three tablespoons of flour and fold in the eggs to incorporate the flour. The yolks are not added to the whites until the moment the chiles are fried. Take this precaution. The other way makes the batter very think and the chiles don't fry well, because they have to be coated well with the egg to come out right. For fifteen chiles you should use 10 eggs. Don't beat the yolks until they are ready to be added to the whites at the moment you fry the chiles. When the yolks are added to the whites, give them half a turn, pouring them on the chiles, turning them in the batter, then putting them in the already hot lard."
---Encarnacion's Kitchen: Mexican Recipes form Nineteenth-Century California, Encarnacion Pinedo, edited and translated by Dan Strehl [University of California Press:Berkeley CA] 2003 (p. 121)
[NOTES: (1) Encarnacion Pinedo lived was born 1848. Her book, El cocinero espanol, was published in 1898. (2) This book also offers a version stuffed with scrambled eggs and cooked artichoke bottoms, picadillo (minced meats & spices), shrimp, salt cod, cheese, canned French sardines & white cabbage. Also, Stuffed verdes rellenos (stuffed green chiles)]
Get large bell peppers. Cut around the stem, remove it, and take out all the seeds. For the stuffing use two quarts of chopped cabbage, a cupful of white mustard seed, three table-spoonfuls of celery seed, two table-spoonfuls of salt, half a cupful of grated horse-radish. Fill each pepper with a part of this mixture, and into each one put a small onion and a little cucumber. Tie the stem on again and put the peppers in a jar, and cover with cold vinegar."
---Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, Maria Parloa [Estes and Luariat:Boston] 1880, 1886 (p. 344)
6 green peppers
1/2 cup cold cooked meat cut in small dice
1 tablespoon melted butter
Salt and pepper.
Cut off pieces from stem ends of peppers. Remove seeds and partitions; parboil eight minutes. Fill with rice, meat, tomatoes, and butter, well mixed, and seasoned with onion juice, salt, and pepper. Place in a pan, add one and one-half cups water or stock, and bake forty-five minutes in a moderate oven.
"Stuffed Peppers II Prepare peppers as for Stuffed Peppers I. Fill with equal parts of finely chopped cold cooked chicken or veal, and softened bread crumbs, seasoned with onion juice, salt and pepper."
---Original Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Fannie Merritt Farmer, facsimile 1896 edition [Weathervane Books:New York] 1973 (p. 267-268)
"NO. 55. CHILES RELLENOS. Mrs. C. Y. Yglesias, 1037 Albany street, Los Angeles.--Take one dozen green chiles, roast on a pan over the fire without lard; when skin becomes puffy they are done. When cold peel off the skin, cut off stem and remove seeds. For filling put in chopping bowl any cold meat, one onion, a clove or two of garlic, two tomatoes, stoned olives and raisins, half a cup if desired. When this is chopped fine add half a small cup of vinegar and fry on a pan with hot lard. Cool and fill one by one the chiles. When all are filled beat three eggs, whites and yolks separately, add a tablespoon flour and a spoonful of milk, season with salt and pepper. Now drop one by one the stuffed chiles in this batter and fry brown in hot lard. Serve hot. ANOTHER WAY.--Prepare the chiles in the same way as before, and for this filling use grated cheese instead of meat.
NO. 56. CHILES RELLENOS. Mrs. A. A. Bradshaw, 1920 Front street, San Diego, Cal.--Skin several green peppers by frying slightly in hot lard; slit at side, removing seeds; stuff with preparation of chopped boiled beef, onion, thyme, few drops vinegar if liked, some bread crumbs, a little gravy or good broth, salt and pepper. Dip in beaten egg, then flour and fry or saute in oil, butter or lard. When done serve with sauce made by cooking together a spoonful of lard or butter, a little flour, then add water, sliced pears, apples and seeded raisins, cooking until tender.
Two cans Del Monte Pimientos (8 or 0), 1/2 pound of California cheese, 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let peppers drain, then sift a little flour over them, cut cheese in thick squares and insert into peppers. Separate eggs and beat whites very stiff, then add salt and yolks, then flour which makes a fluffy batter. Put pepper into batter and fry in hot oil or lard until light brown on both sides. Sauce: Take remaining fat and cut on onion, large clove of garlic and fry till brown; add little flour and let brown; add 2 cans Del Monte sauce, salt, parsley, little sugar and when cooked put peppers into sauce and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve on lettuce. Mrs. H. B."
---Corona Club Book Book, Corona Club, San Francisco [John Kitchen:San Francisco] 1925 (p. 109-110)
Cut Monterey cream cheese into oblongs about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Around each piece of cheese wrap a strip of peeled green chile, either canned or fresh. Have ready a batter made as follows: Allow 1 egg to each 2 whole peppers (chiles), and 1 tablespoon flour to each egg. Separate eggs; beat whites until stiff, then lightly fold in beaten yolks and flour. Drop the cheese-stuffed peppers into the mixture one at a time. Pick up with a spoon and place in a frying pan with plenty of moderately hot oil, about 1 1/2 inches deep, and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper and let stand. Shortly before serving time, make a thin sauce as follows: Mince half an onion and 1 clove garlic fine, and fry in a little oil. Strain 2 cups of solid pack tomatoes into the mixture, forcing the puree through the sieve; then add 2 cups of any kind of stock, preferably chicken. When boiling, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon oregano, which is rubbed between the palms of the hands into the sauce. When ready to serve, put the peppers into the boiling sauce just long enough to heat them through--about 5 minutes. They puff up when heated this way. Peppers may be fixed several hours or even a day ahead of time, and heated in the sauce just before serving. "Chiles Rellenos is a typical Mexican recipe, yet it can be used by the average family in any part of the country by following the suggestions listed below. If green peeled chiles are not available, or if you do not desire to have a hot dish, used canned pimientos or fresh bell peppers, skinned. The batter used in this recipe may also be used for coating of zucchini. If Monterey cheese is not available, American cheese may be used."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 90-91)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Chiles Verdes Rellenos Con Sardina (green chilies stuffed with sardines) and Arroz Con Chiles Rellenos (Mexican rice with stuffed chiles), Berenjenas Rellenas (stuffed eggplant), Pimientos Morrones Rellenos (stuffed pimientos), Pimientos Rellenos Con Arroz (stuffed peppers with rice)]
"Chiles Rellenos Con Queso (Chiles Stuffed with Cheese)
This is an all-time favorite with Mexicans and Americans alike. Although chiles rellenos means stuffed chiles, it is usually assumed that they are cheese-stuffed. However, to be sure, order chiles rellenos con queso, when in a restaurant. This version, which is mine, lighter and fluffier than the Mexican kind, but I find it's preferred by Americans. The stuffed chiles are reheated in a sauce, but I find that some of my friend prefer them plain, so suit yourself. This recipe makes 8 chiles rellenos. 1/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons flour
Cut cheese in rectangles about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch long. Wrap a strip of chile around each piece of cheese (medium-sized chile makes two strips). Roll in flour. Make a batter by beating the whites of eggs until stiff and beating the yolks lightly. Fold yolks into whites, then fold in flour. Drop the stuffed and floured chiles into the batter one at a time. Pick up each with a spoon and transfer to a saucer; then slide from saucer into about 1 1/2 inches of moderately hot oil in your frying pan. This keeps the chiles neater and holds more of the batter. Baste with hot oil or they may turn turtle. Fry until golden brown on each side, but quickly! Darin then well on absorbent paper and let stand. Don't worry if the nice puffy coating deflates. It will puff up again when heated in this thin sauce before serving.
1 small clove garlic
1 cup canned tomatoes
Salt, pepper, oregano
Cook onion and garlic until wilted, in oil. Add tomatoes and press through a strainer. Put in a pot with the stock and bring to a boil, then season to taste with salt, pepper and oregano rubbed between the palms of the hand. At serving time, heat the chiles in the boiling sauce for about 5 minutes. If frozen, cover and put in the oven for a few minutes (about 10 minutes) before putting in sauce. Chiles may also be stuffed with any meat, chicken or fish, or with picadillo (see page 82)."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. 182-184)
"I use a tomato sauce with these Chilies Rellenos with Picadillo. If you wish to vary the recipe, follow the method below, but fill with Monterey Jack cheese instead of Picadillo.
1 dozen fresh long green chilies
6 tablespoons flour
Sauce: Saute lightly 1 medium-size onion, minced, in a tablespoon of oil. Add 8-oz. can tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or a 10 1/2 oz. can chicken consomme), a dash of powdered cloves and a stick of cinnamon, Salsa Jalapena to taste (or chopped canned green chili), a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Add Chilies Rellenos, and simmer until they are puffy and hot. Or if you prefer, reheat the chilies in the oven and serve the sauce separately, thickened slightly."---(p. 170-171)) ?
"Picadillo is a really early California dish. It was probably invented by some of the Mexicans who came here in early days. It can be used in many ways. I particularly like it to stuff onions or Chiles Rellenos.
1 onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, or 1 cup canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins, plumped in 1/4 cup hot broth or water
Chopped canned green chilies or chili powder to taste
Brown meat and onion in oil. Add all remaining ingredients except almonds. Heat to boiling, turn heat low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Stir in almonds. Makes about 3 cups." ---(p. 169)
---Elena's Favorite Foods California Style, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1967
Chili, a new world recipe, originally meant beans served in a spicy tomato sauce. This nutritionally balanced combination was known to ancient Aztec and Mayan cooks. Food historians generally agree chili con carne is an American recipe with Mexican roots. "Con carne" means with meat (Carne is the Spanish word for meat). Our survey of historic newspapers suggests the original recipe was just chili (powder) and meat.
Today in the United States, chile con carne is usually a combination of beans, sauce and ground beef. It can be made at home, selected from restaurant menus or purchased (ready-made or in kits) from food stores. Dedicated southwestern chili afficionados concentrate on spices, not the meat. Unless? Of course, they live in Texas.
"Chili con carne sounds authentically Spanish, which it could hardly be, for the Spaniards had never seen a chili before they reached America; it was an element of Indian, not of Spanish, cooking. The Spanish name could have been explained by a Mexican origin, but the only persons who deny that provenance more vehemently than the Texans, who claim credit for it, are the Mexicans, who deny paternity with something like indignation. This dish is believed to have been invented in the city of San Antonio some time after the Civil War; it grew in favor after the developement of chili powder in New Braunfels in 1902."
---Eating in America: A History, Waverly Root and Richard De Rochemont [William Morrow:New York] 1976 (p. 277-8)
"Instinctively, one knows that chili originated in the Southwest, was of Mexican inspiration, and that it moved eastward to the southern states in the early part of the century. Although American Indians used for one dish or another such chilies as could be found in various parts of America, chili con carne was not an Indian invention. Carolyn Niethammer, in her book American Indian Food and Lore, states that the tiny round chili called chillipiquin was known in New Mexico and Arizona, but the Indians did not know the large, domesticated chilies such as those used in chili con carne "until the Spaniards brought them [here] after passing through Mexico." The late Frank X. Tolbert, perhaps the nation's leading historian on the subject of chili, indicates in his book, A Bowl of Red, his assurance that chili originated in San Antonio, Texas."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, compiled by Joan Whitman [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 88)
"Chili con carne is a stew that consists of meat, hot chile peppers, a liquid such as water or broth, and spices. It may or may not contain such ingredients as onions, tomatoes, or beans. Everything about chili con carne generates some sort of controversy- the spelling of the name, the origin of the dish, the proper ingredients for a great recipe. Although archaeological evidence indicates that chile peppers evolved in Mexico and South America, most writers on the subject state flatly that chili did not orginate in Mexico. Even Mexico disclaims chili; one Mexican dictionary defines it as: "A detestable dish sold from Texas to New York City and errouneously described as Mexican." Despite such protestations, the combiantion of meat and chile peppers in stew-like concoctions is not uncommon in Mexican cooking. Mexican caldillos (thick soups or stews), moles (meaning "mixture"), and adobos (thick sauces) often resemble chili con carne in both appearance and taste because they all sometimes use similar ingredients: various types of chiles combined with meat (usually beef), onions, garlic, cumin, and occasionally tomatoes. But chili con carne fanatics tell strange tales about the possible origin of chili. The story of the "lady in blue" tells of Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600s who never left her convent in Spain but nonetheless had out-of-body experiences during which her spirit would be transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. After one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne, which the Indians gage her: chile peppers, venison, onions, and tomatoes. An only slightly less fanciful account suggests that Canary Islanders, transplanted to San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers nad wild onions combined with various meats to create early chili combinations. E. De Grolyer. believed that Texas chili con carne had its origins as the "pemmican of the Southwest" in the late 1840s. The most likely explanation for the origin of chili con carne in Texas comes from the heritage of Mexican food combined with the rigors of life on the Texas frontier. Most historians agree that the earliest written description of chili came from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston. Hew worte of visiting San Antonio in 1828: "When they [poor fmailies of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat--this is all stewed together." Except for this one quote, which does not mention the dish by name, historians of heat can find no documented evidence of chili in Texas before 1880. Around that time in San Antonio, a municipal market--El Mercado--was operating in Military Plaza. Historian Charles Ramsdell noted that "the first rickety chili stands" were set up in this marketplace, with bols o'red sold by women who were called "chili queens.". A bowl o'red cost visitors like O. Henry and William Jennings Bryan a mere dime and was served with bread and a glass of water. The fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. At the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, a bowl o'red was availabe at the "San Antonio Chili Stand."
---The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia, Dave DeWitt [William Morrow:New York] 1999(p. 76-8)
"A new book. written by Dr. S. Compton Smith. 'is the first which pretends to give actual personal and anecdotal incidents of the Mexican War campaigns. It is called Chile Con Carne, or the Camp and Field.'"
---"A New Book," Janesville Morning Gazette [WI] August 18, 1857 (p. 6)
[NOTES: (1) Smith's book is online. Smith defines Chili Con Carne thusly: “Chile con came — a popular Mexican dish — literally red pepper and meat.” (p. 99)]
"Twice a week they can afford a stew of chili con carne (our old friend hash, made fiery hot with red pepper)."
---"The City of the Pueblo," The Journal [Muskogee, Indian Territory, OK], March 25, 1880 (p. 3)
"The secretary of war ordered the inspector general of the army to place on the supply list for the use of the army the Americanized Mexican food, 'chili con carne.' It has been recommended by officers of the army as a most valuable diet, and for its anti-scorubic properties."
---"Brief New Items," Albert Lea Freeborn County Standard [Albert Lea, MN], January 19, 1882 (p 2)
"A chili con carne factory is among the contemplated enterprises of our city."
---"Local Dots," Daily Light [San Antonio TX] April 14, 1882 (p. 1)
"If you want a nice dish, take two tablespoonsful Tobin's Chili Con Carne to four eggs, beat up well together, and make into omelette."
---"City Items," Daily Light [San Antonio TX] May 16, 1882 (p. 4)
"Chili Con Carne. An Article of Commerce--Adopted by the Army and Navy--And Sold in your Leading Houses. In this section of the country, where it is claimed the food called Chili-Con-Carne originated, it sounds strange to hear it said that a dish of really nourishing and palatable Chili-Con-Carne is quite a rarity; this long felt want has finally been supplied by Tobins' canned Chili Con Carne. It is put up by Tobey & Booth, of Chicago, after the recipe and under the directions of our fellow-townsmen, Capt. W.C. Tobin, and is proving itself worthy of the large and increasing sale that it is now enjoying; it is without a doubt the finest canned meat put up; being anti-scorubic and very nourishing, it has been adopted by both arm and nave, and may be found at the head of the list of stores of these departments. It is handsomely and attractively put up in full 2 lb. cans bearing an elegant three colored label. Like all canned goods that we sell, we guarantee it to keep, and will make good any can that may be spoiled. Those our friends who have not yet tried these goods we would suggest their ordering a sample case; we are sure your customers will like it, and that you can build up a large and profitable trade for the same. Price, $3.75 per doz."
---Chili-Con-Carne," The Evening Light [San Antonio TX], May 27, 1882 (p. 1)
[NOTE: Product testimonials occupy 2/5 of the first page of this newspaper. The piece is referred to as the "Chili Con Carne Manifesto" on p. 4 of the paper.]
"From the other side of the Rio Grande we want consignments of chili con carne, tamales and frijoles, the genuine stuff, none of your American imitations."
---"At the Old Stand," Galveston Daily News [TX] September 26, 1885 (p. 8)
"Chili Con Carne. On one of the plazas, or public squares, [in San Antonio, TX] will be found each evening, a large number of Mexicans with what are called Chili Con Carne stands. They are something after the style of the refreshment stands at the county fairs in Iowa. They remain there until 8 o'clock the next morning, and strange to say there are patrons around them more or less all hours of the night and even when it rains. The prepare Mexican dishes, the chief of which is Chili Con Carne, which means pepper and meat, and the pepper they use is Cayenne. A 'tenderfoot' who dares to take a seat and a dish of this hot and ready lunch will never forget it."
---"A Trip to the South," Evening Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA] March 24, 1887 (p. 2)
". the supper of frijoles and chili con carne couldn't have been better."
---"Long-Range Jack," Webster City Tribune [IA] September 13, 1889 (p. 3)
 "A novel feature of the Alamo and military plazas by lamp light is the numerous tables stationed about them and lit up by huge lanterns, at which whole Mexican families preside, particularly the senoritas vending the peculiar dishes of hotly peppered chilli seasoning, for which they are notoriously famed. I am told they depend upon this trade for their sustenance. The tables are always brought out and spread at sundown, a kettle of coals is set in the background or a fire built upon the hearth, where everything is kept hot and from dusk until daylight, the transient passerby can stop and order tamales, chili con carne, hot coffee and other dishes, which are wonderfully appetising with the stimulating condiments."
---"From the Mountains to the Gulf: Trade, Travels and Trials in Texas," Sandusky Daily Register [OH], February 10, 1890 (p. 2)
Cut or chop into small slices two pounds of beef, add a little chopped tallow and salt; place the above in a covered pot, in which you have previously heated 2 or 3 tablespoons of lard, and steam till about half done; now add two quarts of hot water, and one or two tablespoonfuls of Gebhardt's Eagle Chili Powder, according to strength desired; stir well, then boil slowly until meat is tender."
Use cold beef roast or soup meat; chop fine, add a little salt, 1 level tablespoonful of flour, 1 tablespoonful of lard, and 1 tablespoonful of Gebhardt's Eagle Chili Powder. Then add a cup of warm water, and cook several minutes. Serve with frijoles."
---The Capitol Cookbook, facsimile Austin 1899 edition [State House Press:Austin TX] 1995 (p. 29)
2 pound mutton or beef
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chile pulp or 6 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon salt
Cut the meat into small cubes. Brown onion and garlic, in fat, add meat. Cover and steam thoroughly. Rub tomatoes through colander, add to meat, stir int chile pulp, and cook for 20 minutes. Add seasoning and cook slowly for 2 hours. Cut olives from pits, add and cook for another 1/2 hour. Serve with frijoles. If chile powder is used, mix with 1 tablespoon flour, stir into fat in which onion and garlic were browned, stir until smooth. Then add meat and proceed as above."
---Mexican Cookbook, Erna Fergusson [Rydal Press:Santa Fe NM] 1934 (p. 39)
"Carne en Salsa de Chile Colorado (Meat in Red Chile Sauce)
This dish is known as chle con carne in Texas. Add some beans and they call it chile con carne con frijoles. It is a famous Mexican dish that has been taken and made famous by the Lone Star State. This dish is versatile: It can be varied by adding a can of kidney beans or a can of hominy. It may also be simplified by using chile powder or Mexican red chile sauce instead of the red chiles called for here.
8 cups colorado (red chiles)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup water in which chiles were soaked
2 tablespoons oil
Cook meat in salted water for half and hour and save the broth. While it cooks, remove seeds and stems form chiles, partch in a heavy ungreased skillet for a couple of minutes, taking care not to burn, and soak in warm water to cover until soft; 20 minutes or longer. Grind chiles, garlic, and oregano to consistency of paste (do this in a mortar, or molcajete, as the Mexicans call it, in the food grinder, or, and this is the easy way, in the blender. If the latter method is used, add broth at this time). Add the broth and strain. Brown flour in oil, then gradually add the chile mixture, cumin, and salt. Combine with meat and simmer, covered, until tender, about one hour. Serves 4 to 6."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958
In half an inch of oil or bacon fat, saute until soft: 3 chopped onions, 3 chopped green peppers, and 3 large cloves of finely chopped garlic. In another pan brown 1 or 2 pounds of chopped beef. Drain the fat from the beef and add the beef to the onions and peppers (or add the onions and peppers to the beef). Now add 1 or 2 cans of tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste, and 2 to 8 tablespoons of chili powder. (You can always add more chili powder later, so start off easy). Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, a sprinkling of salt, pepper and paprika, 2 bay leaves, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of basil and a pinch of oregano or some hot chili sauce. Simmer all this for at least half and hour until it is good and thick. Then add 1 or 2 ans of kidney beans. Serve this on rice and top it with some chopped raw onions. (Makes 6 to 8 servings.)"
---Alice's Restaurant Cookbook, Alice May Brock [Random House:New York] 1969 (p. 63) Chimichangas
The popular theory behind the "invention" of the chimichangas (as we know them today) is that a cook either accidentally or purposely dropped a burrito into a deep fat fryer. Most stories place the invention of this food in Arizona (the Tucson area) just after World War II. Is this fact? Or fiction?
Two keys points regarding the history chimichangas: Filled tortillas/fried grain products are thousands of years old and Tex-Mex food went mainstream in America in the 1950s. It is interesting to note that toasted ravioli (popularly attributed to St. Louis, 1947) has a very similar story. After World War II, American tastes expanded and ethnic restauranteurs willing to adapt traditional dishes to accomodate pervading American expectations (fried foods, meats, & sweets) flourished. So did deep fat fryers.
This is what a respected American food historian has to say about chimichangas.
"A deep-fried wheat tortilla stuffed with minced beef, potatoes, and seasonings. The term was long considrerd a nonsense word-a Mexican version of "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig"--reputedly coined in the 1950s in Tucson, Arizona, although Diana Kennedy, in her Cuisines of Mexico (1972) reports that fried burritos in Mexico are called by the similar name chimichangas. But in The Food Lovers Handbook to the Southwest, Dave DeWitt and Mary Jane Wilan noted that Tucson writer Janet Mitchell found that chang'a means female monkey in Spanish and a chimney of the hearth. When put together this becomes, according to Jim Griffith of the Arizona Southwest Folklore Center, a polite version of "unmentionable Mexican expletive that mentions a monkey." According to DeWitt and Wilan , Investigator Mitchell heard tales about the first chimichanga being created when a burro was accidentally knocked into a deep-fat fryer, and the cook exclaimed "Chimichanga!" She had also heard that a baked burro cooked in a bar in Nogales [Arizona] in the 1940s had been called a toasted monkey. The logical conclusion, then, was that the idiom chimichanga means toasted monkey and is an allusion to the golden-brown color of a deep-fried burro'."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 78)
It is interesting to note that El Charro resturant, Tucson, AZ, (one of several places that is credited for inventing the chimichanga) doesn't take credit for inventing the item in their history of the restaurant.
If you need more information, ask your librarian to help you find these articles:
- The great chimichanga quest, Arizona Highways, September 1997 (p. 32+)
- Chimichanga mysteries, Sunset, October 1999 (p. 40+)
Cinco De Mayo celebrates a battle victory against the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862. Mexican Independence Day (September 16th) is celebrated similarly with outdoor fiestas featuring portable foods (think: tacos, gorditas, quesadillas), dancing and music. Cinco de Mayo celebrations first surface in southern California in the early 20th century. By the 1970s, this festive holiday was celebrated in many cities throughout the USA.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates street foods of the common people. There is no specific symbolic dish connected with this holiday. Local fiestas hosted by people of Mexican descent often serve authentic Mexican cuisine. Restaurants and food industry sponsored events generally offer Americanized Mexican cuisine (think: Tex-Mex).
"Cinco de Mayo almost always means a huge fiesta, with the attendant food, music and dancing to attract a multicultural audience, savoring such Mexican culinary delights as gorditas (thick corn tortillas sliced like pita and stuffed with lettuce, tomato, beef, chicken, or cheese) and bueuelos (deep-fried pastries topped with cinnamon and sugar)."
---The Latino Holiday Book, Valerie Menard [Marlow & Co.:New York] 2004 (p. 29-30)
"Mexican independence will be celebrated at Lincoln Park tomorrow with a Cinco de May celebration, featuring Spanish music, dances and games."
---"Mexican Plan Independence Fete Tomorrow," Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1929 (p. A9)
"Cinco de Mayo, one of Mexico's greatest holidays. will be celebrated by Los Angeles' 185,000 Mexicans, it was disclosed yesterday. Major observances will be at the third annual Mexican exposition, sponsored by the Mexican Chamber of Commerce, to open Wednesday afternoon for five days of festivities under canvas at 4800 Brooklyn avenue. Samples of Mexican foods will be distributed."
---"Mexican Plan May 5 Fete," Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1938 (p. 10)
[NOTE: This article does not describe which kinds of foods were served at this event.]
"'Feliz Cinco de Mayo!'. Which means, simply: Happy Fifth of May as the Mexicans would say it. We hope it's a happy day for all of you. But we particularly want to extend our greeting to those of our people of Mexican ancestry and our friends out of the border. According to the folks at Rosarita Mexican Foods, the Fifth of May is a legal national holiday in Mexico. much like our Fourth of July. It celebrates to Battle of Puebla which took place against the French forces that had invaded Mexico in order to impose Austrian Archduke Maximillian and Carlotta as emperor and empress of Mexico. A gallant band of Mexican troops under General Zaragosa defended the city successfully. To the Mexican people, that decisive victory years ago has stood for one hundred and two years as a symbol of the will of our neighbor nation to resist European efforts to dominate Mexico. In a broader sense, that battle signified Mexico's resistance to any foreign intervention. Cinco de Mayo is a day for the inevitable round of speeches. and a day for fun and food. fiesta time. It's a great day for those who love liberty. So, let's get out those sombreros, serapes and maracas and join the fun. Even if you don't want to go dancing in the streets. you can treat your family to a real Mexican feast--United States. style. It's the food that interest us. Just thinking about a table laden with tempting tacos, tasty tamales, enchiladas, crisp tortillas, refried beans, and empanadas makes me want to celebrate. You can whip up a Mexican dinner in no time. since almost all of these delicacies are available at the frozen food cases or among the canned specialty foods at your nearby store. Rosarita, for example, packs a full line of them, modified to our palates. Even though meals of Mexican origin are common in the Southwest, particularly California, Arizona and Texas, about eighty per cent of our people have never tried them. They're growing like Topsy in popularity, though. For example, Rosarita now turns out more than one hundred and fifty thousand tortillas each day."
---"Mexican Dishes for Cinco de Mayo," Chicago Daily Defender, April 30, 1964 (p. 21) [NOTE: This article offers recipe for Enchiladas Con Chile Con Carne, Almendrado, Almendrado Custard Sauce, Tacos ad Ensalada Guacamole, presumably featuring Rosarita products.]
"'What's this, do you know? I'd love to learn how to make it. Doesn't taste like the food in Mexican restaurants, does it?'. 'If they're out of nopales and azado at that table, they're probably all gone. Last year the nopales didn't even last this long.' There was little doubt in anyone's mind about the stellar attraction at the Cinco de Mayo celebration. It was the home-cooked Mexican food, pungent and spicy and, as the lady said, is not like anything in a Mexican restaurant. This was Cinco de Mayo, north-of-the-border style, a second-year repeat project of the mothers with children in Westminster School District's Title 1 compensatory education program. American potluck, augmented by such gringo mainstays as macaroni salad and Boston baked beans. Rather fittingly, it took place at Sigler Park, third oldest public park in Orange County. Westminster also has one of the oldest Mexican-American communities in the county--most Chicano families have lived in the area four or five generations. Mississippi-born and an expert on 'way down South' cookery, Mrs. Easley had been intrigued with Mexican cooking and tried Mexican foods ever since she came west. 'When I came to California I thought cactus plants were weeds and I couldn't understand why so many Mexican-American families cultivated them--right along with the roses--in their gardens. 'Now I know--they're used to make nopales--a very delicious and traditional vegetable dish. You take a few of the smaller leaves and strip off the stickers with a sharp knife, then fry them with garlic and onion.'"
---"Fiesta Serves Culture on a Platter," Marjie Driscoll, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1971 (p. E1)
"Friday will be the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, and the way to celebrate is with a taco, says the National Taco Council. The council is an affiliate of the Mexican Food Institute, which is headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., and dispenses taco lore in connection with National Taco Week, held each year at this time. The taco is the most important use of the tortilla. The best known version of the taco is the crispy taco, a tortilla folded in half, fried and stuffed with meat or other filling. This taco is usually garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, or a combination of these. Another version is the soft taco. The tortilla is not fried but simply folded around a filling or mixture that includes gravy or sauce. The National Taco Council was established in 1964 by Roberto L. Gomez. It goals include creating in Mexican-Americans a greater pride in their own cuisines and enhancing the reputation of Mexican food and culture everywhere."
---"Everything You Wanted to Know About Tacos," Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1972 (p. K9)
"Turn Sunday dinner this weekend into a fiesta in honor of Mexico's colorful holiday, Cinco de Mayo. An extravagant Cinco de Mayo dinner might feature mole poblano, a luxury dish of turkey in a sauce that includes a little chocolate. But mole is complicated. As an alternative, we recommend an informal party built around a buffet of simpler foods. The main dish will be tacos which the guests make themselves. These are not the typical tacos of the franchise stands around Los Angeles, but tacos more like those at stands in Mexico. They are made with tortillas heated until soft, then folded around meat and a choice of other ingredients. There's no deep-frying involved and no need for commercial taco shells so crisp they crack apart and spill their contents. In Mexico, a soft taco often includes nothing more than a little seasoned meat. A stand at the beach in Veracruz dispenses some of the best tacos in Mexico. They contain only slivers of barbecued pork and chopped onion mixed with a little chopped cilantro. Hot sauce is added only upon request. The meat for our Cinco de Mayo tacos is shredded pork, not the ground beef of American tacos. The condiments, set out in separate bowls, include chopped tomato, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and salsa, either bottled or homemade. Chopped green onions can be combined with cilantro in one bowl or the cilantro served separately for those not accustomed to its distinctive flavor. The party starts with margaritas accompanied by Nachos, and appetizer of tortilla chips topped with cheese and sliced chile and heated until the cheese melts. We suggest ceviche or a shrimp cocktail, but in either case the sauce should be seasoned generously with lime juice. If preferred, a green salad could be substituted for this course. Along with the tacos there are refried beans, but flavored in a different way. The beans are mashed and mixed with bacon and onion and spiced with chili powder. It takes something cooling, like Sangria, t refresh palates form this meal. And something even cooler, Helado de Aguacate, or avocado ice cream, is the dessert. Far out? Not if you've spent any time in Mexico where the store sell ice creams made not only with avocado but with corn, cheese and chiles and such fruits as guanabana and mamey."
---"A Cinco de Mayo Menu for Your Very Own Fiesta," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times May 2, 1974 (p. F1)
[Note: This article offers recipes for Nachos, Make-Your-Own Soft Tacos, Spice Frijoles, Sangria and Helado De Aguacate.]
"Parties are in order throughout the weekend to celebrate Mexico's colorful holiday, Cinco de Mayo. Here is a dinner menu tailored for the holiday. The main course is Mole Poblano, the dish invented in Puebla where the battle commemorated by Cinco de may took place. Mole Ponblano is ordinarily made with a variety of dried chiles that must be soaked and ground. This recipe simplifies the procedures by substituting chili powder and canned enchilada sauce. The the other ingredients--tomato, onion, raisins, nuts, sesame seeds,, spices and chocolate--are much they same as they would be in Puebla. Accompaniments include rice dotted with vegetables, a bright avocado-tomato salad and, for dessert, an almond-flavored flan."
---"Border Line: A Dinner Tailored to Cinco de Mayo," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1978 (p. J30)
[NOTES: (1) This article includes recipes for Mole Poblano, Arroz A L Jardinera, Avocado and Tomato Salad and Flan De Almendra (Almond Flan). (2) What is Mole poblano?] Enchiladas
"Enchilada. A Tortilla stuffed with various filling of meat, cheese, chili sauce, chiorzo sausage, and other ingredients. It is a Spanish-American term meaning "filled with chili" and was first printed in America in 1885. An article in American Speech [magazine] in 1949 asserted that anenchilada was "a Mexican dish prepared more for turista [tourists] than for local consumption." The dish has become a staple of Mexican-American restaurants."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 123)
[Your librarian can help you track down the original article if you would like to pursue it.]
"Those foods which derived directly from Mexican traditions were. enchiladas. Enchiladas were identified as "corn fritters allowed to simmer for a moment in chili sauce, and then served hot with a sprinkling of grated cheese and onion." In 1921 Louise Lloyd Lowber described the first process for making enchiladas: first a tortilla was placed in the center of a plate, "then a flood of rich, red chilee sauce from a near-by kettle, a layer of grated cheese, another tortilla, more chile and more cheese, sprinkled between in layer-cake fashion, and the whole topped with a high crown of chopped onions in which nestles an egg, which has been broken a minute into the hot lard. An artistic and cooling garnish of lettuce and behold an enchilada.""
Our research confirms 1971 as first print date for "fajitas," as we know them today. Below please find the Oxford English Dictionary and full text of the original source, courtesy of Barry Popick. We did not find earlier dates in ProQuest Newspapers, Newspaper Archives, or Diana Kennedy's books. Elena Zeyelata is referenced below. This angle might be worth pursuing. According to current food historians, Ninfa's menu item was titled Tacos al Carbon (1973). This was also the title of a popular movie in 1972. Coincidence?
"Fajita. A Tex-Mex dish made from marinated, grilled skirt steak. served in a wheat tortilla. The word derives from the Spanish faja, for "girdle" or "strip" and describes the cut of meat itself. There has been much conjecture as to the fajita's origins, though none has been documented. Grilling skirt steak over mesquite coals would be characteristic of Texas cooking since the days when beef became a dominant meat in the American diet. But the word "fajita" did not appear in print until 1975. In 1984 Homero Recio, a lecturer on animal science at Texas A & M University, obtained a fellowship to study the origins of the item, coming to the conclusion two years later that, ironically, it was his grandfather, a butcher from Premont, Texas, who may have been the first to use the term "fajita" to describe the pieces of skirt steak cooked directly on mesquite coals for family dinners as far back as the 1930s. Recio also hypothesized that the first restaurant to serve fajitas--though under the name "botanzas" (appetizers)--was the Roundup in McAllen, Texas. But Sonny "Fajita King" Falcon claimed to have opened the first "fajita stand" in Kyle, Texas, and in 1978 a "Fajita King" stand in Austin. The popularity of the dish certainly grew after Ninfa Laurenza introduced it on her menu at Ninfa's Restaurant in Houson Texas, on July 13, 1973, but that was under the name "tacos al carbon," and increased still further as a "fajita" after the item was featured at the Austin Hyatt Regency Hotel, which by 1982 was selling thirteen thousand orders per month."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 125)
The Wide World of Texas Cooking/Morton G. Clark, makes no references to fajitas, skirt steaks, or any barbecued recipe approximating the modern fajita.
The Oxford English Dictionary (online) cites this 1971 cookbook for the first print mention of the word "fajita" in the modern culinary sense: "A grilled strip of marinated steak. Usu. in pl.: a dish originating in Mexico or the southern United States, consisting of strips of such meat served with a variety of garnishes or sauces in a soft flour tortilla. Later also more generally: any dish (esp. of chicken) served in this manner. 1971 S. Huddleston Tex-Mex Cookbk. 29 After fajitas have been marinated they may be grilled. If barbecued, heat should be low so meat doesn't dry out."
Barry Popik shares the excerpt referenced above: Tex-Mex Cookbook by Sam Huddleston, part owner of Texas (self-published),1971 Pg. 29:
Until you visit Leonardo’s Fiesta Restaurant in Brownsville you have led a cloistered life. This likeable caballero’s humor will lay you on the floor. Texas literary dudes like Dick Hitt, Frank Tolbert, Leon Hale and Richard West have yodeled praises about Leonardo’s colorful place. Noriega*, a bon vivant, gourmet and traveler, recommends this restaurant as a good place to ward off malnutrition. Leonardo’s fajitas are succulent enough to get one spastic with jubilation. Fajitas are the solid lean meat from beef skirts. If you can’t get beef skirts, use a similar type of lean beef. They should be cut into small strips and marinated overnight. Leonardo suggests any good commercial marinate, but warns that one shouldn’t use more than one-fourth of the amount called for in most instructions. After fajitas have been marinated they may be grilled. If barbecued, heat should be low so meat doesn’t dry out. (p. 30)
This is a do-it-yourself procedure. When fajitas are cooked cut into small slices. Hold a fresh tortilla in hand and fill with meat and Alice Taylor’s Pica de Gallo. Perfect compliments for this divine composition are frijoles and Spanish rice. This inexpensive dish won’t paralyze your food budget."--- SOURCE.
"[Skirt steaks]were stacked a foot deep in a six-foot wide display. But they don't call them skirt steaks in San Antonio--they call the fajitas. From what I was able to learn, it seems fajitas are something of a Southern Texas--or Tex-Mex-phenomenon. They have become popular only in the past few years, but they have become very popular. According to one meat buyer I talked to, "When I put fajitas in the ad, I'll go through between 100,000 and a quarter of a million pounds in a week. They even have fajita cooking contests in Southern Texas. I learned that the champion for the past five years was Red Gomez, a butcher from Brownsville, Texas. I called him to see if he would be willing to share his award-winning recipe with me. He was not."
---"The Butcher: The Skirt Steak is Still in Style," Merle Ellis, Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1982 (p. M23)[NOTE: article includes recipe.]
"The original fajitas were created out of necessity, not a desire to have something new. Ranchers, who usually butchered their own meat, kept the steaks and roasts for themselves and gave their hands what they considered the less desirable cuts, including the so-called skirt steak, which is a section of the diaphragm. The long, narrow, beltlike strip would be marinated overnight in lime juice to tenderize it. The next day it was grilled over mesquite, a cheap, plentiful wood that itself has become a cooking fad. The meat was then cut into thin strips, each diner filling a flour tortilla with it and with pico de gallo, a spicy relish of onions, green chilies, tomatoes and cilantro. Those familiar with Mexican dishes may notice the striking similarity between fajitas and tacos al carbon and carne asada. But tacos al carbon, a fad that preceded fajitas, are made with a better cut of meat that does not need to be marinated and they reach the table already rolled in tortillas. As for carne asada, it is grilled meat and vegetables. The view around here is that fajitas made their way north from the border to Austin about five years ago and began arriving in Dallas two years ago."
---"De Gustibus: Fajitas-In Texas They Love Them," Marian Burros, New York Times, August 4, 1984 (p. 8)
"The hottest dish in town, in more ways than none, is a Texas export called fajitas. For the uninitiated, fajitas. are strips of grilled skirt steak served with flour tortillas, guacamole and salsa and eaten wrapped in the tortillas, taco style. If they don't come to the table sizzling from the grill, they are not fit to be called fajitas. In a trend sense, they are even hotter. The Houston Restaurant Assn. celebrated Cinco de Mayo by staging its First Annual Fajita Meet Sunday. In Pasadena, a restaurant called Manana Mexican Food and Drink of Arroyo parkway has erected a large sign inquiring 'Have you had your fajitas today?'..'They used to be dirt cheap. They used to almost throw them away, like junk,' said Bud Smith, a Texan who grew up in Pharr, near the Mexican border. In Los Angeles, the fajitas trend is so new that the name is virtually unknown outside of restaurants. According to Texan sources, fajitas originated in San Antonio. However, others day the idea came directly from Mexico. Under a different name, arrechera, skirt steak has a venerable history in California. The late Elena Zelayeta, who popularized Mexican cooking in California, included a recipe for Arrechera Adobada in her first cookbook, 'Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes,' published in 1944. 'I find skirt steak to be one of the best flavored, less expensive cuts of meat,' she wrote. In the early version of fajitas, Zelayeta marinated the meat with vinegar, oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, then added tomato sauce and broiled it. By 1958, when 'Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking' was published she dropped the tomato sauce and cooked the meat over the coals instead of under the broiler. Fajitas have crossed the ocean to Paris, where they are served in Tex-Mex restaurants along with flour tortillas shipped from Amsterdam. They are also popular in New York and San Francisco. Beer is a popular accompaniment to fajitas. Welche commented on the meteoric popularity of skirt steak. 'Five or six years ago, you couldn't find skirt steak in the market. They ground it into hamburger."
---"Fajitas," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1985, (p. K1)
Gifted cook, inspirational leader, respected teacher, social motivator, mom. Elena was born to innkeeping parents living in a small Mexico mining town. Food played an important role in Elena's early life. When she was young, the family relocated to San Francisco. Details of these early years unfold like an interesting menu. Elena married and had children. Her eyesight was compromised early on; soon after her second son was born Elena was totally blind. She re-learned her kitchen and took life one day at a time. When Elena's husband passed away unexpectedly, she found strength in her culinary experience and used it to support her young sons. Elena opened a restaurant, taught cooking classes, wrote books, started her own business, partnered with major USA food companies, and hosted a TV cooking show. Characterized by contemporaries as charismatic and fun-loving, Elena's legacy touches every one of us on a deeper human level. Food is the fuel of physical sustenance. Zest for life enables us to savour the meal.
"Guided by her fingertips, Elena Zelayeta moves with assurance through a world of complete darkness. Besides keeping house for her family of four, she teaches cooking, gives lectures and writes on cooking. Baking a cake requires precise knowledge of the exact location of everything in the kitchen. The recipe is memorized and special measuring cups are used, one for one third cup, another for one-fourth cup, another for one-half cup. Eggs are broken into her hand and then the white drains through her spread fingers into the bowl while the yolk remains in the palm of her hand. After ingredients are mixed, the cake is popped into the oven. After two 15-minute radio programs the cakes is done. Her daily routine includes cleaning her own house, darning, cooking and washing. Her delicate sense of touch tells her where there is dirt or dust. Stockings are darned over a china egg, her spools of colored thread being marked in Braille. She know foods by their odors, and spices by taste. In one year., Elena Zelayeta canned 225 quarts of fruits and tomatoes. That year, also, she made her own Christmas presents--50 pounds of Mexican pressed quince paste, cut and wrapped in cellophane. Mrs. Zelayeta believes that it is fear that prevents many accomplishmebnts, and that a handicapped person is slowed down by never defeated."
---"Blind Woman's Courage Makes Her Culinary Artist," Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1944 (p. C5)
"Elena Zelayeta, expert in Mexican cuisine, author and teacher of the blind, returns for a 'comman performance' at the Times College of Wartime Cookery. Since her first appearance here in October, Elena has obtained a guide dog, and Chulita will appear at The Times with her new mistress. Elena, although blind for 10 years, conducts a cooking school in San Francisco in addition to caring for her home and family. She is a charming, vivacious woman who has become popular as a lecturer because of her vivid personality and gayety. Watching her grace and sureness as she goes about preparing delightful Mexican and Spanish food in The Times stage kitchen, it is difficult to believe that she is guided only by her amazing sense of touch. She has a talent for teaching others how to duplicate her masterpieces, and at The Times class wil show how to mix and cook such favorites as tamales, chili rellenos, tacos de gallina, enchiladas and ante. Ante is a delectable custard, cake and fruit dessert concoction."
---"Food Class Again Books Blind Expert," Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1945 (p. B10)
"Elena Zelayeta, well-known for her cookbooks on Mexican food, lrelated of few of her recipes for happy living during a recent luncheon in the Costa Mesa County Club. The 71-year-old blind authoress and food consultant delighted about 100 members of the Friends of the Costa Mesa Library by revealing an ability to be light-hearted about tragedies she has experienced. 'There is little we can do about our problmes,' she explained, 'but I have learned there is a great deal we can do about ourselves.' Mrs. Zelayeta lost her sight when her youngest son was 1 year old. After experiencing a normal amount of self-pity she decided to start serving her family. She discharged a housekeeper and cooked her first meal since the loss of her sight. 'I looked for a scouring pad just before sering the meal and coulnt' find it, she said. 'I put the ladle in the soup and up it came full of scouring pad. I won't tell you what I did next but we're all still alive.' She relearned cooking techniques. She makes sure tortillas don't burn by turning them until they 'smell' done. Mrs. Zelayeta began tacing cooking to other blind adults at the San Francisco Center for the Blind. 'I learned that serving others is living,' she said. 'When we stop doing things for other people we stop existing.' Ten years later her husband was killed in an automobile accident and 'I took inventory of what I could do. It was cooking so I wrote my first cookbook with the intention of buying a seeing eye dog with the profits.' Mrs. Zelayeta was born in Mexico of Spanish descent and all her cookbooks deal with the Mexican food with which she is so familiar. Soon she was asked by the U.S. Government to teach a course in 'practical living' at a Lion's Club camp in Montana. 'I was certain I couldn't do it. I never had a course in psychology.' The she read some and decided. 'Why not? Each of the ones I read disagreed with the others and I thought no one would be able to tell if (what I taught) was right wrong anyway.' But, she was afraid. 'How do you deal with fear?' the woman--who stands about 4 feet 6 inches--asked the group. 'It's done by trusting that your needs will be met if you take the human footsteps to find the hapiness you're seeking.' The happiest person, she said, it the one who entertains the most interesting thoughts. Mrs. Zelayeta is consultant for a large food- seasoning concern and has served as food adviser for a New York restaurant."
---"Blind Cook Tells Happiness Recipes," Anne La Riviere, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1968 (p. H5)
"Elena Zelayeta was blind, but she opened many eyes to the delights for her native Mexican cookery. More than that, she inspired others to overcome a handicap which once had plunged her into months of despair. And she won the affection of countless admirers, to whom she is known simply as Elena. Mrs. Zelayeta died in San Francisco March 31 at the age of 76. Although Elena is gone, her recipes and happy philosophy will live on in her four cookbooks and other writings. Born in in Mexicto City, Elena was raised in the mining town of El Mineral del Oro, where her parents were innkeepers. Her mother and the employes at the inn taught her to cook. The family moved to San Francisco when Elena was a young girl. The came marriage and economic troubles caused by the Depression. When her husband, Lawrence, lost his job as an assistant superintendent in the power department of Bethlehem Steel, Elena sought a way to help. She began by serving lunch in her apartment. And the response was so great, she opened a restaurant in the King George Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Called Elena's Famous Mexican Restaurant, it was a great success bu kept Elena working 16 to 18 hours a day. She had been operated on for a cateract and had suffered a detached retina. And in 1934, shortly before the birth of her second son, Bill, she went blind. Despair, depression and helplessness followed until Elena realized that no one was about to cook and care for her family as she could. Without the aid of Braille implements, she learned how to measure ingredients, how to separate eggs. how to judge the temprature of hot oil by its smell and how to measure cooking time by 15-minute radio intervals. In six months, Elena was again ahppy and functioning. 'If you learn to be useful and keep busy, no handicap can hold you down,' she was once quoted as saying. Elena spoke to high school and college groups and to many organizations. She gave cooking demonstrations and she taught cooking at the San Francisco Center for the Blind. Elena was name California Mother of the Year in 1963. Twenty-three years ago, Elena wnt into the fozen food business. Her son, Lawrence, is now president of the business which is called Elena's Food Specialties Inc. The firm distributes frozen Mexican products to retail and institutional customers in Northern Calfiorina. Elena also served for about 10 years as a consultant to Lawry's Foods Inc. in the development of its Mexican products. Her last appearance in Los Angeles in this capacity was at a Cinco de Mayo party held at Lawry's California Center in 1972."
---"Border Line: Legacy of Elena Zelayeta," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times June 6, 1974 (p. G26)
"Her philosophy will live on in her four cookbooks and other writings. The first book, 'Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes,' was edited by a group of San Francisco home economists and published in 1944. At least half a million copies have been sold. Her second book, 'Elena's Fiesta Recipes,' was published by the Ward Ritchie Press in Los Angeles in 1952. 'Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking' appeared in 1958 with an introduction by the late Helen Evans Brown, an authority on Western cookery. Her last cookbook, 'Elena's favorite Foods California Style,' with an introduction by James Beard, came out in 1967. Elena also wrote an inspirational book, 'Elena's Lessons in Living,' following a stay at a camp for blinded war veterans at the request of the government."
---"Border Line: Legacy of Elena Zelayeta," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times June 6, 1974 (p. G26)
"Elena (everybody calls her that) is the gayest, dearest bundle of energy I have ever known. She is interested in everything and everybody. Her eyes twinkle, as does her laugh. She moves quickly and surely in her kitchen, her tiny hands skillfully preparing the wonderful dishes for which she is so famous. To watch her work, to see her quick smile as she looks at you, to hear her merry chuckle, you'd swear she had not a trouble in the world. Yet Elena is blind. First she learned to conquer fear. The kitchen was full of terror--fire, sharp knives, hot fat, can openers. She had to learn all over again how to handle them."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta, introduction by Helen Evans Brown [Prentice Hall, Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. xv-xviii)
"One is at a loss to describe that quality, except to say that Elena combines unusual warmth with a striking creative instinct. Few people who meet her fail to fall under her spell. Cuisine Zelayeta is distinctive as well as distinguished. It has imagination along with a fine alance of flavor and texture. In a sense, Elena is a traditionalist, but she can also pull an inspired new combination of foods out of the air--and make you feel it is the most authentic dish you ever ate. In shot, she has greatness." ---"Elena's Favorite Foods California Style," Elena Zelayeta, introduction by James Beard [Prentice-Hall, Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1967 (unpaged introduction)
"I hope that the readers of this book will be as happy in using it as I have been in writing it. I was aksed to do it because of the growing interest in Mexican and Spanish food in this country. I hope that I have, in my small way, furthered that interest and that this new book will multiply it. In it I want to accomplish three things: To those who know nothing of Mexican cuisine except what they have heard--that it's always searingly not, exotically and overly spiced, and heavy--I hope to convince that it just isn't so! And to those who know something, but not everything, about South-of-the-Border food, I hope to show that tamales and enchiladas, good as they are, are not the only dishes Mexican cooks know how to prepare. And I wish to convince everyone that Mexican dishes may be served harmoniously with American ones, and that even one Mexican dish can do much to add interest to what might otherwise be a very dull meal. The dishes of Mexico, as well as the methods or preparing them and the names by which they are known, vary from state to state, from region to region. And to make it even more confusing, some Mexican dishes common in the Southwestern part of the United States, are little known in Mexico, and others, though known, bear different names. Thus you may not always find the recipe you want under the name by which you know it. I have tried, wherever possible, to give both names, or at least an accurate enough description so that you will recognize it. As for me, I have been an American for many years. my mother was a wonderful cook, one who knew food well and had a genius for bringing out the best in every dish. It was from her that I learned Spanish cooking. The Mexican cooks who worked at the inn taught me how to prepare their dishes. We came to San Francisco when I was a young girl, and because I. loved to cook, I soon learned how to do it in the manner of my new countrymen. Because of m many years in this country, I have learned what Americans like to eat. These recipes have been adapted to suit the palates of my American friends and my American sons."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall, Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (preface p. vii-xi)
"I love to cook. It's a way I can be creative withhout sight. I can't paint and have no talent for music, but give me a full refrigerator and my pots and pans, and I'm happy as an artist with a new canvas and palette. I raterh regret the great use of convenience foods these days--though I shouldn't, for I make a living selling frozen Mexican foods! But it's spoiled some of the most pleasant parts of homemaking for women. I hope the day never arrives when all food comes ready to pop into the oven."
---Elena's Favorite Foods California Style, Elena Zelayeta, introduction by James Beard [Prentice-Hall, Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1967 (unpaged author's preface)
"Adios, Amigos. May your tables be filled with bounty, your days with sunshine, your hearts with joy. Elena."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] October 1944 (p. 127)
Segment from It's Fun to Eat with Elena, courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, c. 1953.
Elena's Favortie Salad--Crab and Hard-Cooked Egg Garnish
Sliced Summer Squash, Sauteed in Butter
Strawberry Shortcake, California Stule
It's always hard for met to choose my favorite dishes, because I love food--a food--and whatever I'm eating at the moment is the thing I like best. But the dinner salad I'd choose most times would be just crackling-crisp greens. Romaine is one of my favorites, though we have a choice of excellent varieties of lettuce, all good. I often combine two or more. The dressing I use most often is simply olive oil and wine vinegar, a touch of garlic and plenty of salt and pepper. But I like a few extras. Sometimes it's a sprinkling of crab, shrimp or lobster; another time it's slices of hard-cooked egg. Or some tomato or cucumber, or thin rounds of radish. Or a diced avocado. Or orange or grapefruit sections, or halves of crisp Todays. A topping of crisp pork cracklings is also interesting and delicious. So you see, my favorite salad is basic greens, but the costume jewelry gives it a different look from day to day." (p. 49)
---Elena's Favorite Foods California Style, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall, Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1967
FoodTimeline library owns these Zelayeta cookbooks. Happy to share recipes. Let us know what you need.
 Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes (October)
 Elena's Lessons for Living  Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking
 Elena's Favorite Foods California Style
Food historians generally agree avocados originated in Central America. There is much debate regarding the exact origin and subsequent dispersion of this fruit. Notes here:
"The avocado (Persia americana) apparently originated in Central America, where it was cultivated as many as 7,000 years ago. It was grown some 5,000 years ago in Mexico and, but the time of Christopher Columbus, had become a food as far south as Peru, where it is called palta. Legend has it that Hernando Cortes found avocados flourishing around what is now Mexico City in 1519. The English word "avocado" is derived from the Aztec ahuacatl, which the Spaniards passed along transliterated as aguacate."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1725)
"The avocado tree, a member of the laurel family, is native to subtropical America, where it has been cultivated for over 7,000 years, as archaeological remains demonstrate. There are three original races of species. The Mexican type, which was called by the Aztecs ahuacatl. The Guatemalan type. and the West Indian type."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 43)
"We are also told that the avocado is a native of Peru. this is an error. caused because it was in Peru that the Spaniards found it first. But Pizarro entered Peru only in 1527, while th avocado had already been described in 1519 in the Suma de geografia of Margin Fernandex de Encisco, who discovered it near what is now Santa Marta, Colombia. We are told too that avocados were first cultivated in Peru during what is called the 'Formative Period' of Peruvian agriculture, which runs from 650AD to the beginning of our era. however, Garcilaco di la Vega. wrote more plausible that it was brought from Ecuador into the warm valleys near Cuzco by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui, who reigned in the fifteenth century AD. "
Foods America Gave the World, (A Hyatt Verrill, page 168) concludes "We have the ancient pre-Incan races of Peru, the Mayas of Yucatan and Guatemala and the Aztecs of Mexico to thank for having given us this splendid fruit. Whether the pre-Incans, the Mayas or Aztecs were the first to see the possibilities in the development of the aguacate [avocado] will probably never be known, for the fruits are depicted on pottery and sculptures of all these immeasurably ancient races."
"The small, nearly spherical seeds of wild avocados are found in archaeolgical sites in Oazaca and the Tehucan valley of Mexico at dates of 8000 to 7000 B.C. They are seeds of the cold and drought-toleratant upland avocado. tree. By 6000 to 5000 B.C. they were being cultivated in Tehuacan, as shown by the increasing size of the fruit and the change in seed shape from the round wild type to egg-shaped. The two other races are the Guatemalan. and the misnamed West Indian race, which was not found in the West Indies until after the arrival of the Europeans."
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 44-5)
Notes regarding regional dispersion are chronicled here:
"One of the first Europeans to taste the avocado was Fernando de Oviedo, who noticed its external resemblance to a dessert pear, so ate it with cheese; but other Spaniards preferred to add sugar, or salt and pepper. The same applies to the first mention in English, in 1672, by W. Hughes, a royal physician, after a visit to Jamaica. However, despite such favourable comments, the avocado was slow to spread from its native region. For Europeans, it remained for a long time no more than a tropical curiosity; and commercial cultivation in N. America only began in California in the 1870s and in Florida from about 1900."
"The Spaniards ate avocados with sugar, salt, or both, and introduced them into other parts of the Americas as well as other tropical parts of the world. But until the end of World War II, avocados were virtually unknown in Europe."
"The avocado, which originated in Mexico, Guatemala, or South America. its cultivation spread slowly from the New World to the Old, but in recent times it has been grown in nearly all countries where the climate was suitable. Among these may be mentioned India, where it has been cultivated cince 1860, the South Sea Islands, and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea."
---Food Products from Afar, E.H.S. Bailey and Herbert S. Bailey [The Century Co.:New York] 1922 (p. 213-4)
There is also some controversy as to where (in the United States) avocados were first grown for commercial purposes. Waverly Root states "I have no reason for doubting the report that a horticulturist named Henry Perrine first planted avocados in Florida in 1833, but avocado culture did not get un way on a commercial scale in the United States until about 1900, when Florida fruit growers became interested in its possibilities."(Food, page 18). Eating in America: A History, (Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont, page 297) adds: The first person known to have taken it [avocado] seriously was a horticulturist named George B. Cellon, who, circa 1900, learned by experimentation that grafted trees could be induced to perpetuate superior strains of this fruit in Florida. The tree grew well on the slightly sandy soils of Florida, and an avocado industry was launched in that state, an example followed shortly afterwards by California."
This claim is disputed by the California Avocado Commission, which dates their industry beginning in the 1870s. Davidson also cites this information, "Commercial cultivation on N. America only began in California in the 1870s and in Florida from about 1900." (Oxford, page 43). "This fruit was introduced into California at Santa Barbara in 1870, and since that time many orchards of from five to ten acres have been planted," confirms Food Products from Afar, Bailey & Bailey (p. 215).
This avocado based salsa is a gift from Ancient Aztec culinary traditions.
"There is good reason for the popularity of the avocado. The diet of pre-Columbian America was what we would consider low fat. The avocado is one of three fruits that contain large amounts of oil in their flesh. In addition to fat, avocados also contain two or three times as much protein as other fruits, and many vitamins as well. We know little about how avocados, or paltas, as they are called in Peru, were eaten in pre-Columbian America. The one recipe that we may be sure of is the Aztec ahuaca-hulli, or avocado sauce, familiar to all of us today as guacamole. This combination of mashed avocados, with or without a few chopped tomatoes and onions, because the Aztecs used New World onions, and with perhaps some coriander leaves to replace New World coriander. is the pre-Columbian dish most easily accessible to us. If few pre-Columbian recipes for the avocado survive, the European writers more than make up for the lack. The Europeans fell into three camps. There were those who ate their avocados with salt, those who ate them with sugar, and those who liked them both ways."
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 44-45)
Avocado Pears, commonly called 'alligator' are delicious for breakfast or lunch. Quarter them, and remove the pulp with a silver knife; spread it on slices of bread, and season with salt and pepper to taste."
---"The Household," Albert Lea Freeborn County Standard [MN], February 17, 1886 (p. 15)
(Recipe from Mexico.) Mrs. S. Y. Yglesias, 7 Albany Street, Los Angeles.--Take two large alligator pears, peel and remove the stone; cut in one-half-inch cubes, sprinkle with salt, add two tablespoons or more of the best olive oil, with or without a very small piece of onion minced fine to flavor. Put in a salad dish already prepared with crisp lettuce leaves."
"At the Mexican restaurants on Haymarket Square during the entire week, such delicacies as. enchiladas, tamales, chiles, reyones, chili con carne, guacamole and tortillas will be served."
---"Mexican Fiesta For Carnival," San Antonio Light, April 2, 1911 (p. 2)
"Cut three ripe avocado pears in halves, take out the stones, and scrape the pulp from the skin. Add three tomatoes, first removing the skin and hard pieces around the stem end, and half a green pepper pod, cut in fine shreds. Crush and pound the whole to a smooth mixture, then drain off the liquid. To the pulp add a teaspoonful or more of onion juice and a generous teaspoonful of lemon juice or vinegar. Mix thoroughly and serve at once."
---"Avocado Pear Recipes," New York Times, March 17, 1912 (p. X15)
1/2 can green chilis
Peel avocados and mash. Wash the chili, then mash and add to the avocados. Season to taste with salt, oil and vinegar. Wash the grapes and add to the mixture. When procurable, use pomeghranate seeds instead of the grapes."
---"Delicacies from Mexico," Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1934 (p. B18)
Season mashed avocado with lemon, lime or grapefruit juice, and salt. Spread on toast rounds or crackers. Garnish with spring of parsley, or palce thin slice of toamt on toast and cover with spread."
---America's Cook Book, compiled by the Home Inastitute of the New York Herald Tribune [Charles Scribner's Sons:New Ork] 1937 (p. 166)
Guacamole is a Mexican favorite, for which there are as many recipe as there are advocates! It is delicious as an appetizer with corn or potato chips; as a sandwich filling; or served on lettuce as an accompaniment to enchiladas, tamales, or other Mexican dishes. It also makes a good dressing for sliced tomatoes.
1 large ripe tomato, peeled, finely chopped, and drained
1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
1 tablespoon salad oil
2 teaspoons sugar
Blend all ingredients together well. Let you conscience (and your palate) be your guide when it comes to the chili powder."
---Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, edited by Emily Chase [Lane Publishing Co.:San Franciso CA] 1949 (p. 21)
Salad or sauce made basically of avocado, onion and chili. Frequenetly chiffarrones or tiny bits of crisp bacon and grated hard cheese are added as well as tomatoes, mashed or minced very fine. Guacamole is served on a bed of lettuce as a salad or with fried tortilla wedges as an appetizer, or simply as a sauce." (p. 278)
3 large avocados, chopped
1 medium-sized tomato, peeled, chopped
1 tablepsoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Mix all the ingredeints until creamy. Yield: about six servings." (p. 66)
---Good Food from Mexico, Ruth Watt Mulvey & Luisa Maria Alvarez [M. Barrows:New York] 1950
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper
1 medium-sized onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons chile sauce (hot)
Peel the avocados and chop them finely. Mix in oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, cheese and onion. Add green chopped pepper, chile sauce, and coriander. (Leave the avocado pit in the sauce until ready to serve. This prevents the sauce from turning dark.)
---Trader Vic's Kitchen Kibitzer, Victor Bergeron [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1952(p. 188)
Guacamole, well known in the United States, is a versatile dish. It is wonderful as a cocktail dip with tortilla chips (tostaditas) or crackers, but it is also wonderful on lettuce, as an accompaniment for meat or fish, and for such Mexican snacks as tacos and tostadas. And do try filling miniature cream puffs or tart shells with it.
2 medium-sized tomatoes
1 medium-sized onion, or 1 bunch green onions, chopped
Wine vinegar or lemon juice to taste
Mash avocados with a fork, not too smmoth, and add the other ingredients. If you can't serve it at once, cover closely with Saran wrap or foil, as it darkens when exposed to air, but do not try to make it too far ahead of time. Add the salsa Jalapena or chiles to taste, and make sure you use plenty of salt. Vary this dish by adding pomegranate seeds, or fresh cilantro (coriander, or Chinese parsley), chopped peanuts, or bits of crisp bacon, or chicharones. Makes 3 cups of spread."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall Inc.:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. 2-3)
About 1 3/4 to 2 cups
The word guacamole comes from the Nahuatl words ahuacatle (avocado) and molli (a mixture, or concoction). In Mexico it is often eaten at the beginning of the meal with warm tortillas--and that is how one can really savor it--or with tacos, and sour cream, rice and chicarron.
1/4 small onnion, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh coriander
1 very large or 2 medium avocados
1/4 onion, finely chopped
Grind the onion, chilies, coriander, and salt together to a smooth paste.
Cut the avocado in half. Remove the seed and scoop out the flesh. Mash the flesh roughly with the chili paste in the molcajte. Skin, seed and chop the tomato (page 43) and add it, with the chopped onion and coriander, to the guacamole. Mix well and serve immediately.
This is such a beautiful concoction, pale green flecked with the red of the tomato pieces and the darker green of the coriander, and a delight aesthetically if served in a molcajete, where it rightfully belongs. It is so delicate it is best eaten the moment it is made There are many suggestions about keeping it--leave the pit in, adding a little lime juice, not adding the salt until the last, putting it in an airtight container. They all hep a litte, but in no time at all that delicate green has aged. There are many variations--making it with tomataes verdes, or leaving out the tomato altogether, mashing the avocado with just a little chili and salt and a suspicion of lime juice. Practically anything goes, but within certain limits, which does not include the unnecessary additions that I see in most pedestrian cookbooks."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 113-114)
"It is usually accepted that maize was growing in Meosamerica by between 8000 and 5000 B.C. Reliable archaeolgical evidence of domesticated maize dates from as long ago as 3600 B.C. in what is now central Mexico, and it is thought that domestication of the crop first took place--doubtless at a much earlier date--in this general area. To the south, a separate domestication of maize may have been accomplished at about the same time by South American Indians in the central Andes, or the crop may simply have traveled to that area from its point of origin. To the north, however, there seems to be no doubt that domesticated maize arrived much later, with locally adapted varieties appearing in the Eastern Woodlands of North America around A.D. 200 and in the central portion of the continent by about A.D. 600. Indigenous American societies intensively cultivated maize, and it became a principal staple of the Aztecs, the Inca, the Maya, and many groups of North American Indians--especially those in what is now the southeastern United States--for several centuries before the arrival of Europeans. All parts of the plant were used for food and other purposes; the Inca even made maize "beers," known collectively as chica. Christopher Columbus carried maize to Spain, where by 1500 or so it was under cultivation. Before many years had passed, maize was being grown throughout the Iberian and Italian peninsula and had appeared as a garden vegetable in England and central Europe. By the seventeenth century, maize had become an important European field crop and staple food, especially in those areas that now comprise northern Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, in addition to Spain. As the new crop spread across Europe, its New World origins were largely forgotten, but in each locality people at least knew that it came from somewhere else. "Corn" was a generic word meaning simply "grain" in a number of European languages, so that its many aliases acutally identified maize as "foreign grain," and the American usage of "corn" for maize grows out of such terminology--in this case, "corn" is the shortened version of the English term "Indian corn," by which the colonists meant, of course, "Indian grain," or maize. During the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders carried the plant to East Africa and Asia, whereas Arab merchants were probably responsible for its introduction to North Africa. The crop spread rapidly throughout the African continent. In Asia, maize spread along trade routes from the Indian subcontinent, reaching points in China and Southeast Asia by the mid-sixteenth century, and during the eighteenth it was much expanded as a crop in China. From there, it spread to Korea and Japan."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press: Cambridge] Volume Two, 2000 (p. 1805-6)
"The Maya creation legend in the Popul Vuh, describes how man was made from corn. Corn is the most important ingredient in any of the agricultural offerings to the deities and plays a crucial part in the daily diet of the village Maya. The average adult consumes at least to kils of corn each day--more than four pounds. Every part of the plant is put to use. The husk is utilized as the wrappings for tamales and cigarettes. It also serves as a dish or pot scourer and is used to remove stains from laundry. Husks may serve a s afilling for stuffing pillows or other soft objects and even provide a medicinal tea. The stigmas from the maize plant serve as a diuretic. Bakal, the cob, is used as fuel for fires, bottle stoppers and toilet paper. Ground and mixed with honey dregs, the cob becomes forage for the animals. The leaves, green stalks and roots serve as fertilizer. A few Maya still remember how to use their maize kernels to divine the future. This method of foretelling the future is called xixte and means 'to separate the good from the bad.' Xixte was at one time a principal method used by the xmen to determine the outcome of an illness. To ascertain a prognosis, a portion of grains is singled out from a container and arranged in piles of four. A favourable outcome for the problem at hand can be predicted if the piles of four are even in number and the remaining pile of kernels is also even. If both of the piles are split, one even and one uneven, then the outcome of the event is difficult to ascertain. There is another method of using maize to predict the course of an illness. When corn kernels are dropped into a bowl of atole or Saka, floating kernels indicate a favorable prognosis. When corn sinks to the bottom of the bowl, the outcome of the situation appears grim. Ix K'anle'ox, the goddess of corn and mother of all the gods, is associated with the color yellow and the cardinal direction, South."
---Mayan Cooking: Reciepes from the Sun Kingdoms of Mexico, Cherry Hamman [Hippocrene Books:New York]1998 (p. 340-1)
"Maize gods native to Central and South America were far more ancient than Christian saints. For these Maya descendents, the association of maize with blood is as old as the oldest Maya memory, as old as the first planted seed. As their culture evolved, ancient Maya feritlized seeds of corn with the sacrificed blood of their enemies and the blood of their own kings. For the Maya a single kernel of corn is symbolic of what Christians smubolize as the holy cross-the tragic and monstrous truth that the seed of life is death. Today, in the Maya ruins of Palenque in the Yucatan jungle, the Temple of the Foliated Cross reveals in its carvings what Christians call the Tree of Life. For the Maya, it is the World Tree in the shape of a cross, where the crosspiece or branches are formed by leaves and silk-topped ears of corn, each ear a human head. The corn sprouts from a trunk of blood rooted in the head of the Water-Lily Monster that floats on the primal waters of the Underworld. Here out of the monster's mouth a god is born--God K, the Young Lord, the Maize God. So subtle and complex is the ancient Maya language of corn, carved in stone, painted on walls and pottery and screen-folds made of beaten bark, that only in recent years have its mysteries begun to be decoded. We now see that the Maya maize God, like the medieval Christian God, stands at the center of a cluster of images and symbols that evolved slowly but took primary shape in the third to ninth centuries after Christ, a period rich in Christian saints and Maya maize gods. Rich also in Maya script which recorded the history and destiny of a people. Maya hieroglyphs, once we can read them, may help us learn what 'discovery,' 'growth' and 'begining' meant to a civilization built on the symbolic as well as the physical potency of maize. The life cycle of maize was the great metaphor of Maya life, the root of its language, its rituals and its calendar. We now see that the many configurations of the Maize God evolved from the seed of life embodied in the Kan sign. Kan is only one of the twenty named days of the Maya calendar, but wherever the kan sign appears in conjunction with a god, it refers to crops and the powers for good and evil that affect them. Kan is also the syllable wah, which denotes bread, tortilla, tamale. Bowls holding Kan sins may represent offerings of maize, and therefore blood offerings and other precious things. "
---The Story of Corn, Betty Fussell [North Point Press:New York] 1992 (p. 30-34)
- America's First Cuisines/Coe
- Histories of Maize/Benz, Tykot & Stoller
- Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop 1500-2000/McCann
- Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America/Smith
- The Story of Corn/Fussell
The dishes we Americans enjoy today as "Mexican Casserole" (aka "Mexican Lasagne") are hybrid culinary creations featuring Old and New world traditions. Recipes are all over the map. Combinations of native Central American ingredients baked casserole style were documented in the 16th century. Contemporary USA interpretations resemble Italian lasagna: substituting tortillas for pasta, salsa for tomato sauce, beans/ground meat/chilies for protein/flavor/color. Dairy component varies from Spanish to German to TexMex to Southern California to processed American cheddar.
16th century Spanish settlers tell us they witnessed wealthy Ancient Aztec diners consuming casseroles. Then, as today, ingredients varied. Father Bernadino Sahagan listed several casseroles consumed by Aztecs in Montezuma's court. When reading these early accounts, we must remember European chroniclers used words from their native language to describe "foreign" dishes. They also do not share how these dishes were crafted, method (time/temperature) or final presentation.
"The lords also ate many kinds of casseroles;. one kind of casserole of fowl made in their fashion, with red chile and with tomatoes, and ground squash seeds, a dish which is now called pipian; they ate another casserole of fowl made with yellow chile. They ate many kinds of casseroles, and they ate roast birds. They also ate fish in casseroles: one of white fish made with yellow chile and tomatoes, and with ground squash seeds which is very good to eat. They eat another kind of casserole made of frogs and green chile; another kind of casserole of those fish which they call axolotl with yellow chile; they also ate another kind of tadpoles with chiltexpitl. They also ate another casserole of large-winged ants with chiltexpitl. Also another casserole of locusts, and it is very tasty food; they also ate maguey works, with chiltextpitl molli [sauce]; also another casserole of shrimps made with chiltecpitl and tomatoes, and some ground squash seeds. Also another casserole of the kind of fish which they call topotli, made with chiltecpitl as the above said. Another casserole they ate was of large fish, made as above. they ate another casserole made of unripe plums [Spondias spp.], with some little white fish, yellow chile, and tomatoes. (Sahagun 1982: 463-463)."
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 115-116)
"Casseroles. There is an assortment of Mexican budines (puddings), sopas secas ('dry soups' or pastas), taquitos al horno (baked tacos), and chilaquiles, which have one thing in common--they are all cooked the same way. All are tortilla dishes--tortillas filled and rolled, cut into strips, fried, and baked in layers with sauces, cheese, and meat or vegetable fillings. They are all rather concentrated, some of them rather rich. Some could be served with just a salad, a meal in themselves, while others would make a good accompaniment to plainly cooked meats, poultry or fish."
---The Tortilla Book, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1975 (p. 72) [NOTE: This book offers recipes for Tortilla Casserole (a 'dry soup' in tomato soup), Tortilla and Vegetable Casserole, Bakes Tacos Lagunera, Torta Moctezuma (aka Moctezuma pie, budin Aztexa, and torta Huateca), Sweet Red Pepper Casserole.]
"The word chilaquiles comes from chil-a-quiltitl, meaning 'herbs or greens in chili broth'--colloquially, 'a broken-up old sombrero.' It is, in fact, one of the many recipes devised to use up stale tortillas. The purists say that the tortillas must be torn up into large pieces, but the dish is easier to serve and eat if smaller. Like so many other recipes in Mexico, every cook has her own way of preparing them."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 67)
Our survey of USA sources confirms a wide variety of interpretations titled "Mexican Casserole." Dishes range from traditionally inspired to quickie Americanized creations featuring Mexican staples chilies and tortillas.
1/3 cup grated American cheese
4 tablespoons parsley
1/4 cup bacon fat
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Cut meat into cubes. Place bacon fat in frying pan and cook meat until golden brown. Mince vegetables. Add meat, noodles, and cheese and mix well. Place in a casserole, pour tomato sauce over it and bake 1 1/2 hour s in a moderate oven."
---"Pot Pie Proves Excellent Single Dish for Hot Day," San Antonio Light [TX], June 5, 1925 (p. 27)
1 pound Monterey cream cheese
Fry whole tortillas lightly in oil. As each is fried, set aside. Skin and crumble chorizos and fry; set aside. Cube Monterey cheese and slice hard-cooked eggs. When this is done, make sauce as follows:
3 cups tomato puree
1 teaspoon oregano
Fry onion in oil.; add tomato puree (solid-pack canned tomatoes which have been well mashed). Season with oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper. If chiles are being used, chop and add at this time. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. When sauce is done, place 1 tortilla in casserole and on it spread chorizo, grated cheese, Monterey cheese, 2 or 3 tablespoons of the sauce and rings of hard-cooked eggs. Repeat this procedure until all tortillas have been put into casserole; sprinkle remaining chorizos and Monterey cheese over all, and pour on remaining sauce. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 30 to 45 minutes. To serve, cut as you would a cake. Serve with refried beans."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 38)
"Chilaquiles de Jocoqui (Sour Cream and Tortilla Casserole)
This is another versatile dish. I sometimes vary it by adding fried chorizo, another time, ripe olives. And once in awhile I make it with enchilada sauce instead of this one.
2 tablespoons oil
1 (No. 2 1/2) can solid-pack tomatoes, chopped Salda Jalapena, or chile powder, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 point sour cream
Fry tortillas lightly and drain on absorbent paper. For the sauce, wilt onion in hot oil; add tomatoes, salsa Japalena, oregano, and salt. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside. Butter a 2-quart casserole and place alternately layers of tortillas, sauce, Parmesan or Romano cheese, Monterey cheese, and sour cream. Repeat until all ingredients have been used, ending with a layer of sour cream. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 30 to 40 minutes. During the last ten minutes of baking, sprinkle with grated American cheese. Serves 6 to 8."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. 142-143)
"A Mexican Casserole Costs Little. 'This casserole is an American concept of a Mexican-type dish,' writes Marcia B. Stover. 'It's ideal for the budget-minded homemaker.'
1 pt. cottage cheese
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
Blend cottage cheese, sour cream and tomato sauce in a shallow dish. Cut chiles into 1/4-in. strips. Place tortillas on a cooky sheet and heat in 500-deg. oven just long enough so they will fold easily, about 3 to 5 min. Working quickly, dip hot tortillas into tomato mixture, place two strips of chiles on each, and fold as you would an enchilada. Place a layer of tortillas in 7 X 11-in. baking pan. Sprinkle generously with shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheese and top with some of the tomato mixture. Repeat with tortillas, making two layers in pan, using remaining cheese and sauce for top. Cover pan and bake at 350 deg. 1 hour. Makes 4 to 6 servings."
---"My Best Recipe," Marcia B. Stover, Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1966 (p. F18)
Traditional mole is a complicated concoction composed with "New World" ingredients. It added flavor, texture, and color to several casserole-type dishes.
"The sauce dishes or casseroles contained a wide sample of the animal kingdom, as well as some purely vegetarian mixtures. The lords also ate many kinds of casseroles;. one kind of casserole of fowl made in their fashion, with red chile and with tomatoes, and ground squash seeds, a dish which is now called pipian; they ate another casserole of fowl made with yellow chile. They ate many kinds of chile stews. one kind was made of yellow chile, another kind of chimolli (sauce with chile) was made of chiltecpitl (a kind of chile) and tomatoes; another kind of chilmolli was made of yellow chile and tomatoes'."
---America's First Cuisines, [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 115)
[NOTE: this book has much more information than can be paraphrased. If you need additional details about early American foods ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
"Mole. The most famous Mexican sauce, takes its name from moli, a Nahuatl word meaning mixture or concoction; and it is indeed a mixture of many ingredients. The constant factor among the numerous different versions is the starring role played by chili peppers and the fact that the mixture is always cooked." ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 511)
Mole is a tasty component of many Central American dishes. While this food is ancient and traditional, some variations are not. Mole poblano de guajolote(turkey in mole poblano), combining chocolate with chili, is a classic example. Despite the rumors, this is not an ancient Aztec dish. The Aztecs used chocolate for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes. They did not cook with it. Mole poblano is now traditionally associated with Mexican Christmas traditions, thanks to the Spanish.
"The idea of using chocolate as a flavoring in cook food would have been horrifying to the Aztecs--just as Christians could not conceive of using communion wine to make, say, coq au vin. In all of the pages of Sahagun that deal with Aztec cuisine and with chocolate, there is not a hint that it ever entered into an Aztec dish. Yet today many food writers and gourmets consider one particular dish, the famous pavo or mole poblano, which contains chocolate , to represent the pinnacle of Mexican cooking tradition. [mole poblano] has no Aztec foundations. regardless of what food writers may say. Its true, creolized and Hispanicized nature is given away by. the list of ingredients from an authentic recipe. Ten of the 19 ingredients are Old World."
---True History of Chocolate, Sophie D. Coe & Michael D. Coe [Thames & Hudson:London] 2nd edition 2007 (p. 214-215)
[NOTE: this book offers much more information than can be paraphrased here. Your librarian can help you obtain a copy.]
"Mole poblano de guajolote. or Pabo in mole poblano. is a dish of some antiquity and has achieved some fame for the inclusion of bitter chocolate in the sauce, although the quantity is small and the effect not separably discernable. Some have thought that the dish was made, with chocolate already added, in pre-Columbian times, but the lack of evidence for pre-Columbian use of chocolate as an ingredient in any food dish tells against this conclusively; and indeed the attitude of the Aztecs to chocolate was such that they would have been no more likely to use it in cooking than Spaniards would have been to cook with communion wine. Quite apart from this particular question, it is doubtful whether mole poblano dates as far back as the 17th century, as has been generally believed."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 511)
"The wild turkey or guajalote is indigenious to Mexico and the New World. For centuries before the Spaniards arrived, the nobility ate roasted turkey, quail, and casseroles of turkey prepared with chilies, tomatoes and ground pumpkin seeds. The turkey is still one of the most important foods in Yucatan. No special festival is compelte without mole poblano de guajolote. It is prepared with loving care, and even today, more often than not, it is the one dish that brinds out the metate: chilies, spices, nuts, seeds, and tortillas are all ground on it. It would be impossible to say just how many versions there are; every cook from the smallest hamlet to the grandest city home has her own specials touch--a vew more mulatos here, less anchos, or a touch of chipotle cooke with the turkey; some insist on onion, others won't tolerate it. Many cooks in Puebla itself insist on toasting the chilies, often mulatos only, over an open fire and grinding them dry. The world mole comes from the Nahuatl word molli, meaning "concoction." The majority of people respond, when mole is mentioned, with "Oh yes, I know-that chocolate sauce. I wouldn't like it." Well, it isn't a chocolate sauce. One little piece of chocolate (and in Mexico we used to grind toasted cacao beans for the mole) goes into a large casserole full of rich dark-brown and russett chiles. There are many stories attached to its beginnings but they all agree that the mole was born in one of the convents in the city of Puebla de los Angeles. The most repeated version. it that Sr Andrea, sister superior of the Santa Rosa Convent, wished to honor the Archbishop for having a convent especially constructed for her order; trying to blend the ingredients of the New World with those of the old, she created mole poblano. Yet another story goes that the Viceroy, Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, was visiting Puebla. This time it was Fray Pascual who was preparing the banquet at the convent where he was going to eat. Turkeys were cooking in cazuelas on the fire; as Fray Pascual, scolding his assistants for their untidiness, gathered up all the spices they had been using, and putting them together onto a tray, a sudden gust of wind swept across the kitchen and they spilled over the cazauelas."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy, [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 199-200) [NOTE: this book contains recipes for other moles with history notes.]
Recommended reading: Que vivan los tamales!/Jeffrey M. Pilcher. best source for tracing the role of Mole Poblano within the context Mexican (social/political/culinary) culture.
Nachos, as we know them today, descend from traditional Central American culinary traditions. Tortillas, versatile and cheap, provided the base for daily meals in endless combinations. What makes Nachos different? It has an inventor: Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya and a specific creation story. In sum: The year? 1943. The place? Piedra Negra. For whom? ladies who lunch. We're not here to judge. Based on our survey of historic sources, we choose to celebrate the story and the honor the man. We're also asking for your help with obtaining the original recipe.
The "original account" is generally adheres to contemporary legend, except: it provides an earlier date (1940), a different name for the restaurant (Victory Club), another job title for the inventor (executive chef) and an alternative spelling of the inventor's name (Amaya). Presumably, over time, the story was corrected.
"One afternoon in 1940, four Eagle Pass ladies walked into the Victory Club dining room looking for something new in cocktail hour snacks. Always ready to help, and to try his hand at anything were seated at their table by smiling, friendly Ignacio (Nacho) Amaya. Their request went something like this: 'Nacho, we're tired of the usual type snacks with our drinks. Do you think you could whip up something new? Something different?' Always ready to help--and to try his hand at anything--'Nacho' Amaya smiled and told the ladies he would see what could be done. 'Honestly,' he admitted to us recently over a bottle of cold Bohemia, 'I didn't have the least idea what I was going to try. But I went into the kitchen, looked around and started groping for an idea. I saw a bowl of freshly fried pieces of tortilla; then I figured some grated cheese on them might be all right. Well, I got the cheese and began sprinkling the tortilla pieces with it. About this time, I got the idea to put some jalapeno strips atop the cheese. I got the japlapeno; l and as I finished putting the strips on the cheese, I decdied it would be a good idea to put the whole thing into the oven to melt the cheese.' 'Nacho' Amaya was a bit timorous when he set is concoction on the table before the ladies from Eagle Pass. He muttered something about hoping they liked it and swiftly sought and exit. Before he could hide, however, the ladies were clamoring for him. 'Make us some more of those wonderful snacks,' they demanded. Whenb 'Nacho brought out the second batch, one of the ladies asked: 'What do you call these snacks?' 'Well,' stammered Amaya, 'I guess we can just call them 'Nacho's Special.' He figured he never would hear of the concoction again. He was wrong. Next day, when he came to work, waiters at the Victor Club asked 'How in the heck do you make 'Nacho's Specials?' We had calls for them last night but didn't know what they were!' No sooner had he pased on the secret than Gaspar Slaazar, a club waiter, got a call for the 'nachos.' It's been that way all up and down the border now for 14 years. Fame of the delicious 'nachos' has spread from the bouth of the Rio Grande to Jurarez. The 'nacho's' fans have carried the reicpe up and down the Rio and into Mexico. Other spots along the gorder have claimed the 'Nacho's' as a native article, but Ignacio Amaya says, definately, he 'discovered' them here. The 'Nacho's' inventor is a native of Chihauhua; has lived in Piedras Negras 18 years. He lived in Texas several years, working for the San Antonio Standard-Times. In 1929-1930 he worked at Mrs. Crosby's famous restaurant in Acuna, across from Del Rio; then went to Cafe Apolo in Torreon. For the past 16 years, he's been with the Victory Club where. today, he is 'jefe de cocina'--a title we know as 'executive chef.' As 'Jefe de cocina,' however, 'Nacho' Amaya's duties today also include greeting and chatting with his hundreds of amigos from both sides of the Rio Grande; and to make sure they are comfortable, getting good service, and having a good time."
---"Nacho's? Natch!," Clarence J. LaRoche, San Antonio Express and San Antonio News, May 23, 1954 (p. 3H)
[1969: updated story reveals additional details about the man behind the invention]
"It's been almost 30 years since Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya whipped up his first 'Nachos Especials,' and he has yet to realize a single penny from his invention of the popular appetizer known from Texas to Saudi Arabia. 'The only man who's making money on Nachos (as they are popularly known) is the man who's selling cheese and jalepnos,' Anaya smiles and says. At 74, the diminutive Anaya could pass for a man little more than half his age, despite the fact he has been waiting tables since 1918. Born in 1895 in Chihauhua, Mexico, Anaya was raised by a foster mother after his parents died 'when I was real young.' It as in his younger days that Anaya began to get the idea for his Nachos. 'This woman who raised me used to feed me quesadilas,' Anaya said, then when time to explain that quesadilas are folded tortillas with melted cheese inside. With this in his mind, the stage is set for mid 1943 when Anaya was a waiter at the old Moderno Restaurant which has since been torn down and replaced with a swank, new Moderno. 'There four ladies were sitting at a table drinking chicos then relates how they asked for some fried tortillas after about four rounds of drinks. 'Well, since no one was in the kitchen for about an hour, I went in, sliced a tortilla in four pieces, put some cheese and a slice of jalapeno on top and stuck it in the oven for a few minutes,' Anaya said. After being served the new treat, the women commented on how tasty they were and asked 'What do you call them?' On the spur of the moment, Anaya replied, 'Just call them Nacho's Especial,' and one of the world's top appetizers was born. Since then, the apostrophe has long been dropped form the word 'Nacho's' on menus, depriving Anaya of even that bit of possessive fame. Today, many restaurants have the simple listing, 'nachos,' on their menu, although admittedly, there are several variations. Some cooks add a bit of lettuce and tomato salad, transferring Nachos into miniature taco-like creations, while others begin with a base of refried beans. But, a true Nacho today is as it as in the beginning. a tortilla quarter, Wisconsin cheese and a sliver of jalapeno pepper. Once, a lawyer friend offered to take Anaya to San Antonio to silent a patent on his creation, but Anaya refused. 'I didn't' go with him or want to do it,' Anaya explained, 'I thought it would be too much trouble, but of course then I didn't know how popular they were going to become.' Spread of the creation has been mostly by world-of-mouth, Anaya explains. After someone would eat a platter of Nachos in the old Moderno or old Victory Club, where Anaya worked until 1961, he would pass the simple recipe on in restaurants where he lived or traveled. 'Now," Anaya says, 'They've got them as far away as Chicago and Saudi Arabia. 'And,' he says,' It's been the biggest boost for the jalapeno business there ever was. at the Morderno they used to use maybe one gallon of jalpenos per week, now they use six or seven cases (six gallons per case) per week. Since Nov. 18, 1961, he has operated Nacho's Restaurant two miles from Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras International Bridge. And, while Anaya admits that it hasn't been particularly profitable, he says it beats waiting tables at the equivalent of about 70 cents per day plus tips which was the going rate when he began at the old Moderna. despite the hardships, Anaya and his wife (who died of cancer in 1964) raised nine children. and one son now works as a waiter at the new Moderna carrying on the Anaya tradition. Even though, as Anaya says, 'It's too late to make the millions. maybe not millions. but a lot of money. I might once have made,' he still smiles about it. 'If you'll just send me a bunch of customers, 'I'll be happy, he remarked as he set down a platter of sizzling 'Nachos Especial.'"
---"'Nacho' Inventor Hasn't Profited," Bill Salter, San Antonio Express and News [TX], June 15, 1969 (p. 97)
[NOTE: This article was published in several regional USA newspapers.] ? ?
"Some rise to greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them. For Ignacio Anaya, greatness came with cheese and jalapenos. For out of necessity and the desire to please, Anaya invented the nacho. In a border town restaurant in 1943. His son said so. So does the government tourism office in the Mexican state of Coahuilua. By formal decree, Saturday was International Day of the nacho and a bronze plaque was installed in Anaya's honor. Then, the First Annual Nacho Cook-Off was held in Piedras Negras' main plaza. Over the years, the singular combination of fried corn chips, cheese and jalapenos has blossomed into a culinary staple in the United States. it. But the details of how it all started have been shrouded in time. For some of us, anyway. 'My father invented the nacho in 1943,' said Ignacio Anaya Jr., a retired banker in the cross-border town of Eagle Pass. It was the senior Anaya, maitre d' at El Moderno, had welcomed a group of U.S. Army officers' wives from Eagle Pass at the restaurant, the younger Anaya said. They wanted some 'hotanas' or snacks. Anaya rummaged in the kitchen, grabbed some tostadas (fried corn chips), shredded some cheese and heated them in the oven, topping each chip with a slice jalapeno. they were. a hit. 'By the time my father returned with a second platter, the ladies had named the dish 'Nacho's Special,' Anaya said. 'That is the Spanish nickname for Ignacio.'. 'I am very proud of the recognition being paid my father. it was not something he did for fame, but simply to serve his guests.'. David Garcia, vice president of B. Martinez and Sons. in San Antonio doesn't want to rain on Anaya's parade. But he finds the concept of inventing the nacho a little hard to swallow. 'I've heard this story before, about the nacho being invented in Piedras Negras. But in my opinion, this is just a very old custom along the border, melting cheese on fried tortilla chils. It's like saying someone invented the fajita. It's just something people have been doing all their lives.' Garcia brings a certain historical perspective to his opinions. his firm has been making tortillas, tamales and other Mexican food products in San Antonio since 1895. Like the invention of the margarita, the convergence of the nacho as a cultural icon is typical of folkloric events, said Dr. Jay Ann Cozz, a writer and authority on food and folklore in Austin. 'The actual event of creation was an isolated event. The producer was just trying to please customers. but the cultural importance is attached later, usually by a consumer who is searching for cultural authenticity, the real thing.'. Bob Guildry recalls eating something similar to the nacho as a boy growing up in El Paso during World War II. Except it was a corn tortilla, fried whole, and covered with cheese and peppers. And it's called a quesadilla. Guidry. doesn't remember seeing the more bite-size nacho until he returned to El Paso in the 1950s. 'Maybe this guy in Piendras Negras came up with the idea of cutting the chips into smaller pieces. That's pretty imaginative. But it doesn't really matter. Nachos are popular because they taste good. not because where they were invented.' In Piedras Negras, they might argue that point. Especially at Restaurant El Moderno, which sits where it has since 1936, just across from the central market, only a few bolcks from the International Bridge. [the] chief bartender and impromptu historian, confirms that this is the birthplace of the nacho. Back in Eagle Pass, the inventor's son recalls how he and his brothers sought to patent the nacho in the early 1960s, but learned that the dish had already fallen into the public domain. 'It did not bother my father. He opened his own restaurant in Piendras Negras and worked there until he died in 1975 at age 81.'"
---"South of the border origins of Nachos debated," The Brownsville Herald [TX], October 24, 1995 (p. 2) ?
"According to nacho lore, it all began in 1943, when several military wives at Fort Duncan in Eagle Pass, Texas, decided to go on a toot in Mexico. This did not require much pluck. Eagle Pass is just a short bridge over the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras in the state of Coahuila. In Piedras Negras (black stones, from the coal once mined there), they took shelter in the Victory Club, demanding food as well as drink. The only employee present, the maitre d', grabbed some fried corn tortilla chips from the bar, melted Wisconsin yellow cheese on top of them and then set a slice of canned jalapeno peppers on each snack. This Escoffier of la frontera was Ignacio Anaya, nicknamed Nacho. The Army brides gobbled his improvisation up and spread the word about the dish their leader Mamie had dubbed Nacho's especiales. Eventually people all over southern Texas were calling them nachos. The evidence for this tale is less solid than what we might demand to prove that, say, George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. The most convincing account comes from Ignacio Anaya Jr., not a disinterested party, in an interview in the San Antonio Express-News in 2002. Long before then, the Victory Club restaurant had closed and Nacho Sr. had moved to the Moderno."
---"Cooking & Dining -- Snack Food: The Search For the Perfect Nacho," Raymond Sokolov, Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2006 (p. 1)
Mr. Anaya's original 1954 account describes his ingredients and method. Some food historians mention the recipe first appeared a church cookbook published that year. Coincidence? Maybe.
". an article by Dotty Griffith, food editor of the Dallas Morning News. says a reader, Eleanor H. Magnuson, sent her a copy of St. Anne's Cookbook, published in 1954 by the Church of the Redeemer in Eagle Pass, just across the border from Piedras Negras. The book contains an advertisement for the Victory Club, which called itself the birthplace of 'Nacho Specials.'."
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 41)
We are convinced, based on Ms. Anderson's research, the cookbook exists. Unfortunately, none of "original" recipe(s) published on the Internet provide a page number or scanned copy of the page. Without that evidence, we are not satisfied they are the "real" thing. We are looking for a print copy of the original text. If you can help, please let us know!
The origins of traditional foods such as quesadillas cannot usually be traced to a particular year or person. They are foods that evolved because the ingredients and technology needed to cook them were readily available. The history of quesadillas begins with the story of corn and the cooking of tortillas:
"Tortilla. a round, thin unleavened bread made from ground maize, a basic food of Mesoamerica. It is not known how many millennia this has been a staple; but when the conquistadores arrived in the New World in the late 15th century, they discovered that the inhabitants made flat corn breads. The native Nahuatl name for these was tlaxcalli and the Spanish gave them the name tortilla. The art of tortilla-making was highly developed by the native Mesoamericans; 17th century Spanish observed, Francisco Hernandez, remarked on the fine, almost transparent tortillas prepared for important people. Fresh tortillas are eaten as bread, used as plate and spoon, or filled to make composite dishes such as tacos and enchiladas. A quesadilla is a 'turnover' made by folding a fresh tortilla in half around a simple filling such as cheese, epazote (a pungent herb), and pepper, or potatoes and chorizo, and deep frying it. "
"Queso. the Spanish word for 'cheese', forms part of some names of cheese of Spain and Latin America."
"Quesadillas are one of the Mexicans' favorite simple snacks. They are, in fact, uncooked tortillas stuffed with one of various fillings and folded over to make a "turnover." They are then toasted on a hot griddle or fried until golden. In many parts of Mexico they are filled with strips of Chihuahua cheese, which melts and "strings" nicely--a Mexican requirement. the farther south one goes the more complicated they become. For instance, in central Mexico the simplest ones are filled with some of the braided Oaxaca cheese, a few fresh leaves of epazote and strips of peeled chile poblano. Potato and chorizo filling--that used for tacos. --is also a favorite version, while the most highly esteemed of all are those of sauteed squash blossoms (flor de calabaza) or the ambrosial fungus that grows on the corn blossoms (huitlachoche), both of which are at their best during the rainy months of summer and early fall."
--The Tortilla Book, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1975 -(p. 106)
As such, quesadillas are a blend of Old World tradition and New World foods. Recipes for turnover-type foods (aka portable filled pastries, both sweet and savory) were popular fare in Medieval Spain. About portable pies. Chicken (chicken quesadillas) is also an Old World food, introduced to Mexico by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century. New World fowl included turkey, strikingly similar in flavor and composition. The turkey, however, was not used for simple snacks. It was saved for special holidays. Cheese (queso/quesa) is also an Old World food.
Take fresh tortillas (bought in a Mexican store), place generous piece of Monterey cream cheese (or American cheese) in the center, and fold it over as you would a turnover. Pin top with toothpicks to hold. Place in hot, ungreased skillet and cook lightly, turing often until cheese is melted. Delicious with refried beans."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] October 1944 (p. 35)
Although food historians generally agree that new world beans played an important culinary role dating back to ancient times, the history behind refried beans seems to be a modern matter of semantic confusion.
"Refried beans. A Mexican-American dish of mashed cooked pinto beans, usually served as a side dish or as a filling for various preparations. The term "refried" is actually a mistranslation from the Mexican "frijoles refritos," which means "well-fried beans," a distinction first mentioned in Erna Fergusson's Mexican Cookbook (1934), but "refried" has remained in common parlance with regard to this dish."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman] 1999 (p. 268)
"Refried beans is the misleading translation of a term very familiar in Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America; frijoles refritos. This refers to beans which have first been cooked in water and are subsequenty fried. There is no question of their being fried twice, i.e. literally refried. Diana Kennedy (1986) has explained the matter: "Several people have asked me why, when the beans are fried, they are called refried. Nobody I asked in Mexico seemed to know until quite suddenly it dawned on me. The Mexicans have a habit a qualifying a word to emphasize the meaning by adding the prefix re-. They will get the oil very hot (requemar), or something will be very good (retebien). Thus refrito beans are well fried, which they certainly are, since they are fried until they are almost dry.""
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 657)
"During all my years of living in Mexico and teaching Mexican cooking in New York, I (like everyone else) have thought of frijoles refritos as refried beans. Several people have asked me why, when the beans are fried, they are called refried. Nobody I asked in Mexico seemed to know until quite suddenly it dawned on me. The Mexicans have a habit of qualifying a word to emphasize the meaning by adding the prefix re-. They will get the oil very hot (requemar), or something will be very good (retebien). Thus refrito means well fried, which they certainly are, since they are fried until they are almost dry. I am glad to day that Santamaria in his Diccionario de Mexicanismos bears this out, but I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long for the light to dawn."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Dinana Kennedy [Harper Row:New York] 1972 (p. 282)
"Para frijoles refritos (Refried beans)
These are stewed with more lard and good broth. Add sliced or grated cheese when served."
---Encarnacion's Kidtchen: Mexican Recipes from Nineteenth-Century California, Encarnacion Pinedo, edited and translated by Dan Strehl [University of California Press:Berkeley CA] 2003 (p. 132)
Left over beans lose their flavor unless fat is added when reheated. If left over beans have not been mashed, mash them; melt enough fat (1 T. For every cup) and fry beans in it. A little grated cheese added will give them a special flavor."
---The Good Life: New Mexico Traditions and Food, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert, 2nd edition [Museum of New Mexico Press:Santa Fe NM] 1982 (p. 63)
[NOTE: This book notes the pinto (spotted) bean and the bolita (round light brown bean) are the varieties widely used in New Mexico.] Salsa
The origins of salsa (combination of chilies, tomatoes and other spices) can be traced to the Ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. Salsa recipes evolved according to place and taste.
". the Indians, tens of centuries ago, cultivated the tomato and the pepper plants and improved and developed them until the tiny hot and pungent berries of the latter had been transformed into a number of varieties of peppery fruits, and the little red sourish berries of the other had become big luscious scarlet tomatoes. Long centuries before Columbus landed on the shores of the New World, the tomato and the peppers had spread from the land of the Incas to Central America and Mexico where they were cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs who called the tomato "tomatl," which the Spaniards under Cortez corrupted to the name by which the fruit is know to us today. Very probably they [chilies] are of real value and aid in warding off fevers and other maladies, as the natives claim, for they stimulate the digestive organs, especially the liver."
---Foods America Gave the World, A Hyatt Verrill (p. 34-5; 37)
"The Spanish first encountered the tomato after their conquest of Mexico in 1519-1521, yet few references to tomatoes have been located in Spanish colonial documents. Sahagun was the first European to make written note of "tomates." According to Sahagun, Aztec lords combined them with chile peppers and ground squash seeds and consumed them mainly as a condiment served on turkey, venison, lobster, and fish. This combination was subsequently called "salsa" by Alonso de Molina in 1571."
---Souper Tomatoes: The Story of America's Favorite Food, Andrew F.Smith (p. 26-7)
"Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce--an indication of this condiment's origin in Spanish-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere, particularly Mexico and the countries of Central America. In these countries, the word "salsa" encompasses a wide range of culinary concoctions, from sauces that are smooth, cooked, and served warm or hot, to condiments that are chunky, raw, and served at room temperature. In the United States, the consumptino of condiment salsas began to expand beyond the local Hispanic communities during the 1940s, initially in those parts of the American Southwest wehre Mexican food was traditionally eaten. The msot common type of salsa was--and still is--a version of Mexican salsa cruda (raw sauce), also known as salsa fresca (fresh sauce) or salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce), made with chopped tomatoes, onions, and fresh green jalapeno or serrano peppers. Salsa's popularity nationwide is generally attributed to Americans' increasing consumption of hot-and-spicy foods during the second half of the twentieth century. Salsa are also perceived as healthy foods, because many of them are low in calories, high in fiber, and full of vitamins."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 389)
"In Texas, salsa manufacturing began in 1947. dave and Margaret Pace operated a small food-packing operation in the back of their. store in San Antonio. They were manufacturing syrups, salad dressings, and jellies and sold their products door-to-door. Dave, by trial and error, began to make picante sauce and test it on his friends. By 1992, the top eight salsa manufacturers were Pace, Old El Paso, Frito-Lay, Chi-Chi's, La Victoria, Ortego Herdez, and Newman's Own. "
---The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia, Dave DeWitt [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 259-60)
What is the oldest known recipe for salsa in existence?
Excellent question with no simple answer. Food historians generally agree New World style salsas (spicy mashed chili/tomato combinations) originated in Aztec Central America. Accurate/authentic evidence & early recipes is sketchy because this cuisine was first recorded in print by Spanish scholars (missionaries, mostly). Father Sahagun recorded a salsa-type food (no recipe) in 1529. First mention of salsa in recipe in USA print is even more challenging.
Our survey of early "salsa" recipes in USA cookbooks and newspapers reveals these interesting points:
(1) The term "salsa" in USA print has been used over the years to denote several items, including Italian-style tomato sauce.
(2) Some early Mexican-style "salsa" recipes were given "Americanized" names, as in "Sauce for Tostatas."
(3) Salsa (Mexican style) crossed the USA print border in the early 20th century, starting with bordering states (Texas, California).
(4) 1930s/1940s mainstream print happens. The concept is regional & exotic. Think: Elena Zelayeta
(5) 1950s TexMex launches mainstream USA marketing campaigns.
(6) 1970s TexMex ragingly popular. Raw salsa & chips become standard bar fare & supermarkets snacks. Think: Diana Kennedy
Also worth exploring? The multicultural/cuisine connection of salsa-type recipes served by different cultures. Cajun/Creole, Indian, and Chinese cooks offer interesting twists in this tasty theme.
"Salsa picante de chile colorado (Spicy red-Chile sauce)
Remove the crowns, then flatten and devein ten or twelve chiles; toast them in a warm oven, and when they are quite toasted, take them out and put them in cold water, then hot. Wipe them off and put in a casserole. Bathe the chilies in boiling water; let them soak for one or two hours, or let them simmer. Then take them out of the water in which they have been soaking; add a small amount of fresh water so the sauce will have a uniform consistency. After grinding the chilies well in a mortar, pass the sauce through a heavy strainer."
---Encarnacion's Kitchen: Mexican Recipes form Nineteenth-Century California, Encarnacion Pinedo, edited and translated by Dan Strehl [University of California Press:Berkeley] 2003 (p. 156)
[NOTE: This is one of several recipes included in the chapter titled "Salsas."]
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon water
Remove stems, seeds and veins from peppers--wash well, cover with hot water and bring to boil. Mash with masher and let cool. When cool, run through colander to remove pulp from skin, mash thoroughly until skins are almost dry. Chop onion, garlic and parsley fine. Fry in oil. When delicately brown, add four and salt. Then brown the flour, pour chili pulp into mixture, add vinegar, sugar and oregano. This salsa is used in many Spanish dishes."
---"Delicacies From Mexico," Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1934 (p. B18)
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 12 teaspoons salt
Combine ingredients in order given, mashing well. If desired, zucchini or string beans may be used instead of the mashed beans. Cut zucchini in rings, string beans in small pieces and cook until tender; add a tablespoon of vinegar to water in which zucchini is cooked."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayata [Griffin Brothers:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 34)
Her eis my version of that indeispensable Mexican chile sauce. I have Americanized it a little, as I have noted below. Since some chiles are not as hot as others, you may want to add some chile tepines to suit your taste. My personal touch is adding a tomato sauce, as it is not the Mexican custom to do so. I happen to like it better than way. In making this sauce, Mexicans do not thicken it; but you may do so, after dipping tortillas, if desired. What's more, if you do not care to go through all this trouble, there are several good prepared enchilada sauces on the market. This sauce may be used for enchiladas, cooked chicken or pork.
6 chiles colorados
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon comino
1 can tomato sauce (optional)
Put chiles in hot, dry skipped until parched. Remove seeds; wash and soak chiles in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Do not discard water. Add remaining ingredients except oil and mix in blender or grind until very smooth; strain if necessary. Heat oil, add sauce and simmer for about 10 mints to blend flavors. makes about 1 quart, enough for 12 enchiladas."
"Salsa Para Tostadas Y Tacos #1 (Sauce for Tostadas and Tacos #1)
This sauce should be hot--at least to be Mexican--so add green chiles or chile chipotle to suit your taste.
Gren peeled chiles, chopped or Chile chipotle, chopped to taste
1 tablespoon vinegar
Mix all ingredients well. This may be served hot or cold. Makes about 1 pint."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. 157-159)
About 1 12/ cups
You will find this sauce on Mexican tables at any time of day, for it goes well with breakfast eggs, with roasted or broiled meats at lunchtime, or tacos at evening, and there are people who put a spoonful of it into their frijoes de olla. It is marvelously crunchy and refreshing served just with tortillas. The Sinaloa verson calls for some scallions and lime juice in place of the onions and water, and the Yucatecan version, x-ni-pec, substitutes Seville orange juice for the water.
1/2 medium onion
3 chiles, perferably serranos
1/3 cup cold water
Chip all the ingredients finely--do not skin the tomato or seed the chili. Mix together in a bowl and add the salt and water. Although this can be made up to three hours ahead, it is best made almost the last minute, for it soon loses its crispness and the coriander its sharp flavor."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 297) Sopaipillas & fry bread
Recipes for sopaipilla/fry-bread foods were known to ancient old world cooks. Deep fried doughs with flavored with honey, nuts and spices were enjoyed by peoples of Greece, Rome and Egypt. In many places they were called fritters. The Spanish word "sopaipa" (from which sopaipilla is derived) means honey cake.
"Sopaipilla. A deep fried fritter usually served with honey. Sopaipillas, whose name is from the Spanish, are a staple of Mexican-American menus. history reveals they originated in Olde Town, Albuquerque, [New Mexico] about 300 years ago. Diana Kennedy, in her Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico (1978), writes "For years I have been denying to the aficianados of the sopaipillas of New Mexico that they have a Mexican counterpart. I have now disvovered that they can be found, though rarely, in the state of Chihiahua. I have yet to see them on an restaurant menus in the north." A good sopaipilla is supposed to resemble a puffed-up pillow; if cut into a round shape, it is called a "buneulo." "Sopaipilla" was first found in American print circa 1940."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 303)
One of the foods many people today connect with the Navajo people is fry bread. If you visit Navajo country you will find dozens of "traditional" fry bread stands. Many of these stands are run by families working out of modified RVs. These products are remarkably similar to state fair elephant ears and on-the-fly fritter-type delicacies.
The problem with current recipe for "traditional" fry bread (aka Indian Fry Bread, Navajo Fry Bread, Squaw Bread) is that the ingredients (wheat flour, baking powder, refined white sugar) and cooking utensils (frying pans, iron cauldrons) were not traditionally used by Native Americans. They were introduced to this continent by European explorers & pioneer families. European and American cookbooks from all time periods abound with recipes for fried breadstuffs. Think: bannock.
Why wheat & baking powder instead of maize and oil? Some food historians tell us Native Americans embraced wheat flour and modern leaveners for practical reasons. They could easily obtain the finished products through trade and they adapted well to traditional recipes. To boot? These wheat-based products proved appealing to European/American travelers/tourists. The current recipe for fry bread is very tasty and sells well.
Native Americans counter that the "Americanization" their foodstuffs was a direct byproduct of American government intervention. Products like Fry Bread are examples of what enterprising cooks create under challenging circumstances. Yes, this is complicated. Our research confirms Native American claims. Does this reduce the historic authenticity of Navajo Fry Bread? Certainly not. If anything? It invites an entirely new conversation.
". the [Navajo] people produced surplus for sale and trade so as to acquire a few items for which they had acquired a taste while interned at Fort Sumner and depended upon federal rationing. Army rations included that typical United States beverage brewed wtih hot water and ground-up black tree-seed, coffee. Navajos adopted coffee as their preferred non-alcoholic beverage. Coffee calls for sugar to sweeten it, and the Navajo people eagerly sought refined sugar, which had not been available to them prior to U.S. sovereignity. The typical sweetener of Mexican and Spanish colonial times was panocha, brown lumps used much as white sugar today. Army rations relied most of all upon wheat flour, milled to remove the nutritious husks in order to faster rising in making yeast breads. Inasmuch as the Army failed to employ home demonstration agents to instruct Navajo women in baking techniques at Fort Sumner, Navajo women learned to employ white wheat flour to make 'fried bread' on a modified Mexican model. Rather than shape the dough into very thin tortillas, Navajo woman adopted the quicker course of frying white flour dough in deep fat skillets."
---The Navajo People, Henry F. Dobyns and Robert C. Euler [Indian Tribal Series:Phoenix AZ] 1972 (p. 42-43)
"Fry bread, the important of the foods of the pan-Indian movement and the symbol of intertribal unity, does not represent precontact indigenous foods ro cooking style. The origins of this dish are apparently in the nineteenth century and reflect the ongoing cultural change that happens everywhere. Fry bread usually is made with a dough of wheat flour and milk or water. The dough is leavened with yeast or baking powder, kneaded, flattened into individual patties of farying sizes, and then deep fried. Fry bread is served with a variety of accompaniments, such as honey, maple syrup, and sugar, and sometimes wrapped around hot dogs or other filling in place of a bun or tortilla. The Lakota today sometimes eat fry bread topped with pureed and sweetened fruit pudding. In a variation, popovers (stuffed fry bread) are made by piling raw bread dough with a mixture of cooked beef, chili,onion, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning and then folding and deep frying the result. This dish sometimes is likened to tacos. Whatver the combinations, fry bread has a central role at powwows. Some historians believe that ggru bread originated as a result to Navajo incarceration at Fort Sumner, where the Indians had access only to flour and lard. Other see a connection to Spanish deep-fried churros and sopaipillas, which are flat, lard-fried, breadlike treats often served with sugar. According to another theory, the Plains Indians were among the first to make fry bread, having been influenced in the early nineteenth century by the French, who were particuarly noted for their fine yeast-leavened breads and who, more importantly, maintained influence and contact with tribes throughout the Mississippi area from Canada to Louisiana. Still another claim is that fry bread resulted from the creative efforts of inventive reservation women with government rations."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 169)
"In frontier America, as in colonial America, any form of bread made with corn instead of wheat was the sad paste of despair," writes Ms. Fussell (p. 220). "Native corn eaters on the Southwest, whose caste status did not depend upon wheat, nonetheless incorporated wheat into their cornmeal pastes as the incorporated the Madonna into their Corn Mothers. A recipe for contemporary Navaho cake, in Traditional Navajo Foods and Cooking , is a true child of the hybrid cuisine engendered when wheat met corn. (p. 225).
The earliest recipe we have for modern fry bread dates to the early 1930s: "Squaw bread..2 tablespoons Royal baking powder, 1 quart like warm water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon compound, flour enough to make about like biscuit dough. Roll and cut any shape desired. Fry in kettle of boiling compound. Recipe from Nancy Rogers Ware (Cherokee)"
---Indian Cook Book, The Indian Women's Club of Tulsa, Oklahoma [1932-33] (p. 7)
The origins of traditional foods such as tacos cannot usually be traced to a particular year or person. They are foods that evolved because the ingredients and technology needed to cook them were readily available. The history of tacos begins with the story of corn and the cooking of tortillas. Taco salad & Taco soup are new to the table.
"To most people in the United States, a taco is a tortilla bent in half to form a deep U shape, then fried crisp and stuffed to overflowing with ground beef, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, and grated cheese. Throughout Mexico, however the simple taco consumed by millions of people daily is a fresh, hot tortilla rolled around some shredded meat or mashed beans and liberally doused with any one of the endless variety of sauces for which Mexico is justly famed, but which are sadly misrepresented this side of the border. Tacos are usually eaten as a snack between meals, in the evening with a bowl of soup for supper, or as an appetizer before the main meal of the day."
---The Tortilla Book, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1975 (p. 53-4)
"The [National Taco Council] reports this theory of the origin of the word taco: 'It is popularly believed that taco came from the word ataco or atacar, which means stuff--and stuff they have."
---"Everything You Wanted to Know About Tacos," Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1972 (p. K9)
When did tacos become popular in the United States?
"1931--The Los Angeles restaurant El Cholo opens at 1121 South Western Avenue in a courtyard with a mission-style fountain. Proprietress Rosa Borquez serves enchiladas, chiles rellenos, Sonoran-style chimichangas, burritos, tacos and green-corn and cheddar tamales. "
The Food Chronology, James L. Trager [Henry Holt:New York] 1995 (p. 467)
According to El Cholo this restaurant opened in 1927. The history portion of the site does not mention tacos.
Taco soup, as we Americans know it today, is a new twist on an old culinary theme. It is based on a long history of "New World" soups and stews. Food historians confirm that spicy tomato-based soups/stews topped with cheese, onions, and chips have existed for hundreds of years. These recipes originated in Central/South America, where tomatoes, chilies and maize-based tacos are indigenous. Recipes vary according to local ingrendients and taste. After the Columbian Exchange many European cultures adopted spicy tomato-based soups. Think Gazpacho. Sometimes these soups were topped with crisp bread products. Tortilla soup circa 1940s may be the inspiration.
Our survey of magazine and newspaper articles reveals recipes called "taco soup" began appearing in American publications in the early 1990s. They were promoted as quick family soups composed primarily of canned items and packaged taco mixes. Ingredients are similar to standard American chili. Presumably, the end-product is thinner (aka soupier) than the traditional chili counterpart. There are several variations.
Given the timing, it is quite possible the "inventor" of the contemporary American recipe is an innovative marketing team promoting its company's products. It may not be a coincidence that the oldest recipe we find for taco soup was published by Campbell's Soup :
1 soup can water
Crumbled tortilla chips
Sliced green onion (spring onion)
In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, combine soup, water and salsa. Over medium heat, heat through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle each serving with tortilla chips, cheese and onion; top with a spoonful of sour cream. TIP: To add zip to this Mexican-style soup, substitute shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers for the Cheddar cheese. Makes about 1 1/2 cups or 2 side-dish servings."
---Campbell's Simply Delicious Recipes, Patricia Teberg editor [Crescent Books:New Jersey] 2003 (p. 48)
The oldest recipe we find in a magazine is from 1994:
"Quick & Easy Can-Do Soups. September's return to car pools, classrooms, and living by the clock needen't be an uphill climb. If you can operate a can opener, you've practically mastered these super speedy soups. Hearty Taco Soup satisfies with its generous assortment of toppings. Shredded cheese and lettuce from a deli salad will give you a head start on preparation."
We are finding several varations on the Mexican culinary theme of Tortilla Soup. Stock, meat, vegetables and spices vary according to region and period. The common thread for all recipes is the inclusion of crisp tortillas. This crispness is achieved purposely by frying (in fat) or exposing to air (stale). Essentially, tortillas provide the grain component, commonly found in soups throughout the world. European soup grain equivalents are pasta, rice, barley, and dumplings. Food historians generally tell us soup is ancient. It is consumed by all segments of society. Recipes have been shared, imported, adopted and adapted whenever peoples of divergent cuisines meet. This explains why many of the ingredients listed in traditional Mexican Tortilla Soup are from the Old World. Tortillas are generally the foods of the common Central American peoples.
Except for the tomatoes, the other ingredients [chicken, beef, onions, oil, spinach, salt, pepper and cheese are "Old World" foods introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers. The use of tortillas, in this recipe, more likely descends from European practice of adding crisped bread to soup (think croutons & crackers) rather than ancient Mayan/Aztec customs. Taco soup is the the same idea, a shortcut promoted by commerical food companies. Tortilla soup, a tomato and chicken-broth based recipe topped with tortillas, is more closely aligned with authentic Mexican cuisine:
"Ten years ago, you had to head to Mexico if you wanted to find a warming bowl of tortilla soup. Today, many people are enjoying Mexican fare and they're searching for authentic dishes, hence, classics like tortilla soup are becoming easier to find on the menus of neighborhood and upscale Mexican restaurants. It's no wonder. This elemental chicken and tortilla brew is like Mexican soul food-almost a national soup. It has been cooked for generations across Mexico by the upscale and humble alike, with each cook-and region-giving it a slightly different twist. Americans' first acquaintance with tortilla soup can be traced to a restaurant in the Zona Rosa, a popular nightlife and restaurant district in Mexico City. Fonda El Refugio started serving authentic interior and coastal Mexican cooking to tourists in the 1960s. Although some will argue that authentic tortilla soup possesses certain characteristics, there's no wrong way to make it. At its most fundamental, tortilla soup, or sopa de tortilla, consists of chicken broth flavored with roasted chilies and served with strips of fried tortillas. Cooks may add what they wish-from bits of chicken and avocado to elegant squash blossoms and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Some purists insist that epazote, a Mexican herb, also is an essential ingredient. Ellen Brown, author of Southwestern Tastes (HPBooks, $19.95), sees tortilla soup as a uniquely southwestern dish that is especially popular in Texas. Several Chicago restaurants serve versions of tortilla soup, including Frontera Grill, 445 N. Clark St. An unequivocal fan, Brown said that, "When I think of tortilla soup, "I think of the Mansion's.""
---Tortilla Soup of Mexico," Kim Pierce, Chicago Tribune February 25, 1988 (p. 2)
1 onion, chopped
3 quarts broth, chicken or beef
Sprig mint leaves
Cut tortillas into strips about the size of macaroni. Fry tortillas in oil until crisp, then rmove from pan and drain on absobent paper. Place in pot and add boiloing broth wich has been prepared in the followin manner: Fry onion and tomato puree in the oil which was used in frying the tortillas. Add stock. Mash the cilantro, add a little broth, and strain into the stock Cook half an hour, adding the mint leaves during the last 10 minutes. Serve with grated cheese. Serves 6."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 16)
2 cups tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut tortillas into strips like macaroni. Fry in oil until crisp. Set aside to drain on brown paper. Fry minced onion in oil in which tortillas were fried. Add tomato puree. Season and cook, covered, 30 minutes. Butter a casserole. Place in layers, tortilla strips, sauce, grated cheese, and round slices of hard-cooked eggs. Follow same procedure until all ingredeints are used, having round of eggs for last layer. Cover with remaining sauce. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 30 minutes. Serves 6."
It's worth rounding up some fresh cilantro (coriander) for this soup. If you haven't a Mexican store nearby, go to a Chinese one and ask for Chinese parsley (or yinsoits'oi), or plant some seeds from your spice cabinet and wait a month for your soup.
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro (coriander)
Cut tortillas into strip about the size of macaroni, fry in oil until crisp, then remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper. Place in pot and add boiling broth withc has been prepared in the following manner: Fry onion and tomato puree in the oil which was used in frying the tortillas. Add stock. Mash the cilantro, add a little broth, and strain into the stock. Cook half an hour, adding the mint leaves during the last 10 minutes. Serve with grated cheese. Serves 6."
---Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking, Elena Zelayeta [Prentice-Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1958 (p. 21)
At first glance it may seem presumptious for this simple soup to denominate itself the essence of Mexican soupery, as its name implies. However, the ingredients and methods add up to what our neighbors refer to as netamente Mejicana--netly or one hundred per cent Mexican. This unpretentious, but savory poor man's soup contains the basic recaudo and tortillas; sprinkling cheese over the soup is a national custom.
1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
Oil for cooking
1 cup cooked spinach, well chopped
1 cup shredded white cheese, as crumbly as possible.
Saute the onion, tomato and parsley until the onion is tender. Add the soup stock and chopped spinach and bring to boil. Drop in the tortillas which ahve been quartered and lightly fried in deep fat; don't get them too hard. Serve the soup in bowls and sprinkle on cheese at the last second. Stays eight appetites."
---The Food and Drink of Mexico, George C. Booth, facsimile 1964 edition [Dover Publications:New York] 1975 (p. 40)
"Tamales are made for an occasion, and an occasion is made of making them. Men, women, children, and servants all join in with good humor, shredding, chopping, stirring, and cleaning the husks, until all is prepared. Then everyone converges to form a real assembly line, some daubing the husks with masa while others add the filling, fold, and stack into the steamer. Tamales are fiesta food, the Sunday night special in many restaurants, the ceremonial food prepared in honor of the dead on All Saints' Day--and they were eaten by the Mexican rulers long before the Spaniards came to the New World. Those early inhabitants of Mexico also had tamales of corn tassels mixed with aramanth seeds and the meat of ground cherries. And them made them of tender corn, like the uchepos of Michoiacan today. And what an enormous variety there is today, from the smallest norteno to the three-foot sacahuil from the Huastec countury. Probably the most surprising members of the tamal family are the shrimp ones form Escuinapa in Sinaloa. Small unskinned shrimps are used. In Sinaloa, too, they make large tamales like elongated bonbons. They are filled with the usual pork and tomato sauce, but added to it are all sorts of vegetables cut into little strips--zucchini, potatoes, green beans, plantains, and chiles serranos. Chiapas seems to have more than its share of varieties. On the coast there are those of iguana meat and eggs, and inland around Tuxtla Gutierrez the Indians make countless varieites. Tamales colados in Campeche and Merida. are cooked in banana leaves, with a wonderfully savory filling seasoned with achiote and epazote. The tamal itself is made of uncooked tortilla dough that has been diluted in water, strained, and thickened over the fire. Michoaca. is famed for its tamales: the fresh corn uchepos and the corundas--the bread of the Tarascan Indians--made of maize dough leavened with wood ash and wrapped cunningly into rhomboid shapes with the long leaf from the corn stalk. Throughout Mexico there are tamales filled with fish, pumpkin, pineapple, and peanuts, and those made of black and purple corn and rice. Wherever you go you will find something different. The tamales from central Mexico have a white, spongy dough that bears no resemblance to the rather soggy, grayish dough of most commercial tamales available here [in the United States]. Today the Mexican housewife has a choice of many first-class flour prepared especially for tamales."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 84-88) [NOTE: This book contains several tamale recipes.]
Food historian Sophie Coe noted "Paintings of Classic Maya vases show us plates of round objects with dark spirals on their upper surfaces, exactly the patter one would expect on the cut top of a tamale filled in this fashion. Today tamales are always werved with their wrappers, but this may be because postconquest additions like lard and broth make them too sloppy to be served conveniently without them." America's First Cuisines, [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 148)
"It is said that tamales saved Hernando Cortes and his men from starvation in Mexico. When the Aztecs realized that the Spanish soldiers were not (as had been thought because of their "pure" white skin) high priests from Quetzalcoatl, the god of plenty, they stopped giving the invaders food. Cortes, howeever, had won the loved of a woman named Malinche and told her he would have to leave if his men could not obtain food. Malinche told Cortes to storm the gates of the city on a certain evening. He did, and Malinche led a group of friends who bombard the Spaniards with tamales."
---American Heritage Cookbook: and Illustrated History of American Eating and Drinking, Menus and Recipes, [American Heritage Publishing CO.:New York] 1964 (p. 398)
"Tamales. are an important feature of Mexican food and date back to pre-Columbian times. A specially prepared cornmeal dough, usually stuffed with something but sometimes cooked blind, is steamed inside little. packages of carefully trimmed corn husks or similar wrappings such as banana leaf. The dough is. made from a particular kind of ground nixtamalized corn kernals, and pure lard (which was not used. in pre-Columbian times). It produces what could be described as an aromatic bun with the consistency of firm polenta. Size and fillings vary widely. Sweet tamales are made as well as savoury ones. Tamales are almost invariably eaten with atole, corn gruel. They remain, as in the past, an important festival food. However, tamales have become much more than just a festival food, being available at all seasons; they can be bought from street vendors for breakfast."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 780)
"Tamale. A term describing a wide range of dishes based on a cornmeal-flour dough that is placed inside cornhusks (sometimes a banana leaf) and then steamed. Tamales are of Mexican origin and were enjoyed by the Aztecs (the word comes from the Nahuatl tamalli) in several versions, from appetizer to sweet dessert. In Mexico they are traditionally served in restaurants on Sunday nights and as a ceremonial food on All Saints' Day. As early as 1612 Englishman Captain John Smith mentioned a kind of tamale made by the Indians of Virginia, and by 1691 note was made by others of a bean-filled tamale of the Southwest. Tamale pie. A Dish of cornmeal mush milled with chopped meat and a hot chili sauce. The term first appeared in 1911."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 322)
About Tamale Pie
"Origin of Tamale Pie. In The Dictionary of American Food and Drink (revised edition, 1994), John Mariani writes that the term "tamale pie" first appeared in print in 1911. It may be so, but my own research has turned up nothing that predates World War I. Then, as during World War II, women were urged to save meat. Conservation Recipes (1918), a booklet compiled by the Mobliized Women's Organization of Berkeley and published by the Berkeley Unit, Council of Defence Women's Committee, offers five recipes for Tamale Pie, each from a different woman. All are completely meatless and all contain corn, cornmeal, and tomatoes in some form (puree, sauce, canned tomates., etc.). Some enrich the mix with ripe olives or cheese, and some don't. Tamale pie also appears in Everyday Foods in Wartime (1918) by Mary Swartz Rose, assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. The Tamale Loaf in Good Housekeeping's Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922) also adds ground beef, only here it's cooked, then ground. The July 1941 issue of Sunset published a tamale pie in its popular "Kitchen Cabinet" column and called it a version of "a long-time Western favorite." A Chicken Tamale Pie (with canned corn) makes the 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking and another chicken variation, the 1948 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Tamale pie surged in popularity after World War II, when, according to Gerry Schremp (Kitchen Culture: Fifty Years of Food Fads, 1991), it became the darling of potluck suppers."
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 148)
Recommended reading: America's First Cuisines/Sophie D. Coe & The Story of Corn/Betty Fussell
"Tortilla. a round, thin unleavened bread made from ground maize, a basic food of Mesoamerica. It is not known how many millennia this has been a staple; but when the conquistadores arrived in the New World in the late 15th century, they discovered that the inhabitants made flat corn breads. The native Nahuatl name for these was tlaxcalli and the Spanish gave them the name tortilla. The art of tortilla-making was highly developed by the native Mesoamericans; 17th century Spanish observed, Francisco Hernandez, remarked on the fine, almost transparent tortillas prepared for important people. Fresh tortillas are eaten as bread, used as plate and spoon, or filled to make composite dishes such as tacos and enchiladas."
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 803)
"The most common and popular antojito (appetizer) of all is the everyday taco. You just take a warm tortilla, put some cooked and shredded meat across it, couse the meat with a sauce, and roll up the tortilla. In true Mexican style, which you tip one end of it toward your mouth you should curl the other up with your little finger so that none of the sauce is lost. Not quite so common is the fried taco. Of course, there are exceptions to this. for in parts of Jalisco and Sinaloa they make thin tortillas especially for crisp tacos, and in Yucatan the cotzito is a taco, tightly rolled around some shredded meat and fried crisp. In Chihuahua and Baja California they just double the tortilla over and fry it--but it is practically never fried crisp."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row:New York] 1972 (p. 116-7)
"Tortillas are small flat maize-flour cakes served hot with a variety of fillings of toppings. They are of Mexican origin, and have become more widely known in the late twentieth century owing to the increasing popularity of Tex-Mex cuisine. Etymologically, the word means virtually 'little tart'. It is an American Spanish diminutive of the Spanish torta, 'round cake', which in turn goes back to late Latin torta (probably source of English tart). It was first mentioned in an English text as long ago as the end of the seventeenth century (Tartilloes are small Cakes made of the Flower of Indian Corn,' William Dampier, New Voyage Round World, 1699), but it did not really become established until the mid-ninetheenth century."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 347)
"Tortilla. The world comes from the Spanish-American diminutive for the Spanish torta, "round cake." (In Spain, the tortilla espanola is more like an omelet.)"
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariana [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 330)
"A Spanish tortilla has nothing in common with its Mexican counterpart except its Latin root--torte, meaning a round cake. a Spanish tortilla is simply a potato omelet.."
---The Foods and Wines of Spain, Penelope Casas [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1982 (p. 163)
2. The Story of Corn, Betty Fussell
FoodTimeline library owns 2300+ books, hundreds of 20th century USA food company brochures, & dozens of vintage magazines (Good Housekeeping, American Cookery, Ladies Home Journal &c.) We also have ready access to historic magazine, newspaper & academic databases. Service is free and welcomes everyone. Have questions? Ask!
Plenty o fish dating
Archaeologists tell us humans have been eating crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, shrimp) from prehistoric times to present. They know this from excavating "middens," deposits of shells and bones left by early civilizations. These foods weren't "discovered" (like early people "discovered" some corn popped if placed near the fire) but noticed. The earliest hunter-gatherers took advantage of every available food resource. People who lived near water (oceans, seas, lakes, rivers) naturally took advantage of the foods offered by these resources.
Culinary evidence confirms lobsters were known to ancient Romans and Greeks. The were highly esteemed by the British, not so esteemed by American colonists. This sea creature enjoyed a resurgence of demand in the 19th century which still holds true today.
"Lobster, well-armed sea creature. Its most noticeable external traits were its long hands and small feet' (Archestratus), its bent fingers (Epicharmus) and its dark color (Pliny). It is very good, albeit somewhat complicated, to eat; simpler for the eventual diner if the cook minces the meat and forms it into cakes, as described in Apicius. The lobster (Homarus Gammarus) is Greek askakos. Latin astacus and elephantus; the latter name is seldom attested in classical texts but was certainly in use, since it survives in modern Italian dialects."
---Food in the Ancient World From A-Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 198)
"So the Romans who came to Britain [43 AD] and who lived within reach of the sea must have been very happy to enjoy the local seafhish. seafoods such as crab and lobster were taken. Shellfish of many kinds became very popular" (p. 21) "Lobster, crayfish and crab were greatly enjoyed [in mid-fifteenth century Britain], though they seldom reached the inland eater. Crab and lobster were also boiled and eaten cold with vinegar, as were shrimps." (P. 43) "During the eighteenth century. Lobsters, crabs, shrimps and prawns continued to be enjoyed." (p. 48-9) "In Victorian times. Lobster, crabs, shrimps and prawns could be dressed in many ways, but the commonest was to boil them to eat cold. After being simmered in a brine of water and Bay salt in a fish kettle, lobsters could either be eaten immediately, or kept as long as a quarter of a year, wrapped in brine-soaked rags and buried deep in sand." (p. 55)
---Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991
"Lobster, much as today, was considered especially elegant and appropriate food for lovers, being an aphrodesiac. There is a common perception that lobster was considered a poor man's food, and this many have been in the case in colonial New England but not back in Europe. In fact English man-about-town Samuel Pepys's diary records than an elegant dinner he thew in 1663 included a fricassee of rabbit and chickens, carp, lamb, pigeons, various pies and four lobsters..Lobster was cooked either by roasting, boiling or by removing the meat from the shell and cooking it separately."
---Food in Early Modern Europe, Ken Albala [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2003 (p. 75)
"The American lobster (Homarus americanus) is today on of the more expensive food items on the market, owing to the difficulty of obtaining sufficeint quantities to meet the demand. But when the first Europeans came to America, the lobster was one of the most commonly found crustaceans. They sometimes washed up on the beaches of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in piles of two feet high. These settlers approached the creatures with less than gustator enthusiasm, but the lobsters' abundance mande them fit for the tables of the poor. In 1622 Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Plantation apologized to a new arrival of settlers that the only dish he "could presente their friends with was a lobster. without bread or anyhting else but a cupp of fair water." Lobsters in those days grew to a tremendous size, sometimes forty or more pounds. The taste for lobster developed rapidly in the nineteenth century, and commercial fisheries specializing in the crustacean were begun in Maine in the 1840s, thereby giving rise to the fame of the "Maine lobster," which was being shipped around the world a decade later. In 1842 the first lobster shipments reached Chicago, and Americans enjoyed them both at home and in the cities' new "lobster palaces," the first of which was built in New York by the Shanley brothers. Diamond Jim Brady thought nothing of downing a half-dozen in addition to several other full courses. By 1885 the American lobster industry was providing 130 million pounds of lobster per year. So afterward the population of the lobster beds decreased rapidly, and by 1918 only 33 million pounds were taken."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Freidman:New York] 1999 (p. 186)
[NOTE: This book has separate entries for selected popular dishes: Lobster rolls, lobster Newburg, lobster a l'americaine, and lobster fra diavolo. If you need these ask your librarain to help you find a copy.]
"In 1621 Edward Winslow reported to a friend back in England concerning the Plymouth settlement that "our Bay is full of Lobsters all the Summer." In Salem a few years later, Francis Higginson observed that "the least Boy in the Plantation may both catch and eat what he will of" lobters. Lobsters were not only plentiful in early New England, they were large.Higginson reported some weighing twenty-five pounds. But lobsters were not always a welcome sight on early colonial tables. As noted above, in 1623 Governor Bradford complained of having only lobster to serve visitors. Early New Englanders would have been perplexed to find lobsters grouped, as they were by one twentieth-century writer, with caviar and filet mignon. No delicacy, American lobsters were nonetheless better received than many shellfish. They were soon being cooked much the same way as their smaller European counterparts, in sauces for other fish, or as accompaniments to roasts. When not potting lobsters, baking them in pies or using them in sauces, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century New England cooks were apt to stew or fricassee them. Boiled lobsters were served cold with dressing, not hot and "in the rough," as we are most likely to encounter them today. In the 1840s, [Catharine] Beecher. presented boiled lobster served in this fashion. The American taste for lobster was on the rise. When nineteeth-century canning methods, developed around 1840 and perfected during the Civil War, were redirected toward peacetime activities, lobsters were among the most popular canned products. By 1880, there were twenty-three lobster canneries in Maine. Fresh lobsters, made more widely available by improved transportation, were increasingly preferred."
---America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking, Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill NC] 2004 (P. 102-4)
Is it true that in Colonial New England it was against the law to serve lobster more than three times a week to servants? No. Food historian Sandy Oliver elucidates: "The lobster and salmon story is one of the most frequently told about New England seafood. It generally goes like this: Salmon and lobster "used to be so abundant that, it is said, " pick one---the apprentices, servants, boarders, lumbermen, occupants, prisoners, and slaves of-pick another--Newcastle, England, Boston or Lowell, Massachusetts, Puget Sound, Bristol, Rhode Island, Islesboro, Maine, the Maine State Prison, or the South-refused to eat either lobsters or salmon, more than twice a week. Recent versions of the story usually feature lobster, but the vast majority of accounts prefer salmon. All the stories have in common some group of people who have no control over their food choices, people who have to eat what is served them. The stories all explain that these sufferers had a meeting to form a complaint presented to an official in charge. The story, substantiated only by reference to an alleged expert who "has it on good authority" or words to that effect, is usually put in the context of former natural abundance. So the tale is reported second hand, refers to a time from fifty to one hundred years earlier than the usual late 1800s publishing date. The most common sources for this particular tale are town histories which abounded in the nineteenth century often written by a local antiquarian, though it appears also in George Brown Goode's The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States published in 1887. Lack of primary evidence is the main reason to doubt this story. No minutes of these indignation meetings, nor ordinances outlawing sea food more than twice a week, have ever emerged. But why salmon, why lobster, why twice a week? The stories appear when salmon or lobster are becoming historically scarce, when the author wants to recall a distant, more abundant past. Twice a week was for many in early England or the colonies, the number of fast days a week on which one customarily ate fish. As Protestantism neglected religious fasts marked by fish consumption, the idea of having to eat fish more than one's religion formerly required sounded like an imposition on people who always preferred meat to fish."
---history, statisitcs, biology, environmental impact, laws
Maine Lobster Promotion Council (history, statistics, trends)
Recommended reading: Lobster: A Global History, Elisabeth Townsend [Edible Series, 2011]
Rock lobster is another name for spiny lobster, a popular warm-water crustacaen. In some parts of the world it is also known as crayfish or crawfish, which accounts for the confusion between rock lobster and American crawfish. Old World crayfish are the primary flavoring in Sauce Nantua.
"Rock lobster. Apparently Americans find the name crawfish a gastronomic turn-off, for when theis crustacean appears on restaurant menus or is canned or frozen for sale, it often goes under the disguise of rock lobster (originally an alternative name for the spiny lobster)."
---An A to Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 284)
"Spiny lobster, the correct name for crustaceans of the family Paniluridae, is prefereable to the name crawfish which is sometimes used by invited confusion with crayfish. Needless to say, using the name crayfish or cray, as sometimes in Australia, is even more likely to cause confustion. The spiny lobsters are indubitably lobsters, bu they differ from the archetypal lobsters of the N. Atlantic in having no claws and in belonging to warmer waters. Indeed they are most abundant in the tropics. Their size and the excellence of their meat ensures that they are in strong demand, although the question whether they are better than or inferior to the common lobster is and will no doubt for ever be debated. Such debate is complicated by the fact that the established recipes for the Atlantic lobster, generally speaking, have been those of classical French cuisine plus the more robust tradtitions evolved in N. America; whereas the spiny lobster, with its worldwide range in warmer waters, has attracted to itself a large number of recipes involving tropical or subtropical ingredients."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 747)
". millions of other lobsters come from South Africa, South America, Mexico, Australia, and elsewhere, usually in the form of "spiny lobsters," sometimes called "crawfish" but distinct from the true native freshwater crayfish. Spiny lobster. (Panlirus argus). A favorite Floridian species, the spiny lobster ranges from the Carolinas to the Caribbean and is related to a Californian species., P. Interruptus. At market, spiny lobsters are often called "rock lobsters."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 186-7)
"Rock lobster. A market name for the spiny lobster. Large quantities of South African and Australian "rock lobsters" are imported to the U.S. annually, as our demand exceeds the local supply. They are also imported from Chile and New Zealand. Although these imports represent a different genus (Jasus), they are of the same family and form a culinary standpoint are no different from a spiny lobster taken in North American waters. Spiny lobster: In the western Atlantic the spiny lobster. ranges from North Carolina and Bermuda to Brazil, through the southern Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is most abundant in Florida, Bahamas, Cuba and British Honduras. Closely related species occur in California. Sometimes called crawfish, and misleadingly crayfish, the spiny lobster like other members of this family (Palinuridae) has 5 pairs of legs but no claws. Thus, its tail portion provides the bulk of the meat. Compared to the American lobster its texture is coarser but of good flavor and tender when freshly prepared. Although 6 species of spiny lobster occur in the western Atlantic, the differences are taxonomical rather than culinary, and they are all generally similer in appearance; numerous spines cover the body, with 2 large, hooked horns over the eyes. It is a beautifully marked crustacean with browns, yellows, orange, green and blue mottled over the upper parts and underside of the tail. Spiny lobster tails can be boiled, steamed, deep-fried or broiled, or the raw meat can be removed for the shell and used in any of the prepared dishes such a scurries, thermidors, newburgs or salads. Never bake it, as the musculature will tighten like a drumhead."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 177-9)
"Crayfish. Also, "crawfish," "crawdad," crawdaddy," and "Florida lobster." Any of these various freshwater crustaceans of the genera Canbarus and Astacus. Although considerably smaller, the crayfish remembles the lobster, and there are 250 species and subspecies found in North America alone. The name is from Middle English crevise, and, ultimately, from Frankish krabtija. Crayfish formed a significant part of the diet of the Native Americans of the South and still hold their highest status among the Cajuns of Louisiana. Louisanans have an enourmous passion and appetitie for what they call "crawfish" (a name used by Captain John Smith as early as 1615). The crayfish figures in Louisiana folklore, and the natives hold "crayfish boils" whenever the crustacean is in season. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, calls itself the "Crawfish Capitol of the World" and to prove it, cooking up crayfish in pies, gumbos, stews, and every other way imaginable. Yet one would not easily find a crawfish on restaurant menus in Louisiana much before 1960 because they were considered a common food to be eaten at home. Crayfish are commercially harvested in waters of the Mississippi basin, most of them of the Red Swamp and white River varieties, with the season running approximately form Thanksgiving Day to the Fourth of July. "Cajun popcorn" is a dish of battered, deep-fried crayfish popularized by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1980s."
Apicius (1st-4th century AD) includes recipes for broiled lobster , boiled lobster with cumin sauce , Another lobster dish--mince of the tail meat , boiled lobster (with pepper, cumin, rue, honey vinegar, broth and oil)  and lobster with wine .
---Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling [General Publishing:Ontario] 1977 (p. 210-211)
Platina offers instructions for cooking sea lobsters.
---On right Pleasure and Good Health, Platina, critical edition and translation by Mary Ella Milham [Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998 (p. 449)
Robert May's Accomplist Cook includes these lobster recipes: To Stew Lobsters, To Hash Lobsters, To Boil Lobsters to eat cold in the common way, To keep Lobsters a quarter of a year very good, To Farce Lobster, To marinate Lobsters, To broil Lobsters, To broil Lobsters on paper, To roast Lobsters, To fry Lobsters, To bake Lobsters to be eaten hot, To pickle Lobsters, To jelly Lobsters, Craw-fish, or Prawns.
---The Accomplisht Cook, Robert May, facsimile 1685 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 2000 (p. 401-409)
Hannah Glasse was one of the most popular cookbook authors on the 18th century. Her lobster recipes included: buttered, fine dish of, in fish sauce, pie, potted and roast.
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 61, 94-5, 115, 117)
Eliza Acton wrote cookbooks for the new Victorian middle class. Her lobster recipes include: to boil, boudinettes of, buttered, cutlets, cutlets, Indian, fricasseed, hot, patties, potted, salad, sausages.
---Modern Cookery of Private Families, Eliza Acton [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1994 (p. 91-4, 133,136)
Mrs. D. A. Lincon authored the first Boston Cooking School Cook Book. Her index lists: Lobster bisque, chowder, creamed, croquettes, curried, cutlets, devilled, plain, salad, sauce, scalloped, soup, and stewed. She also include instructions for choosing and opening lobsters. Her book is online, full-text.
[NOTE: all of the above sources are recently published and readily obtainable through your local public library.]
Where did Lobster Fra Diavolo originate? Like many popular Italian-American dishes, there are several theories. What is the true evolution of Lobster Fra Diavolo? Our survey of historic recipes suggests it might have been a complicated mix of Italian ingenuity inspired by French fare demanded by American customers. Why? Traditional Italian "diavolo" recipes employ chicken but not tomatoes. French "diable"-type recipes combine chicken and tomato puree. Lobster American style employs (in French, Englsih and American cookbooks) demands tomatoes in some form. Most, but not all, rely on cayenne pepper to invoke the *devil*. About devilled foods.
"Lobster Fra Diavolo. A recipe of elusive origin. I'd always thought lobster Fra Diavolo Italian, probably southern Italian, but I do not pretend to be an expert on thee cookingof that extraordinary country. Then, just as I was putting this book to bed, along comes a New York Times article (May 29, 1996 p. C3) suggesting that this rich dish--chunks of lobster, still in the shell, bedded on pasta and smothered with a spicy tomato sauce--was created early this century by Italian immigrants in or around New York City. Like spaghetti and meatballs. Florence Fabricant. doesn't proclaim that lobster Fra Diavolo is American. Instead, she queries the experts, such respected writers on and teachers of Italian cooking as Marcella Hazan. Hazan remembers eating Lobster Fra Diavolo in 1940 at Grotta Azzura, a restaurant opened in New York's Little Italy in 1908. "I remember the dish clearly," Farbicant quotes Hazan as saying, "because it was so heavy and typical of Italian cooking in America. We con't eat like that in Italy." Anna Teresa Callen concurs. "It's not an Italian dish,". "It's really another Italian-American invention. I have never seen it in Italy and suspect that it came from Long Island." Bugialli, like Hazan and Callen, scoffs at the notion that Lobster Fra Diavolo is an Italian classic. "We don't even have American lobsters in Italy,". "And a heavy tomato sauce with hot peppers, seafood, and pasta all in one dish is not Italian cooking. I think it came from a restaurant that was near the old Met, around Thirty-eighth Street and Broadway. Would that have been the old Mama Leone's? It opened behind the Met in 1906. Restauranteur Tony May, a Neapolitan, says he never heard of Lobster Fra Diavolo until he arrived in New York in 1963. He thinks Veusvio, a midtown Manhattan restaurant, might have invented it. But Frank Scognamillo, the owner of Pastys'. begs to differ. His father, Pasquale, emigrated from Naples to New York in the early 1920s and opened Patsy's in 1944, Lobster Fra Diavolo was a house specialty. Scognamillo says his father told him Lobster Fra Diavolo was a Neapolitan dish, and that like many other spicy, tomatoey recipes of southern Italy, it was handed down for generations. With all due respect to Scognamillo and Davino---I tend to think Hazan, Bugialli, Callen "and company" nearer the mark."
---The American Century Cookbook, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 117)
[NOTE: The oldest recipe we found (so far) titled "Lobster Fra Diavolo" was published in 1939.]
"Lobster fra diavolo. An Italian-American dish whose name translates as "Lobster Brother Devil" made with lobster cooked in a spicy, peppery tomato sauce. It was a creation of Southern Italian immigrants, who did not have American lobsters in Italy (in Itlay dishes termed "alla diavolo" indicate on made with a good deal of coarsley ground black pepper), and became a popular dish in Italian-American restaurants in New York by the 1940s."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 187)
The oldest print reference we have for serving Lobster fra Diavolo indicates the dish may have been served in New York City, 1908:
"One of the best restaurants in the city specializing in Italian food--and one of the oldest, since it was founded in 1908, is Enrico & Paglieri, 66 West Eleventh Stree, in Greenwich Village. Back in the days when Enrico and his partner, Paul Paglieri, who died many years ago, started their venture, the menu seldom varied from minestrone, lobster diavolo and chicken. This was a concession to the customers of the time, who clamored for those dishes, Enrico explains, and how, incidentally paid only 55 cents for a complete meal, including a bottle of wine."
---"News of Food: Italian Meals Served in Outdoor Setting in Restaurant Opened in 'Village' in 1908," New York Times, June 24, 1946 (p. 34)
[NOTE: Is it possible Enrico & Paglieri's was referring to French cuisine when he said his customers were clamoring for *this* type of food? James Beard's classic recipe c. 1961 offers a compelling argument.]
"One of the most discussed questions on gastronomy is the case of lobster a l'americaine. For a long time specialists have maintained, since no American dish has ever seen the fire of French stoves, that this dish must be called lobster a l'armoricaine, "Armorique" being the ancient name for Brittany. Now it would appear that if by definition a regional dish is one composed of local products--the vegetables, the fish, and the wines--it is difficult to understand why Brittany, with its scarcity of tomatoes, not too plentiful Cognac, supplying only the lobster, could claim the credit for the dish. Also, the great chefs have continued to baptize the dish homard a l'americaine. If we believe the latter version, accepted in the realm of Good Cheer, this fanciful name was one invented on spot to suit the occasion. This dish apparently saw the light of day before 1870, in Noel Peter restaurant in Paris, where chef Fraisse commanded the cooking brigade after the dinner hour and just before closing, demanding and insisting that Peters serve them dinner. The only things the kitchen could provide at this late hour were some live lobsters--and there was no time to cook them in court-bouillon. A flash of inspiration, and a new dish was born. The enthusiastic and grateful guests demanded to know the name of this new dish. Peters, still under the influence of hsi recent trip to America, replied off-hand and with out thinking: "Le homard a l'americaine.". it is now proven and accepted that a Parisian restaurant was the cradle of this dish. "
---Traditional Recipes of the Provinces of France, selected by Curnonsky, translated and edited by Edwin Lavin [Les Productions de Paris:Paris] 1961 (p. 24)
"Lobster a L'Americaine
Cut some broiled lobster tails into scollops 1/4 inch thick; set them in a circle in a silver casserole;
Wash and chop some shalots; fry them in butter for two minutes; moisten with French white wine; and cook them;
The add equal quantities of Espagnole Sauce, and Tomato Puree, and a little Cayenne pepper; and reduce the sauce for five minutes;
Fill the centre of the casserole with the fleish of the claws cut in small dice, and mixed in some of the sauce; pour the remainder of the sauce over the scollops; put the casserole in the oven for ten minutes, to warm the lobster; and serve." ---The Royal Cookery Boook, Jules Gouffe, translated by Alphone Gouffe [Sampson Low, Son, and Marston:London] 1869 (p. 446)
"Pollo al Diavolo (Chicken Devil Style)
It is called this because it is supposed to be seasoned with strong cayenne pepper and served in a very spicy sauce, so that whoever eats it feels his mouth on fire and is tempted to send both the chicken and whoever cooked it to the devil. I shall give a simplr, more civilized way to prepare it: Take a cockerel or young chicken, remove the head, neck and feet, and, after cutting it open all the way down the front, flatten it out as much as you can. Wash and dry it well with a kitchen towel, then place it on the grill. When it begins to brown, turn it over, brush with melted butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When the other side begins to brown, turn the chicken over again and repeat the procedure. Continue to baste and season as necessary until done. Cayenne pepper is sold as red powder, which comes from England in little glass bottles."
---Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Pellegrino Artusi, originally c. 1891, translated by Murtha Baca and Stephen Sartarelli [Marsilio Publshers:New York] 1997 (p. 377)
procure two good sized freshly boiled lobsters and split them, removing all of the meat very carefully, and cut it up into pieces about an inch in length; and have in readiness a pan on top of a range half full of good olive oil, and when the oil has become very hot add pieces of the lobster. Chop very fine one peeled onion, one green pepper, and half a peeled clove, some sound garlic, place it with the loster and cook for five minutes, stirring all the time; season with a pinch of salt and half a saltspoonful of red pepper, to which add half a wineglassful of white wine. After two minutes' reduction add one gill of tomato sauce and a medium sized peeled tomato, cut into small dice. Continue cooking for ten minutes, gently stirring the while, then pour the whole into a hot dish or tureen and serve."
---The Cook Book by "Oscar" of the Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky [Saalfield Publsihing Company:Chicago] 1908 (p. 100)
Chicken With Sauce Piquante (Pollo alla Diavolo), Italian Cookbook, Maria Gentile, published in New York City (quite possibly the inspiration?)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Italian peeled tomatoes
Plunge the live lboster in salted furiously boiling water for 15 minutes; drain. Pick out meat, cook for 3 to 4 minutes in the olive oil. Add then the parsley, garlic, tomatoes and oregan; let simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve piping hot."
---Long Island Seafood Cook Book, J. George Frederick, recipes edited by Jean Joyce [Business Bourse:New York] 1939 (p. 205)
"How shall this delicately flavored crustacean come to dinner. Italian restaurants in several sections of this city, including a favorite, Da Cinta, have convinced us that hot peppers and plum tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, also are possible flavorings. In other words, if there are plenty of finger bowls, napkins and generous bibs, and if the day is not too hot for this spicy dish, then why not lobster fra diavolo?
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups canned plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil and brown garlic in it. Add other ingredients, excluding lobster. Simmer about ten minutes.
2. Place lobsters on their backs and with a sharp knife cut in half lengthwise from head to tail. Spread open. remove small sac just back of the head. Crack large claws.
3. Arrange lobsters flat in casserole, flesh side up. Pour tomato sauce over them. Bake at 400 degrees F. fifteen to twenty minutes. Yield: three to four portions."
---"News of Food: Fresh Lobsters Plentiful but not Cheap," Jane Nickerson, New York Times, May 26, 1949 (p. 37)
1 medium-sized lobster ( 1 1/2 lbs.)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Place lobster on back and slit lengthwise. Spread open and clean. Crack claws. Place in flat baking pan. Pour olive oil in separate pant and brown garlic. Add tomatoes, pepper seeds, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook slowly about 10 minutes. Pour sauce over lobster and bake 25 minutes in moderate oven (350 degrees F.)." ---Love and Dishes, Niccolo de Quattrociocchi [Bobbs-Merrill:Indianapolis] 1950 (p. 242)
2 medium lobsters (boiled)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
5 red pepper seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon meat extract, dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
Cut lobster in half lengthwise and place shell side down in baking dish. Sprinkle with oil and butter and bake in hot oven 20 minutes. Serve with sauce made in the following manner: Place vinegar, pepper and red pepper seeds together in saucepan and simmer until vinegar is reduced to half quantity. Add meat extract in hot water and tomato paste to vinegar and cook 10 minutes. Mix together butter and flour, blending well, and add slowly to sauce. Mix well, add mustard and pour over baked lobsters. Serves 2 to 4."
---The Talisman Cook Book, Ada Boni, translated and augmented by Matilde Pei, special edition printed for Ronzoni Macaroni Co., Inc [Crown Publishers:New York] 1955 (p. 53)
2 2-pound lobsters
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley (Italian parsley, if available)
Pinch of cloves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups of canned tomatoes
Prepare the lobsters as for Lobster a l'Americane. Heat the olive oil in a large kettle and add the lobster pieces. Using tongs, toss them about in the hot oil until the shells are red and the meat seared. Lower the heat and let the lobster simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley, the oregano, the cloves, mace and salt and pepper to taste. Peel and chop the onion and garlic very fine and add these. Add the canned tomatoes. Mix these ingredients, cover the kettle and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to be sure the flavorings blend. Place the lobster in the center of a large heat-proof planter and surround it with mounds of rice. Pour the sauce over the lobster and pour cognac over this. Ignite and blaze."
---The James Beard Cookbook, in collaboration with Isabel E. Callvert [E.P. Dutton:New York] 1961 (p. 149)
This is a famous, classic seafood dish served in Paris and in outstanding French restaurants in New York. It's not easy to prepare but the finished product is elegant.
2/3 cup of olive oil
6 shallots or small green onions
8 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh, or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried, tarragon
2 cups of dry white wine
Salt, pepper, cayenne
Kill the lobsters, then split and clean according to the directions under Broiled Lobster. The remove the claws and cut the tails in sections, cutting through where the shells are jointed. Wash well. Heat the olive oil in a very large kettle and when hot add the pieces of lobster in shell. Toss them about in a hot oil, using a pair of tongs, until the shells are colored red and the lobster meat is seared. Remove the lobster pieces to a hot platter and add the butter to the oil in a kettle. Peel and chop the onion, shallots and garlic. Saute in the hot butter and oil until lightly colored. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes and add these to the onion mixture. Add the parsley, tarragon, thyme, bay leaf and wine and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add the tomato puree and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Pour the cognac over the lobster pieces and ignite to blaze. Then return the lobster to the kettle to cook in the sauce, cover tightly and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice."
Allow a 1 1/2- to 2 -pound lobster for each person. Have your fish dealer split and clean them for you (but you must cook them very soon after) or do it yourself. To clean: place the live lobster on a work board or table and using a heavy, sharp knife and mallet, insert the point of the knife between the body and tail shells and drive it through to sever the spinal cord. When the lobster stops moving, turn it over on its back and split it lengthwise from thead to tail, cutting it into two parts. Remove the stomach and intestinal tract but leave the grayish colored liver and the row, or "coral," if there is any. Brush the flesh of each half with plenty of melted butter and broil in a heated broiler for 12 to 15 minutes. Baste frequently with additional butter as the lobster cooks or it will dry out. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with melted butter and lemon wedges."
4 lobsters (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
1/2 cup fresh sweet butter
3/4 pound onions, peeled and diced
1/3 teaspoon greshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghettini
Split the lobsters lengthwise down the middle. Renmove head sacs and intestinal beins and discard. Chop parsley and garlic together. Combine butter and olive oil in a large skippet and heat. Add onions and sautee slowly to medium brown. Ad lobsters, meat side down, and saute for 10 minutes. Turn lobsters, add parsledy and garlic, and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes. Add salt, red and black pepper, and marinara sauce. Stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes longer. Uncover and cook slowly for another 20 minutes. Have boiling salted water ready; add the spaghettini and cook for about 10 minutes, or until done to your taste. Serve spaghettini on same plate with the lobster and spoon the sauce over all. Serve a chilled Chiaretto del Garda or Soave. Serves 4 to 6."
---Leone's Italian Cookbook, Gene Leone [Harper & Row Publishers:New York] 1967 (p. 119)
Lobster Newburg first surfaces in the 1880s. Its was among the most popular dishes served in the American Pavilion at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893. Where did this dish originate and how did it get its name? There are several interesting versions of the "official" story. Most agree on two points: the restaurant making this dish famous (Delmonico's) and the person for whom the dish was named (Ben Wenberg). The story of tbe morphing from "Wenberg" to "Newburg" is fuzzy. This entertaining yarn provides the most detail:
"Of all the 'characters' who passed through Delmonico's hospitable doors--at Fourtheenth Street and also at Twenty-sixt--few were as odd, and none was so unlucky, as the man who just missed having his name on the tongues of millions through generations unborn. Ben Wenberg was a sea captain engaged in the fruit trade between Cuba and New York. When on shore, he bivouacked at Delmonico's. In regard to his food and attire he was extremely fastidious: no salty pea jacket or rakis nautical cap for him; he was a dandy. His usual costume was a long Prince Albert coat of fine cloth with a diagonal weave, pantaloons tailored snug and shaped to his instep, high-heeled boots with pointed toes made of glove leather to his order by Adam Young, the fashionable bootmaker, and the latest thing on shiny toppers crowning his iron-grey curly hair. Ben Wenberg allowed no one to come between him and the table; yet though he ate industriously, he was as thin as a rail. One day in 1876, home from a cruise, he entered a cafe at Madison Square and announced that he had brough back a new way to cook lobster. Calling for a blazer (a chafing dish with spirit lamp), he demonstrated his discovery by cooking the dish beside his tale, and invited Charles Delmonico ('Old Charley') to taste. Charles said, 'Delicious!' and forthwith entered the dish on the restaurant menu, naming it in honor of its inventor, or at least its introducer to New York, Lobster a la Wenberg. It caught the public fancy and became a standby of the after-theater suppers that were in vogue, and Wenberg preened himself upon having perpetuated his name to the remotest posterity. Unfortunately, he and 'Charley' had a falling out. The cause is not known, but the consequence was devastating to Wenberg's expectations of gastronomic immortality. Charles erased the dish from the menu; but since patrons kept calling for it, he was forced to compromise. By typographical sleight-of-hand, he reversed the spelling of 'Wen" to 'New" and Lobster a la Newberg was born. Such was the power of Delmonico. A man who witnessed Ben's initial preparation of the dish recounted the scene thirty years afterwards, and recalled particularly that at the end Wenberg took from his pocket a small flask, and shook into the pan a little of the reddish powder it contained--the inevitable 'secret ingredient.' Delmonico's cooks were satisfied that the stuff was only cayenne pepper, though Ben never told. This same witness of Wenberg's first demonstration maintained that the dish, when 'made to perfection,' should contain only 'lobster, sweet cream, unsalted butter, French congac, dry Spanish sherry, and cayenne pepper.' The recipe standardized by Charles Ranhofer departed from this formula, and for those who may wonder how Lobster a la Newberg (or a la Delmonico, as it was interechangeably called) was prepared at its birthplace, here is the Delmonico recipe ver batim." [See recipes below, 1967]
---Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor, Lately Thomas [Houghton Mifflin Company:Boston] 1967 (p. 220-222)
The more popular version of this story casts Ben Wenburg as a business man who requests his name not be connected with the dish:
"If you are a gourmet you like lobster. The man who made lobster a la Newburg famous refused to have his name to with it. He gave Delmonico the recipe, and Del gave the delicacy the name it bears today, while that of the benefactor is never heard outside of the little circle in which he lived. Well, the creator of the dish was Benjamin Wenburg, a New York broker. He used to take his luncheons at Delmonico's downtown place, not many blocks from the Battery. When he told Del how to make lobster a la Newburg--it had no name then--Del put it on his bill and called it lobster a la Wenburg. Wenburg got angy about it and told Delmonico if he didn't remove his name he would feed elsewhere. The big caterer reversed the first syllable and the title has been what you have been accustomed to see ever since."
---"Naming a Famous Dish," Monticello Express [IA], April 25, 1917 (p. 10)
Other "creation" stories credit Delmonico chefs inventing this dish for regular customer Wenberg, naming it in his honor. Wenberg refused. Presumably, there was a disagreement between Wenberg and someone at Delmonico's but the details are lost.
What's the true story? We may never know. It strikes us unlikely that any patron, no matter how talented in the culinary arts, would publicly introduce a a dish at Delmonico's. But it was a different time and place and anything is possible. The fact that none of these stories agree on the correct spelling of Benjamin Wenburg/Wenberg's (Newberg/Newburg) name may or may not mean anything. Style manuals with standardized spelling are a relatively new concept in media reportage. Sometimes, like familiar tales recounted at family meals, it makes more sense to understand the glory of the story. One fact is certain: tableside chafing dish recipes reigned supreme in this period. What better way to promote any dish than to engage a fanciful story featuring one of the world's most renown restaurants? Lobster Newburg's real legacy is staying power. Brilliant!
We find no print references/recipes for chafing dish lobster Wenberg/Wenburg to date. The New York Public Library's historic menu collection returns the earliest print reference, for Terrapine a la Newburg, served at Delmonicos c. 1884. No recipe; we cannot confirm if this item was similar to later iterations. The earliest Lobster Newburg recipe we've found to date was published in 1887. Newspapers confirm the popularity of the dish: "The demonstration lesson at the Boston Cooking School Wednesday morning. Lobster Newberg" (Boston Daily Globe, April 4, 1899 (p. 4). The dish appears regularly on fine dining menus, along with Turtle Soup and other delicacies. This article pokes fun at this trendy dish by defining it: "Lobster-Newberg--A dish ordered at hotels by those who usually get beans at home." ("Foolish Dictionary," Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1904 p. B8).
Put into a saucepan butter the size of a small egg, and a teaspoonful of minced onion. When it has cooked, sprinkle in a tea- spoonful of flour, which cook also; then stir in on e cupful of the water in which the lobster was boiled, one cupful of milk, one cupful of strong veal or beef stock, pepper, and salt; add the meat of the boiled lobster, and when quite hot pour all in the centre of a hot platter. Decorate the dish with the lobster's head in the centre, fried-bread diamonds (croutons) around the outside; or in any prettier way you choose, with the abundant resources of lobster legs and trimmings."
---Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving, Mrs. Mary F. Henderson [Harper & Brothers:New York] 1883 (p. 118-119)
"Creamed Lobster.--For one pint of lobster meat cut fine, make one pint of white sauce. Season with salt, cayenne, and lemon. Heat the lobster in the sauce but do not let it boil. Serve on toast."
---Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, Mrs. D.A. Lincoln [Roberts Brothers:Boston] 1884, 1889 (p. 183)
If provision is to be made for six or eight persons, use the meat of a lobster weighing about four pounds, or that of two small lobsters, four table-spoonfuls of butter, two of brandy, two of sherry, two teaspoonfuls of salt, one-fourth of a teaspoonful of pepper, half a pint of cream, the yolks of four eggs, and a slight grating of nutmeg. Cut the meat of the lobster into small, delicate slices. Put the butter on the stove in a frying-pan, and when it becomes hot, put in the lobster. Cook slowly for five minutes; then add the salt, pepper, sherry, brandy and nutmeg, and simmer five minutes longer. Meanwhile beat the yolks of the eggs well, and add the cream to them. Pour the liquid over the cooking mixture, and stir constantly for one minute and a half. Take from the fire immediately at the end of that time, and serve in a warm dish. Lobster Newburg may be served as a fish course in a dinner or luncheon. A garnish of trianguar bits of puff paste may be added, or the lobster may be served on toast. No mode of cooking lobster gives a more delicate or elegant dish. Special care must be taken to stir the mixture constantly after the cream and beaten eggs are poured over the lobster until the frying-pan is taken from the fire."
---Miss Parloa's Kitchen Companion, Maria Parloa [Estes and Lauriat:Boston] 1887 (p. 225)
From Mrs. Harriet T. Upton, of Ohio, Alternate Lady Manager.
One tablespoon butter; when hot add one tablespoon flour, four tablespoons cream stirred together; yolks of two eggs, add salt, red pepper and mace; bring to a scalding point, add shrimps and four tablespoons of sherry; serve at once."
---Favorite Dishes: A Columbian Autograph Souvenir Cookery Book, compiled by Carrie V. Schuman, facsimile 1893 edition [University of Illinios Press:Urbana] 2001 (p. 208)
Lobster a la Newburg
---"Relishes: Cooking The at Table--Variety and Abundance," Dora M. MOrrell, Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1894 (p. 21) [NOTE: This article also offers a recipe for Clams a l Newburg.]
Fannie Merritt Farmer's 1896 cookbook distinguishes between Lobster a la Delmonico and Lobster a la Newburg: (select "next page" for Newburg recipe)
Newberg dishes, such as fish, lobster, shrimp, crayfish or crabmeat, are merely reheats--all heated up in a Newburg sauce. This popular sauce is 100 per cent French, although its name is American. The Frenc chef of the old Delmonico's in New York was the one who originally conceived this culinary creation. The name of the town up on the Hudson River had no connection whatsoever with this sauce. Delmonico's wanted to honor one of its best cash customers, by the name of Wenburg, and named this sauce in his honor. Mr. Wenburg accepted only on the condition that the three letters of the first syllable of his name be reversed--hence Newburg. The original recipe was first intended for lobster, but like many others, this sauce may be used for almost any kind of reheated food, including fish, meats, eggs, game, and vegetables. Here is the original recipe as prepared by its creater, French Chef Pascal of the Old Delmonico's:
Cut a live lobster into small pieces and saute it in 2 generous tablespoons of sweet butter. Remove the lobster to a hot platter and keet it hot. To the butter and lobster juices remaining in the pan, add 2 tablespoons of sherry wine, and scrape and stir at the same time, from bottom and sides of the frying pan, so as to remove all the gelatinous particles which may adhere (the French culinary term for this procedure is called 'deglace'). Then, slowly stir in 1 cup of hot, sweet, heavy cream, blending thoroughly. Let this simmer very gently for 15 minutes; strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan; return to a gentle flame, and allow the sauce to reduce to half its original volume, stirring occasionally; then stir in 1/2 cup of hot Bechamel sauce. Boil up once or twice, taste for seasoning and stir in the cooked lobster coral, then, when thofoughly blended, the lobster pieces (or any other kind of cooked fish, meat, eggs and so forth) alternately with 4 tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce. Serve at once, as this sauce cannot wait, and does not keep long. For a dish supreme, add 1 generous tablespon of finely chopped black truffles."
---The Gold Book, Louis P. De Gouy [Galahad Books:New York] 1938(p. 578-579)
Cook six lobsters each weighing about two pounds in boiling salted water for twenty-five minutes. Twelve pounds of live lobster when cooked yields from two to two and a half pounds of meat with three to four ounces of coral. When cold detach the bodies from the tails and cut the latter itno sliceds; put them inta a sautoir [saucepan], each piece lying flat, and add hot clarified butter; season with salt and fry lightly on both sides without coloring; moisten to their height with good raw cream; reduce quickly to half; and then add two or three spoonfuls of Madeira wine; boil the liquid once more only, then remove and thicken with a thickening of egg yolks and raw cream. Cook without boiling, incorporating a little cayenne and butter; then arrange the pieces in a vegetable dish and pour the sauce over."
---Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor, Lately Thomas [Houghton Mifflin Company:Boston] 1967 (p. 222)
Sometimes. the simpler the recipe the more complicated the history. Such is the case with lobster rolls. When it comes to lobster rolls, food historians generally agree on two points:
2. Lobster rolls, as we know them today, are probably a 20th century invention because they require soft hot dog buns.
There seem to be two primary versions of the lobster roll: one is a mayonnaise-based lobster salad sandwich and the other is simply composed of hearty chunks of fresh lobster meat drenched in butter. Both are traditionally served in long (hot-dog type) buns which may be toasted. Pickles and chips are the usual accompaniments. Both are considered standard menu items with shore-based restaurants, diners and lobster shacks (inexpensive family-style outdoor eateries).
"ON A ROLL. Temperature's rising, the surf's pounding, the lobster harvest is at an all-time high. Bring on the lobster rolls! The roll: It must be a stand-alone hot-dog bun, rectangular, flat on both sides, coming to a crisp right angle at the flat base. If it's oval or toasted, do not touch it. If it's not buttered, do not even look at it. The meat: It must be fresh and predominantly from the tail. It must be at least three inches wide at the top, extending at least an inch above the crest of the bun. No less than a quarter-pound of lobster per sandwich. Some joints boast that they use a full lobster in each sandwich, but it takes nearly five lobsters to get a pound of meat. The dressing: The lobster may be mixed with a thin lather of mayo but not salad dressing. Dick Henry, co-owner of the Maine Diner, believes in naked lobster. "All meat," he says. I, however, will accept celery, if finely chopped. "It gives a hint of the taste," agrees Billy Tower, who has sold lobster rolls for four decades at Barnacle Billy's restaurant. The temp: Like a hot-fudge sundae, the ideal lobster roll is a contradiction of temperatures: warm bun, chilled meat. "I'm 60 years old, and that's the way I've always been told it should be," says Georgia Kennett of Five Islands Lobster Co. But it has become quite respectable to serve the meat hot, in which case the lobster should be covered with drawn butter, not mayonnaise, and eaten with a fork and knife."
A survey of current online menus confirms there is no distinct geographic boundary that separates the two versions. You can find both versions in restaurants from the top of Maine to the tip Long Island.
"Lobster rolls. because they are made with hamburger buns, they are definately twentieth century (soft, hamburger yeast buns were first maufactured in 1912)." ---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 345)
"About 1966-67 Fred Terry, owner of the Lobster Roll Restaurant. in Amagansett, New York, produced a recipe containing mayonnaise, celery, and seasonings; mixed with fresh lobster meat placed on a heated hot-dog roll that has come to be known as the "Long Island (New York) lobster roll". According to Carolyn Wyman. lobster meat drenched in butter and served on a hamburger or hot dog roll has long been available at seaside eateries in Connecticut and may well have originated at a restaurant named Perry's in Milford, where owner Harry Perry concocted it for a regular customer named Ted Hales sometime in the 1920s. Furthermore, Perry's was said to have a sign from 1927 to 1977 reading "Home of the Famous Lobster Roll."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 188)
"The lobster roll is a tradition, though not a very old one. My 75-year-old father, who has lived all his life in Maine, says he doesn't remember eating a lobster roll until sometime after World War II. ''It was down around Tenants Harbor,'' he said. ''Some people named Cook had a stand down there where a lobster roll cost 35 cents.''"
---"Fare of the Country: In Maine, Lobster on a Roll," Nancy Jenkins, New York Times, July 14, 1985 (section 10, p.6)
A survey of historic New England cookbooks confirms lobster salad was popular in the 19th century. This is the first recipe we find that suggest serving lobster salad with toast:
Take the meat from a medium sized boiled lobster and cut in small dice. Put into the chafing dish. one rounded tablespoonful of butter. When hot add a tablespoonful minched onion, and cook until it reaches the yellow stage, but not a moment longer. Mix one rounded tablespoonful flour with a teaspoonful (or more, according to taste) of curry powder and stir into the hot butter. Add a cup hot milk or thick cream and stir until it thickens and is smooth and creamy. Add two cups of the diced lobster meat, and as soon as thoroughly heated serve on delicately browned slices of toast crisped crackers."
---New York Evening Post Cook Book, Emma Paddock Telford [New York:1908] (p. 20)
"Thermidor. The name of a lobster dish created in January 1894 at Marie's, a famous restaurant in the Boulevard Saint-Denis in Paris, on the evening of the premiere of Thermidor, a play by Victorien Sardou (according to the Dictionnaire de l"Academie des Gastronomes). Other authors attribute it to Leopold Mourier of the Cafe de Paris, where the chef Tony Girod, his assistant and successor, created thte recipe used today. The name 'thermidor' is also given to a dish consisting of sole poached in white wine and fish fumet, with shallots and parsley, and covered with a sauce made from the reduced cooking liquid thickened with butter and seasoned with mustard."
---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated edition [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 1208)
"Thermidor. A designation given to a method of preparing and cooking lobster in which the creature (up to this point alive) is cut in half and grilled, has its flesh sliced up and returned to the half shell in bechamel sauce with various added flavourings, and is then browned under the grill again and served. It commemorates the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou, for the first-night celebration of which it was created in Paris in 1894."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 342)
"2124 Homard Thermidor
Split the lobster in half lengthways, season and gently grill, then remove the flesh from the shell and cut into fairly thick slices on the slant. Place some Sauce Creme finished with a little English mustard in the bottom of the two half shells, replace the slices of lobster neatly on top and coat with the sauce. Glaze lightly in a hot oven or under the salamander."
---The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, Escoffier, 1903 edition, translated by H.L Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann, [Wiley:New York] 1979 (p. 249)
According to the Encyclopedia Americana [1995 edition] there are approximately 4,500 different species of crabs living on Earth. They are distributed throughout the world. This means? It is probably impossible to tell for sure who (much less where!) ate the first crabs. Food historians tell us crabs were known to ancient Greeks and Romans. How do they know? Art and literature. Historians also tell us crabs were not well liked by these ancient Mediterranean people as food.
"Crab, group of water creatures characterised by their hard, round, flat shells. Several of the larger kinds are very good to eat, but ancient sources do no suggest they were eaten enthusiastically. The various classical names cannot be confidently attached to individual species; they varied in their reference across the ancient world and through time."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 105)
"Prehistoric period. Crabs are thought to have been taken from the deep waters off Oronsay and Oban by means of plaited baskets."
---Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago 1991(p. 17)
The Romans who came to Britain and who lived within reach of the sea must have been happy to enjoy the local seafish, and British fishermen would have had a good market for their catches. Nearer inshore, seafoods such as crab and lobster were taken."---ibid (p. 21)
"Medieval period. The distribution of the more usual forms of fish was carried out mainly by the fishmongers, who had their own guild in London by the middle of the twelfth century. The varied range of their merchandise can be gathered from the accounts of Daniel Rough, who was the common clerk of Romney, Kent from 1353 to 1380 , and a fishermonger as well. His stock included 'oysters, crabs, trout, sprats, porpoise, salmon, haddock, lampreys, mackerel, codling, conger eel, shrimps, red and white herrings, whiting, "pickerelle" [young pike], stockfish, gunards, whelks, tench and "strinkes of pimpernelle" [small eels]'."---ibid (p. 38)
"Renaissance. Lobster, crayfish and crab were greatly enjoyed, though they seldom reach the inland eater. At formal meals they presented difficulties. 'Crab is a slut to carve and a wrawde wight [perverse creature]. By the the the carver in a noble household had finished picking the meat out of ever claw with a knife-point, had piled it all into the 'broadshell', and had added vinegar and mixed spices, the tepid crab had to be sent back again to the kitchen to be reheated before he could offer it to his lord. Crab and lobster were also boiled and eaten cold with vinegar, as were shrimps."---ibid (p. 43-4)
"Eighteenth century. Lobsters, crabs, shrimps and prawns continued to be enjoyed."---ibid (p. 49)
"The early history of crab consumption reflects highly regional tastes. Because of the labor-intensive effort of harvesting crabs, in colonial times the meat was used in small amounts (as was most shellfish) in soups, stews, sauces, and, like other flaked fish, in small fried cakes. Some recipes suggested that other shellfish could be substituted for crab. Blue crab fanges from Delware to Florida but that from Chesapeake Bay is most famous. Snow crab, sometimes called queen-crab. from the colder waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, appeared on the market in the 1960s. Alaska king crab is highly prized for its large meaty claws and legs. Dungeness crab is found on the Pacific coast from Mexico to Alaska. Rock crab ranges from Labrador, Canada to Florida."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 485-6)
"Outdoor "crab feasts" are common enough on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the live hard-shell crabs being forced into a makeshift container. to be steamed in hotly spiced vinegar vapor. Charleston and Savannah both lay claim to the invention of she-crab soup, one of the most delicious of the region's springtime specialties. The soup is based on a combination of the meat oand roe of the female blue crab, which is recognizable by its broad "apron" on the underside of the shell. She-crab soup used to be perpetually on the menu of Charleston's Fort Sumter Hotel. Crabs--in greater variety than on any other continent--were found by settlers on both coasts of North America. Stone crabs, common from North Carolina to Texas, remain abundant in Florida and the Keys, and are trapped around Beaufort, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. There antebellum cooks used to stew them in white wine lace with vinegar; then with a seasoning of nutmeg and anchovy the cook would heat the crab with a good deal of butter and egg yolks, serving it on a large crab shell as a second course. In whatever way it comes to the kitchen, crab meat moves inventive cooks to improvise and sometimes to include extenders among the ingredients for a crab dish. Soft-shell crabs are another matter. They are the blue crabs of Long Island Sound, the Eastern Shore, or to the Gulf of Mexico in that biological state when they have molted on shell and have not yet grown a new one. "
---American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones, Second edition [Vintage Books:New York] 1981 (p. 133-5)
 Crabs , Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Mrs. D. A. Lincoln
Crab cakes, as we Americans know them today, are most often associated with Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay area. They are considered a popular traditional specialty. How did this recipe evolve? Food historians tell us the practice of making minced meat cakes/patties (seafood/landfood) is ancient. Minces mixed with bread/spices/fillers came about for two reasons: taste and economy. Primary evidence suggests recipes for crab-cake types dishes were introduced to the colonies by English settlers. About rissoles and croquettes.
A survey of historic American cookbooks confirms crab recipes were popular from colonial days forward. In the 19th century crab recipes proliferated. Many of these combined bread crumbs and spices; some were fried. These recipes are variously called "to stew crabs," "to fry crabs," "to dress crab," "crab patties" or "crab croquettes." Sometimes they stand alone, others they are noted as possible variations under similar fish/shellfish recipes. The phrase "crab cake" appears to be a 20th century appellation.
"Crab cake. A sauteed or fried patty of crabmeat. The term dates in print to 1939 in Crosby Gaige's New York World's Fair Cook Book, where they are called "Baltimore crab cakes," suggesting they have long been known in the South. A "crabburger" is a crab cake eaten on a hamburger bun."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 103)
Take the meat out of the great claws being first boiled, flour and fry them and take the meat out of the body strain half if it for sauce, and the other half to fry, and mix it with grated bread, almond paste, nutmeg, salt, and yolks of eggs, fry in clarified butter, being first dipped in batter, put in a spoonful at a time; then make sauce with wine-vinegar, butter, or juyce of orange, and grated nutmeg, beat up the butter thick, and put some of the meat that was strained into the sauce, warm it and put it in a clean dish, lay the meat on the sauce, slices of orange over all, and run it over with beaten butter, fryed parasley, round the dish brim, and the little legs round the meat."
---The Accomplist Cook, Robert May, facsimile 1685 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 2000 (p. 412)
[NOTE: This book contains several crab-cake type recipes.]
Having taken out the Meat, and cleaned it from the Skin, put it into a Stew-pan, with half a Pint of White Wine, a little Nutmeg, Pepper, and Salt over a slow Fire; throw in a few Crumbs of Bread, beat up one Yolk of an Egg with one Spoonful of Vinegar, throw it in, and shake the Sauce-pan round a Minute, then serve it up on a Plate."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, By a Lady (Hannah Glasse) facsimile reprint with essays [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 95)
Boil the crab well in sat and water, and when cold break it up, mix the meat in the inside of the shell well together, break the large claws, take out the meat, and cut it fine, lay it over the shell-meat as handsome as you can in the shell, put it in the dish, split the chine in two, and put at each end, crack the small claws and put them round; mix some oil and vinegar, a little mustard, pepper, and salt, and put it over the meat in the shell; garnish with parsley."
---The New Art of Cookery According to Present Practice, Richard Briggs [Printed for W. Spotswood, R. Campbell and B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792 (p. 99)
Crab and Lobster Cutlets, Jennie June's American Cookery Book, Jane Cunningham Croly
Lift the shell at both sides and remove the spongy substance found on the back. The pull off the "apron," which will be found on the under side, and to which is attached a substance like that removed from the back. Now wipe the crabs, and dip them in beaten egg, and then in fine bread or cracker crumbs. Fry in boiling fat from eight to ten minutes, the time depending upon the size of the crabs. Serve with Tartare sauce. Or, the egg and bread crumbs may be omitted. Season with salt and cayenne, and fry as before. When broiled, crabs are cleaned, and seasoned with salt and cayenne; are then dropped into boiling water for one minute, take up, and broiled over a hot fire for eight minutes. They are served with maitre d'hotel butter or Tartare sauce."
---Miss Parloa's New Cook Book and Marketing Guide, [Estes & Lauriat:Boston MA] 1880 (p. 129)
---News [Frederick MD], April 24, 1899 (p. 3)
These are precisely the same as lobster cutlets. Form into pyramid shaped croquettes, dip in egg and bread crumbs, and fry in hot fat."
---Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book, Sarah Tyson Rorer [Arnold and Company:Philadelphia] 1902 (p. 121)
The proliferation of commercial canned crab products promoted recipes. "Crab Meat in Cans. The clean, white meat, picked out and packed by the Tangier Packing Co., by reputation the best in their line. Directions on each can for preparing. crab cakes."---Trenton Times [NJ], November 1, 1909 (p. 4)[NOTE: recipe not included in the advertisement.]
2 heaping cups of cooked crab meat
Blend the flour wtih a little cold milk, mix in the yolks of the eggs and the salt, pepper, and the little bit of onion, then add the milk, and put on the fire to cook slowly. Stir constantly. When it begins to thicken, add the crab meat and last of all the beaten whites of eggs. Cool and shape into croquettes, dip in cracker crumbs and fry in deep lard. Decorate the dish with parsley and cubes of lemon."
---Old Southern Receipts, Mary D. Pretlow [Robert M. McBride:New York] 1930 (p. 23-4)
Take one pound of crab meat for each four crab cakes. Put crab meat into mixing bowl, add one and one-half teaspoons salt, and two teaspoons white pepper, one teaspoon English dry mustard and two teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, one yolk of egg and one soup spoon cream sauce or mayonnaise, one teaspoon chopped parsley. Mix well, making four crab cakes, press hard together, dip into flour, then into beaten eggs, then into bread crumbs. Fry them in hot grease pan.--Mr. W.L. Jackson, Managing Director, Lord Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore."
---Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Maryland: An Anthology From a Great Tradition, compiled by Frederick Philip Stieff [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1932 (p. 44)
2 cups crab meat
1/2 teaspoon onion juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
rich cream sauce
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add to it the flour; when well mixed, add the milk gradually, stirring constantly until smooth. Add the egg yolk beaten up with Worcestershire sauce and onion juice, and the crab flakes, seasoning with salt and pepper. As soon as this mixture is cool enough, put it in the icebox to get very cold. Form into flat cakes; dredge in finely sifted bread crumbs and fry on both sides in either lard or butter. Serve on a hot platter with Rich Cream sauce poured over the cakes. Crab meat used must be from the body part of the crab, and must be very carefully picked over."
---The National Cookbook: A Kitchen Americana, Shiela Hibben [Harper & Brothers:New York] 1932 (p. 112)
1 pund crab meat
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Put crab meat into mixing bowl; add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, cream sauce or mayonnaise, and chopped parsley. Mix well, making four crab cakes; press together, dip into flour, then into beaten eggs, then into bread crumbs. Fry the cakes in a hot greased pan."
---New York World's Fair Cook Book: The American Kitchen, Crosby Gaige [Doubleday, Doran & Company:New York] 1939 (p. 42-43)
1 pound cooked blue-claw crab meat
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
dash cayenne pepper
dry bread crumbs Combine the crab meat with the mustard, mayonnaise, egg, salt, Worcestershire, cayenne, and bread. Shape into 8 cakes and roll in bread crumbs. In a heavy frying pan heat the oil until barely smoking and cook cakes at moderate heat until brown on one side, then turn carefully and brown the other side. (4 servings)"
---The American Regional Cookbook, Nancy & Arthur Hawkins [Prentice Hall:Englewood Cliffs NJ] 1976 (p. 48)
Crab dip, as we Americans know it today, descends from a long line of creamy minced crab [lobster, oyster] dishes, served hot, warm, or cold. Textures, flavors, and dippers vary; the underlying culinary theme does not. NOTE: The term "dip" first surfaces after WWII. Excellent case study in why it's important to examine recipes below the title surface. 
Take two Crabs, or Lobsters, being boiled, and cold, tale all the Meat out of the Shells and Bodies, mince it small, and put it all together into a Sauce-pan;add to it a Glass of White Wine, two Spoonfuls of Vinegar, a Nutmeg grated, then let it boil up till it is thorough hot; then have ready half Pound fresh Butter, melted with an Anchovy, and the Yolks of two Eggs beat up and mixed with the Butter; then mix Crab and Butter all together, shaking the Sauce-pan constantly round till it is quite hot; then have ready the great Shell, either of the Crab or Lobster, lay it in the Middle of your Dish, pour some into the Shell, and the rest in little Saucers round the Shell, sticking three Corner Toasts between the Saucers, and round the Shell. This is a fine Side-dish at a second Course."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, facsimile 1747 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 94)
Choose three or four Crabs, pick the Meat clean out of the body and claws, take care no spungy part be left among it or any of the Shell, put this clean meat into a stew pan, with a little white wine, some pepper and salt, and a little grated Nutmeg, heat all this, well together, and then put in some Crumbs of Bread, the yolks of two Eggs beat up and one Spoonfull of Vinegar. Stir all well together; make some toasted Sippets, lay them in a plate and pour in the crabs. Send it up hot."
---A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1770, edited with an introduction by Richard J. Hooker [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 59)
"Scalloped Crabs. --Pick the meat from the shells, mince it, and mix with a cream sauce; season with salt and pepper, put the mixture in the crab shell or in scallop shells, cover with buttered cracker crumbs, and bake till brown."
"Cream Crab One tablespoon of butter, three tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon of minced onion, one blade of mace, salt and pepper; meat of one crab in rather large pieces; one pint of cream; one egg beaten. Cook onion and mace in the butter. Take spoon and remove onion and mace. Add the flour and cook a minute. Then add cream and cook until it thickens. Season. Add beaten egg and then the crab. When crab is hot, serve on toast.--Mrs D. A. Lindley, Sacramento, Cal."
Utilize the contents of a can of crab's meat and with a silver fork flak into small pieces, adding two chopped hard-boiled eggs, one tablespoonful of minced parsley and salt and paprika to taste; meanwhile prepare in the chafing dish about two cupfuls of rich cream sauce, by blending together an even tablespoonful each of melted butter and flour and diluting to the proper consistency with milk or cream; be sure that the sauce boils, then stir in the other ingredients and serve on rounds of hot buttered toast, garnishing each portion with a little grated egg yolks. This can be served on crab shells."
---"Tried Recipes," The Evening Independent [Massilon OH] , January 27, 1912 (p. 6)
Cream together four tablespoonfuls of butter and two tablespoonfuls of flour. Heat thoroughly in a double boiler, two cups milk (not boiling), add flour and butter, stirring constantly. Cook until creamy. Remove from fire and stir in one egg well beaten. Mash one hard-boiled egg, mince a little parsley and add with salt and red pepper to sauce. Then add two pounds of crab flakes and put in baking dish, cover with bread crumbs and bake until brown.--Mrs. John P. Caspar, Washington County." (p. 43)
1 lb. lump crab flakes, 1 pint milk, 1/2 pint cream, 1/4 lb. butter, 1/2 oz. salt, 2 pinch cayenne pepper, 1 glass sherry wine, 2 tablespoons flour. Melt ha;lf the butter in a a sauce-pan, add the flour and make the cream sauce with the heated milk, set aside to keep it hot. Heat the rest of the butter in a sauce-pan, add the crab meat and fry a little, try not to break up the lumps, add salt, pepper, cream sauce and cream. Let boil for two or three minutes, then add the sherry wine, mix well. Make sure that it doesn't boil. Serve very hot in chafing dish with toast.--Wm. H. Parker, Manager, Hotel Emerson, Baltimore." (p. 47)
---Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Maryland: An Anthology From a Great Tradition, Frederick Philip Steiff [G. P. Putnam's Sons:New York] 1932
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup cooked strained tomatoes
1/4 cup hot milk
Cook green pepper in butter. Add the flour, seasonings and tomatoes, and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add cheese, mix well, then add beaten egg. Cook and stir constantly until slightly thickened. Add milk and crabmeat, mix and heat again. Serve on fresh bread croustades. Garnish with mixed sweet pickle." ---Favorite Recipes from Marye Dahnke's File, Kraft-Phenix Cheese Corporation [Chicago IL] 1932 (p. 37)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can (6 1/2 ounces) dungeness crab meat, drained and flaked
1 tablespoon grated onion
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients; chill thoroughly. Use dip for crackers, toast, pretzels, califlowerettes, celery sticks. Yield:2 cups dip."
---"Alaska Crab Fest," Celmentine Paddleford, Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1955 (p. J34)
2 cups sharp cheese
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1 can crab meat
Simmer and place in a chafing dish to keep warm. Serve as a dip with crackers or potato chips."
---Carroll Daily Times Herald [IA], December 24, 1956 (p. 5)
3 tbsp. sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thick cream sauce
Remove bones from crabmeat and shred it quite fine Add cheese to cream sauce and stir until cheese melts, then add crabmeat and horseradish. Put a thick layer of crabmeat on each Melba round, and run under a broiler flame for a few seconds before serving."
---"Speaking of Foods: Collecting Dips? Here Are New Ones," Mason City Globe Gazette [IA], January 2, 1957 (p. 14)
1 6 1/2-oz. can crab meat, flaked
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Combine with other ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups."
---"Dips and Crackers Will Make Party," Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1961 (p. A6)
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
Melt butter in 1-qt. saucepan. Add onion and green pepper and cook until tender but not browned. Mix cream and cornstarch, then stir into soup along with egg yolk. Add soup mixture to vegetables. Drain crab meat and pick out any pieces of shell. Flake the crab and add to vegetables along with sherry and nutmeg. Cook and stir until thickened. Serve in a chafing dish with crackers. Makes about 1 3/4 cups."
---"Cheese Is a Sharp Base for Hot Dips," Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1967 (p. F24)
1 7 1/2-oz. can crab meat
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Drain crab and slice. Soften tartar sauce mix in water. Blend with mayonnaise and sour cream. Fold in crab. Chill several hours before serving. makes 1 1/2 cups crab dip."
---"Do the all ahead: Crab Appetizers Suit Mood," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1968 (p. G30)
1 7 1/2 oz. can or 1/2 lb. frozen crab meat
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
Few drops hot pepper sauce
3 artichokes, cooked and chilled
Drain canned crab meat and slice. Or thaw, drain and slice frozen crab meat. Blend together sour cream and cream cheese. Add crab meat, lemon juice, horseradish, seasoned salt, pepper sauce and chives. Mix thoroughly. Cover and chill to blend flavors. Pull center leaves or artichokes and remove chokes. Spoon crab dip in cavities. Allow guests to pull leaves from artichokes and use as dippers for crab mixture. makes 6 to 8 servings."
---"Dandy Dippers," Los Angeles Times, February 7, 1971 (p. 40)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 (6 1/2-to 7 3/4 ounce) can crab, undrained
Spread almonds in a shallow pan and bake at 350 degrees 4 minutes or until golden. Turn out of pan. Beat cream cheese with lemon juice, undrained crab and curry powder until well blended. Mix in half toasted almonds. Turn dip into 2-cup baking dish or oven-proof bowl. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the shape of the dish (deeper dish takes longer). Dip is done when pick inserted in center comes out fairly dry and center is hot. Top with remaining almonds and serve hot with chips or raw vegetables."
---"Culinary SOS," Rose Dosti, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 1985 (p. L8)
1/4 cup chopped dill pickle
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
In a small bowl combine all ingredients except crab meat. Blend well, then stir in crab meat. Serve with crusty French bread, or omit the crab and serve as a tangy dipping sauce for cooked shrimp, crab legs or raw vegetables. Makes about 2 cups or 8 hors d'oeuvres servings. Recipe may be doubled."
---"Festive*New*Lean," Philadelphia Tribune, February 27, 1996 (p. C1)
While fried wantons filled with seafood and vegetables were known to ancient Chinese cooks, crab rangoon is most definately a very modern convention. Why? Cream cheese (indeed, nearly all dairy products) is not indigenous to Chinese cuisine. The earliest mention we find for crab rangoon was printed in a New York Times (no recipe) April 28, 1958 (p. 18) in a review of Trader Vic's at the Savoy-Plaza. Decription reads "This is a crab meat deep-fried in a crisp, thin shell." There is no mention whether the reviewer (Craig Claiborne) liked these or not. The earliest recipe we have for Crab Rangoon was published by Trader Vics in the 1960s.
This makes perfect sense. After World War II Chinese, Japanese and Polynesian foods were considered exotic and trendy. Many traditional foods were adapted to suit American tastes and ingredients. Some of these, (possibly because Americans were used to the flavor mixed with crab), included cream cheese.
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg yolk, beaten.
Chop crab meat and blend with cheese and seasonings. Put 1/2 teaspoon of mixture in center of noodle square, fold square over cornerwise. Moisten edges slightly with beaten egg and twist together. Fry in deep fat until delicately browned. Serve hot. Makes filling for 10 to 15 squares."
---Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1968 (p. 122)
Shrimp to some, prawns to others. These curious crustaceans have been enjoyed by humans from prehistoric times forward. Cooking methods (boiling, grilling, steaming, deep frying, stir fry), recipes (cold mayonnaise salads, spicy cocktails, popcorn-style, cassererole sauce) and meal position (appetizer, sauce, main course, street food) vary through time and culture. Where did it all begin?
"Squilla" is the Latin word for shrimp. According to the food historians, both ancient Romans and Greeks had ready access to very large specimens and enjoyed their shrimp prepared many different ways. Apicius, an ancient Roman author, collected these recipes in his cookbook.
"Shrimp and prawn, group of small river and sea creatures. The larger species are easily cooked and very easily eaten. In Italy, if Marital is to be believed, the shrimp was at its best in the tidal reaches of the River Liris in southern Latium. This river reached the sea at Minturnae. Now it was at Minturnae, according to legend, that Apicius lived--eighty years before Marital's time--and enjoyed the local magnificent shrimps, which grow bigger than the shrimps at Smyrna, bigger indeed than the lobsters at Alexandria' to quote Athnaeus. Pliny the Younger boasted of good shrimps a little further north, at his Laurentan villa. Shrimps danced when roasted on the coals, Ophelion tells us. The were served honey-glazed at the dinner described by Philoxenus, and in general in ancient cuisine they were roasted, or fried in a skillet, rather than boiled."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 301)
"There have always been customers for shrimp ready to fall upon them whenever and wherever they could be delivered. In the ancient Mediterranean world, where fishing was on an artisanal scale and almost everybody lived close to the water, the Greeks preferred the larger types of shrimp even to lobster, and cooked them wrapped in fig leaves. The Romans made the finest grade of all their all-purpose sauce, liquamen, from shrimps. When Apicius heard that there were particularly large, luscious ones in Libya, he chartered a ship to sample them on the spot himself, but he was so much disappointed by the first ones brought to him aboard ship that he sailed home without ever setting food on shore."
---Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World, Waverley Root [Smithmark:New York] 1980 (p. 460)
"The word shrimp derives from Middle English shrimpe, meaning "pygmy" or the crustacean itself. Shrimp harvesting was known as early as the seventeenth century in Louisiana, whos bayou inhabitants used seine nets up to two thousand feet in circumference. Only after 1917 did mechanized boats utilize trawl nets to catch shrimp."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 294)
The difference between these two items appears to be contextual. There are biologic, semantic and legal definitions. General descriptions here:
" Shrimp. a term which always refers to certain crustceans. in the order of Decapoda Crustacia. but which, with the assocaited term 'prawn', is used in different ways on the two sides of the Atlantic--and in other parts of the world, depending on whether the use of the English language has been influenced by the British or by Americans. Since the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) has taken the trouble to produce a comprehensive Catalogue of Shrimps and Prawns of the World (Holthuis, 1980), they may be allowed to explain: 'we may say that in Great Britain the term 'shrimp' is the more general of the two, and is the only term used for Crangonidae and most smaller species. 'Prawn' is the more special of the two names, being used solely for Palaemonidae and larger forms, never for the very small ones. In North America the name 'prawn' is practically obsolete and is almost entirely replaced by the word 'shrimp' (used for even the largest species, which may be called 'jumbo shrimp'). If the word 'prawn' is used at all in America it is attached to small pieces."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2006 (p. 720)
"Prawn. A Crustacean in the order of Decapoda. Prawns differ in the appearance from shrimps in having more slender abdomens and longer leags but the names are used synonymously in commercial trade. Unfortunately, at market "prawn" is univerally applied to any off the larger marine shrimps. The less familiar term "freshwater prawn" refers to paleamonid shrimps, specifically Macrobrachium of which there are more than 100 species on a world basis. The giant Malaysian prawn (M. rosenbergii) is perhaps the bes known and is widely cultured in southern Asia as well as Hawaii and more recently in Puerto Rico. The Tahitian prawn (M. lar) is also widely distributed in the western Pacific Islands, and other species are indigenous to India, the Philippines, Africa, Central and South America. A large native from (M. acanthurus) is found in southern U.S. from the Neuse River in North Carolina to Texas. However, freshwater prawns are only utilized on a local level by individual fishermen at present. Stricly speaking, prawns are andromonous and not totally freshwater curstaceans, but they are harvested in rice fields, ponds and rivers. Prawns are more perishable than marine shrimps and must be iced or flash frozen immediately after capture. Only the tail portion is eaten. The always sweet meat is comparable to lobster in texture and flavor."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 247-8)
"Prawn (Macrobrachium acanthurus). A Crustacean similar to a shrimp but with a more slender body and longer legs. The name is from Middle Englsih prayne. At market the term prawn is often used to describe a wide variety of shrimp that are not prawns at all. The only native American species is found in the South, ranging from North Carolina to Texas. Prawns are cultivated in Hawaii."
---Encyclopedia of American Food& Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 255)
"The terms "shrimp" and "prawn" are used almost interchangeably. Americans primarily use the word "shrimp" for large and small crustaceans in the Penaeidae and Pandalidae families. Elsewhere in the world "prawn" usually describes a smaller creature."
---Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2007 (p. 536)
Presumably, prawns have been consumed from prehistoric times forward. Although written recipes did not exist in the earliest times, we can assume prawns were boiled (perhaps with seasoning) similar to lobsters and other crustaceans. It is possible tiger (jumbo) prawns were eaten by themselves or as protein part of soups and stews. The earliest print recipes (Apicius, Ancient Rome) confirm boiling and add mincing (combined with spices, fillers to achieve patties) as popular ways for preparing seafood.
These modernized recipes originally appeared in Apicus, Book II: Minces. They were served as starters or side dishes. The original [pro-translit] text does not specifically state prawn or shrimp. Recipes specify sea-onion, crab, lobster, cuttle fish, ink fish, spiny lobster, scallops and oysters. Presumably prawns/shrimp could have been treated similarly. Book IX [Seafood] offers recipes for boiled lobster and minced lobster tail meat. These might have been "main" courses. Squill or Prawn Patties (Apicus 44)
. Patties of squills or large prawns: The prawns or squills are removed from their shells and ground in a mortar with pepper and the finest garum. Patties are formed with the meat.
1 3/4 lb (800 g.) prawns, squills, or shrimp (shelled weight)
These seafood patty recipes are all fairly similar, differing mainly in the type of fish used. This recipe for squills or prawns (you can also use shrimp) is particularly delicate. Scald the crustaceans in boiling water so that the heads and shells can be easily removed. grind the meat in a mortar with the garum and pepper and form patties from this mixture. I suggest wrapping each of these in caul fat. so that the patties do not fall apart. The boil or fry in a bit of olive oil."
---A Taste of Ancient Rome, Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, translated by Anna Herklotz [University of Chicago Press:Chicago] 1992 (p. 132)
The prawn balls are cooked in a special cooking sauce made with fish sauce and water known a hygrograum. A modern counterpart would be a 'court bouillon' designed for poaching. This hydrograum is flavoured simply with celery leaves and pepper.
2/3 tsp lovage seeds
pinch asafoetida resin or powder
2 desserts poons soft bread crumbs
1 coffee cup of fish sauce
a small handful of celerly leaves
Peel and clean the intestinal tract from the prawns. Pound or process into a paste. Roast and grind the three spices, mix them with the pepper and add to the prawn paste with the egg and bread crumbs. Process until combined. In a small, deep frying-pan place 1 measure of fish sauce to 7 measures of water using a small coffee cup. To this add the green leaves from a head of celery. Bring to a simmer. Check the seasoning, adjust with more pepper if necessary. Using two large teaspoons, make egg shaped balls by scooping the mixture from one spoon to the other. Drop them in the simmering hydrogarum and gently cook until they have set (no more than 4-5 minutes). Serve warm with salad leaves dressed with an oenogarum."
---Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today, Sally Grainger [Prospect Books:Devon] 2006 (p. 49)
If you are studying ancient prawns in a different culture (Maori?) or period (18th century?) your best bet is to examine period cooking techniques/vessels. Prawns might have been steamed, roasted, &c. In the absence of prawn references, substitute crab, lobster & scallop. Shrimp, of all sizes are generally treated in the same manner.
Although people have been combining fish with spicy sauces since ancient times, the "shrimp cocktail," as we Americans know it today, belongs to the late 19th/early 20th century. A survey of American cookbooks confirms the combination of shellfish (most typically oysters) and a spicy tomato-based sauce (usually ketchup spiced with horseradish, tabasco, and cayenne) served in tiny cups as appetizers was extremely popular in the early part of the 20th century. There are several variations on this recipe.
Oysters were original the "cocktail" shellfish of choice. Shrimp variations were popular in Cajun/Creole cooking before they begin to show up in "mainstream" cookbooks. Presumably this is because oysters were "wildly" popular with Americans during the late 19th century. Shrimp, less so. Tabasco, a common ingredient, is also a product of Louisiana. Avery Island, to be exact.
Incidentally, "cocktail" appetizers (think fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail) were extremly popular during the 1920s, the decade of Prohibition. In the 1920s, these appetizers were actually served in "cocktail glasses" originally meant to hold alcoholic beverages. It was a creative way to use the stemware!
What was the popular brand we used to buy in supermarkets?
Sau Sea brand shrimp cocktail was the brand we all remember. Individual portions packed in thick, reusable glasses. Some of us still have them!
According to the records of the US Patent & Trademark Office, Sau Sea shrimp products were introduced to the American public December 12, 1948. The inventors of this product were Abraham Kaplan and Ernest Schoenbrun, based in New York City. Company & product history here. Product photo.
The company & brand (individual seafood cocktails packed in glass) remain viable. Our local food store in northern NJ sells the product next to the imitation crab and lobster products. online.
"Shrimps in Tomato Catsup
100 River Shrimp
3 Hard-Boiled Eggs, Salt, Pepper and Cayenne to Taste.
Boil the shrimp and pick. Put them into a salad dish. Season well with black pepper and salt and a dash of Cayenne. Then add two tablespoonfuls of tomato catsup to every half pint of shrimps. Garnish with lettuce leaves and hard-boiled egg and serve."
---Picayune's Creole Cook Book (second edition), facsimile 2nd edition, 1901 [Dover Publications:New York] 1971 (p. 67)
Savoury cocktails are usually made of raw fish, although combinations of raw and smoked fish are sometimes used, and in rare instances good-sized bits of broiled mushrooms and sweetbreads are used instead of the fish. These savoury cocktails should be properly served in cocktail glasses, which are in turn imbedded in cracked ice-soup plates or the new glass oyster plates being used for the service. If the cocktail is mixed with the sauce in the glass, a bit of parsley may top it, or pieces green may be placed, wreath fashion, around the cocktails. If you do not posses cocktail glasses, hollowed-out green peppers or tomatoes may be used, or the cocktail sauce with the savoury ingredient may be thoroughly chilled and served in ordinary small cocktail glasses. In this case the green is placed at the base.
General Recipe for Cocktail Sauce (Individual service)
1/2 tablespoonful lemon juice
1/4 teaspoonful celery salt
Combine the ingredients in the order given, mixing them well. If desired, a half teaspoonsful of olive oil may be added. Lobster, Shrimp or Crabmeat Cocktail: Allow to each person one-third cupful of diced lobster meat, diced cooked or canned shrimps, or shredded crabmeat; combine with cocktail sauce and serve as directed."
---Mrs. Allen n Cooking, Menus, Service, Ida C. Bailely Allen [Doubleday, Doran & Comapny:Garden City NY] 1924 (p. 112-3)
[NOTE: This book also contains recipes for Oyster Cocktail, Clam Cocktail and Sea-Food Cocktail. It also provides instructions for Frozen Fish Cocktails.]
The oldest reference to shrimp cocktail in the New York Times is this advertisement: "Pride of the Farm Tomato Catsup. Cocktail Sauce for Christmas Dinner. Start you dinner with an appetizer. An oyster, clam or shrimp cocktail gives tone as well as relish. For shrimp cocktail, mix the shrimp and catsup together and serve in small glass dish at each place."
Scampi has two meanings: the name of a shrimp (Italian word) and the name of the dish. Shrimp scampi, as we Americans know it today, became popular after World War II. This was when many Italian dishes went "mainstream." According to our sources, "scampi" is not one set recipe, but a generic name applied to several dishes variously composed of shrimp. Notes here:
"What is scampi?". is asked frequently of this department, and a quick check disclosed that it is also asked of fishmongers and Italian restauranteurs. Although the answers received will probably vary with every source consulted, they do fall into two basic categories: a type of shrimp or a preparation of shrimp. Howevever, the ramifications within these two categories are bewildering. In an effort to get an unromantic, unbiased definition of the word; Italian dictionaries of all sizes were consulted. Unfortunately they were peculiarly silent on the subject. Italian cookbooks yielded more relevant, but scarcely more helpful information. Most offered recipes for "scampi" or "shrimp scampi style" and such recipes generally (but not always) called for jumbo shrimp, olive oil, garilc and parsley. "Preparation varies. The methods of cooking, however, varied from boiling to broiling and from frying to baking. Some called for shelling the shrimp in advance; others recommended serving the dish only to "people who are willing to remove the shells at table." Some called for marinating the shellfish in advance; others did not. One even introduced a bread crumb topping. All this would seem to point to the fact that scampi is not, after all, a particular method of preparing shrimp. Some cookbooks and most persons consulted agreed with this and generally (but, again, not always) deveined scampi as shellfish native to the Adriatic (notably the Bay of Venice) that are not available in this country. But the specifications of the shellfish varied from that of a small shrimp to that of a lobster tail and a flavor from similar to Mexican shrimp to unlike anything else. The most authoritative answer came from Mrs. Hedy Giusti-Lanham, who styled herself "practically a scampo--alothough not quite as pink as I should be--because the best ones come from Venice, where I am from." "Plump little beasts. "What are scampi?" she asked rhetorically. "The are like shrimps in this country, only smaller. The larger ones, like the jumbo here, are called scampi imperali; but the normal scampi are quite small. The are plump little beasts and are quite round when they sit on the plate, because the tails curl in close." "No one where I come from would put a heavy sauce on top, like in shrimp cocktail." she commented. "They are usually thrown into heavy boiling water, then deveined and shelled and served lukewarm. Or they may be broiled by basting the shells with oil and putting them under the broiled or over charcoal and basting them while they cook. The shells get very dark and crack when the inside is done. They are served with their shells on. You put a little olive oil and a little lemon on them as you take them out of the shells, and a little pepper--but no salt. Garlic? Oh, no, no, no. They have such flavor that anything else would be an insult." Asked whether there was a great difference between scampi and American-style shrimp, Mrs. Guisti-Lanhan replied: "They are a similar type of person but the accent is very different."
---"Food News: Italian Ways With Scampi," Nan Ickeringill, New York Times, November 17, 1964 (p. 44)
"Scampi. A Venetian term, dating in English print to 1920, that isn America refers to shrimp cooked in garlic, butter, lemon juice, and white wine, commonly listed on menus as "shrimp scampi." The true scampo (scampi is the plural) of Italy is a small lobster or prawn, of the family Nephropidae, which in America is called a "lobsterette.""
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 286)
"Scampi. We seem not to have discovered this simple Italian way of cooking shrimp until after World War II. Certainly scampi weren't familiar beyond big metropolitan areas."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 139)
[NOTE: The earliest reference to shrimp scampi in the New York Times is a restaurant advertisement published May 9, 1956 for The Tenakill Restaurant in Englewood NJ]
"In the latter part of the 20th century the Norway lobster became a standard item on British menus, usually under the Italian name scampi. This reflects the fact that Italians in the Adriatic had for long appreciated it, and had many recipes for scampi cooked in this or that way, which became famouns to tourists."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 541)
"Scampi is the plural of the word scampo, 'shrimp', a word of unkown origin. It started to filter into English in the 1920s, but it was not really until the 1950s and 1960s that it began to make headway. This coincided with a boom in popularity of a dish consisting of large prawn tails coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried: scampi and chips became a staple on cafe and restaurant menus. Soon scampi had well and truly ousted the native English Dublin Bay prawns."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2003 (p. 303-4)
Food historians confirm savory quick-cooked combinations of protein, vegetables, sauces and spices have been consumed from ancient times forward. These dishes are economical, portable, flexible and creative. Recipes vary according to culture and cuisine. "Wiggle" recipes, combining minced canned pre-cooked protein (shrimp, salmon, lobster, chicken), white sauce, and peas are generally placed in late 19th-early 20th century United States. The dish's rise (& fall) is connected with the chafing dish, a "dainty" table-top cooking apparatus introduced in late Victorian times. Chafing dishes powered by canned combustibles (sterno, etc.) appealed to cooks for several reasons. (1) Ornate design entranced stylish hostesses serving the latest food trends. (2) Portability appealed to cooks without access to kitchens. (3) Adaptability empowered both finicky gourmets, economical cooks, & boarding students to easily create foods of their choice. Chafing dishes, like crock pots and casseroles, enjoy cyclical popularity.
The first print Shrimp Wiggle recipe we have (so far) was published by Fannie Farmer in 1898. Ingredients and method confirm this is a convenience dish. Our survey of historic USA newspapers uncovered references to the resurgence of "old-fashioned" chafing dish cookery in every decade from the 1920s forward. The connecting thread is the "wow" factor. What better way to combine simple (generally leftover or canned) ingredients yet impress your guests?
"Shrimp Wiggle. Around the turn of the century college girls kept chafing dishes in their dormitory rooms and cooked on the sly. A favorite production was Shrimp Wiggle: canned peas and shrimp heated in a basic white sauce, then served on toast. If the girls were living dangerously, they might sneak in a little 'cooking sherry.' The dish remained a ladies' lunch staple well into this century with crisp patty shells replacing toast points."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 119)
[NOTE: Primary sources confirm the college/boarding girl references. These cooks more likely busted for use alcohol use than "unapproved" dormitory cooking. Pretty much same as today.]
Our survey of food history books, cookbooks, and historic newspaper articles confirms many interesting notes regarding the genesis and cyclical popularity of this dish. It did not, however, shed light on the origin of the name. Food writers, if they acknowledge the name at all, gently state they do not know its origin.
"Shrimp Wiggle. A dish of creamed shrimp especially popular in New England and the Midwest. The reason for the name is not known, though it may refer to the ease and quickness with which the dish is made."
---Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 295)
This gives us license to explore the possibilities presented by "educated guess." The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, online edition) tells us the word "wiggle" acts as both verb and noun. The primary definition, in both cases, to lightly move in either a side to side or irregular motion. Such movement applies to the general cooking method for accomplishing Wiggle recipes in the chafing dish apparatus. Definitions here:
VERB: "1. intr. To move to and fro or from side to side irregularly and lightly, to waggle; to walk with such a movement, to stagger, reel, also to waddle (now dial.); to go or move sinuously, to wriggle."
NOUN: 1. An act of ‘wiggling’, a light wagging or wriggling movement. to get a wiggle on (U.S. slang), to hurry, bustle. 1816 J. K. PAULDING Lett. from South I. 235 They suffered their hair to grow into a mighty bunch behind, and walked with the genuine Rutland wiggle; that is to say, on tiptoe, and with a most portentous extension of the hinder-parts. 1869 L. M. ALCOTT Little Women II. xxiv. 355 Rob's footstool had a wiggle in its uneven legs. 1896 Inlander Jan. 147 Get a wiggle on you, hurry up; bestir yourself. 1894 Educator (Philad.) Feb. 279 Every fleeting expression of their faces or wiggle of their bodies. 1903 A. ADAMS Log Cowboy iv, Hasn't the boss got a wiggle on himself to-day! 1904 E. ROBINS Magnetic North xvii. 298 You can bunk early and get a four a.m. wiggle on."
Melt four tablespoons butter, add three tablespoons flour mixed with one-half teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. Pour on gradually one and one-half cups milk. As soon as sauce thickens, add one cup shrimps, broken in pieces, and one cup canned peas, drained from their liquor and thoroughly rinsed."
---Chafing Dish Possibilities, Fannie Merritt Farmer 1898 [Little, Brown:Boston] 1902 (p. 66)
"Lobster Wiggle. Into the chafing-dish put two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour. Stir together till like a paste, add one cup of cream or rich milk, half a teaspoon of salt, a dash of paprika, one teaspoon of lemon juice and chopped parsley. Beat till creamy with a whisk, add one and one-half cups of lobster meat cut into small cubes. Cook for a few minutes with the lid on. Just before serving add half a can of French peas. Pour over fingers of buttered toast."
---Good Housekeeping's Woman's Home Cook Book, Isabel Gordon Curtis [Reilly & Britton:Chicago] (p. 254)
"North Adams, Mass---Simply on account of a 'shrimp wiggle' one girl has been expelled from the State Normal school, two other are under suspension and three more on probation. 'Shrimp Wiggle' is a succulent dish. It tastes best when concocted in a chafing dish. When it is made at midnight, in the secrecy of a dormitory room, and especially when all girls midnight parties have been forbidden, it is a feast for goddesses. The goddesses in this case, were the six girls, the 'shrimp wigglers.' They disobeyed the order against chafing dish parties. Principal Murdock also said she should be kept in the girls' rooms. This was to prevent the chafing dishes being used. One girl in Taconic Hall bought alcohol and shrimps and invited five others to a 'wiggle.' It was the hostess who was suspended."
---"No End if Trouble for Six 'Shrimp Wiggle' Maidens," The Portsmouth Times [Ohio], May 6, 1911 (p. 2)
"While the chafing dish as a hobby has long since declined, the eminently practical little article has come completely into is own as a permanent aid in family meal getting and for informal or impromptu hospitality. New uses are constantly being discovered for the blazer in many households and new value attached to it. A popular concoction for luncheon or Sunday night tea is shrimp wiggle. The first proceeding for the tasty wiggle is a sauce made of four tablespoonfuls of butter melted, combined with three of the same measure of flour, half a teaspoonful of salt, one-eight the same of pepper. On this pour gradually three-fourths pint of milk. When the sauce has thickened, turn in a cup of shrimps, broken into pieces; also a cup of peas, cold boiled or canned, the latter drained of their liquor and rinsed."
---"Some of the Fine Art of Chafing Dish Cookery--Recipes That Every Good Housewife Should Know," New York Times, October 8, 1911 (p. X7)
1 oz. (2 tablespoonfuls) butter
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
Buttered graham bread
Melt the butter in the chafing dish, stir in the flour, and blend well, then add the milk and stir and cook for five minutes. Add the chicken cut into small pieces, the drained peas, and the seasonings. Make very hot and serve with slices of buttered Graham bread."
---Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes, Marion Harris Neil [David Mckay:Philadelphia] 1916 (p. 26)
One tablespoonful of butter, two tablespoonfuls of flour, one teaspoonful salt, one-eight teaspoonful paprika, one eight teaspoonful pepper, one cupful rich milk, one cupful fresh or canned shrimps, one cupful canned peas. When I want to try something new in cooking, I always look for a recipe with a cute name, and I think shrimp wiggle sounds so fascinating that I'm just going to try it in in the Cooking Corner. Make a thin, white sauce by melting the butter in top of double boiler, adding the flour, pepper, salt and paprika, stirring well, and adding the milk gradually. This dine, put on bottom of double boiler and let cook slowly, stirring constantly until the sauce comes to the boiling point. Drain the peas carefully, drain the shrimp and add them to your white sauce. Let this heat thoroughly, and in the meantime, toast six pieces of thinly sliced bread to a golden brown, butter, and pour the shrimp wiggle over them. Serve with a dash of paprika on the top of each serving, and parsley at the side of the plate."
---"Jane's Cooking Corner," Jane E. Hall, Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1929 (p. J8)
2 tablespoons flour
Salt, paprika, celery salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon cooking Sherry (optional)
Make a cream sauce of the first three ingredients. When it is boiling, add the shrimp and the peas. Add the egg yolk, cook it for 1 minute over a low flame than add the lemon juice, or sherry. Serve the Wiggle on rounds of buttered tast, or buttered heated rusks, or in hot patty shells. To reheat it, place it over hot water."
---The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, facsimile 1931 edition [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1998 (p. 49-50)
"An old friend has come back to popular favor. The chafing dish is with us once again. Back in the gay nineties, chafing dish suppers were one of the favorite forms of dissipation. When that had died out, the chafing dish retired to the confines of the dormitories of girls boarding schools and was the focal point of many a prohibited midnight gathering. Here and there a devotee of this charming method of cookery has kept the custom of chafing dish meals alive, but for the most part it has been a lost art--until just very recently. The chafing dishes of the nineties were complicated affairs, and one almost had to be an expert firemaker to operate them. Today they are child's play in comparison--all electrified. And they are beautiful things, too. Made of shining chromium plated wear, which resists tarnish and need no polishing to keep them bright and and attractive. Chafing dish suppers are lots of fun: gay, informal affairs, and it seems only right that they would be revived. Let us hope that their popularity will be long continued. Almost any sort of creamed dish may be successfully prepared in a chafing dish. Among my favorites are Shrimp Wiggle, Creamed Mushrooms with Sweetbreads, and frizzled dried beef.
1 cup cooked green peas.
4 tablespoons butter.
Melt butter, add flour and blend thoroughly. Then add salt, and pepper, and the milk gradually, stirring constantly. Add shrimp and peas and cook until sauce is thick and well cooked and peas and shrimp are thoroughly heated."
---"Autumn's Arrival Sends Chafing Dish Back to Work," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1934 (p. B7)
"Every once in awhile someone asks us for a recipe for shrimp wiggle. When we told a friend we didn't know how the dish got its name, or where or whom, it originated, she hazarded a guess that it originally arrived witht he chafing dish. She siad her own acquaintence with shrimp wiggle went back to her college dormitory days in the 20's when she and her friends prepared it over canned heat with canned peas, canned shrimp and canned milk. Naturally they served it with crackers. Sure enough, in Fannie Farmer's 'Chafing Dish Possibilities' published in 1898, we find a recipe for shrimp wiggle composed of a thin white sauce and equal parts of cooked shrimp and green peas; salt and pepper are the only seasonings the austere Miss Farmer added. When that other old-time standard work, 'The Settlement Cook Book' got around to listing the dish, paprika was included. Later recipes, we notice, sometimes include onion. Here's our own latest version of shrimp wigge--with a goodly amount of Worcestershire sauce and some Tobasco Sauce, as well as a canned pimiento, to give it extra heat. This recipe is a fine one for career girls and busy mothers becuase it should be left in the refrigerator overnight so the sauce will thin and the flavors develop. We like it served with crisp buttered toast and a crisp tossed slad. Make the toast as usual, then butter it lavishly and put it in the oven on aluminum foil to get really crisp and have the butter soak in.
Ingredients: 1 pound medium-sized shrimp, 1 can (1 pound and 1 ounce) young small geen peas, milk, 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, 4 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco sauce, 1 diluted canned pimiento (nine oz.). Method: Cook the shrimp in lighly salted simmering water to cover, drain; devein. Cut each shrimp in half length-wise. Drain peas thoroughly; add enough milk to the pea liquid to make 2 cups. Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan over low heat; sitr in flour. Add milk mixture, all at once; cook and stir constantly over moderately low heat, until bubbly and thickened. Stir in salt, Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco sauce (to taste) and minced pimiento. Add shrimp and drained peas. Cover and cool. Turn into container; cover lightly; refrigerate overnight so sauce will thin and flavors develop. Reheat gently in saucepan over low heat, stiring often. Makes 4 seasonings."
---"Shrimp Wiggle is Busy Wife's Favorite," Cecily Brownstone (Associated Press Food Editor), Rocky Mountain Evening Telegram [North Carolina], Feburary 13, 1958 (p. 28)
"Q.You seem to be fascinated by odd names of foods around the world. Have you ever heard of an American dish called shrimp wiggle? And do you have a recipe? A. Indeed, I have heard of it, but it is nothing which I would take national pride. I will make the recipe as concise as possible. Blend four tablespoons each of butter and flour in a saucepan. Add two cups of milk and stir until well blended, thickened and smooth. Season with salt, pepper and celery salt and a little juice squeezed from grated onion. Add two cups of cooked, peeled, deveined srhrimp. Heat and serve. As to why the dish is called shrimp wiggle, who knows? As Edmund Wilson once wrote in an essay on an Agatha Christie novel, 'Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?'"
[NOTE: This answer was reprinted in Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Encyclopedia, Joan Whitman compiler [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. p. 405).]
Archaeological evidence suggests oysters were consumed from the dawn of humanity forwards. Easy to collect, nourishing and tasty, these versatile molluscs were consumed raw, cooked, and preserved. Recipes varied according to place and taste. General notes here:
"The beginnings of mollusc culturing is lost in antiquity, and although it has been suggested by some that the Chinese were the first to cultivate oysters, it is to the Romans that we must look for good evidence. Indeed, there seems little doubt that their energies in cultivating both oysters and snails had an important bearing on the food interest of later peoples in these molluscs."
---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore] 1969 (p. 65)
"Oyster, bivalve shellfish which has been an article of food on Mediterranean coasts since prehistoric times. Heaps of oyster-shells were found by Heinrich Schliemann in his excavations at Mycenae. The classical Hellespont was rich in oysters, the city of Abydos in particular, according to Archestratus. Latin poets agree. The oysters of Britain, which must have been very new to Rome in Mucianus's time, came fro the Kent coast, as they do now. Oysters were a rich man's dish. and wealth was demonstrated by the consumption of large numbers of them. The fact that British oysters were available in Rome shows that they were preserved--presumably in brine, in barrels or earthenware jars--for dipatch on the long journey from the Channel coast."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 245-246)
"Oyster-farming is only one branch of shell-fish farming in general, which covers the culture of all edible shellfish. From the dawn of time to the middle of the nineteenth century, the coasts of France had an almost uninterrupted succession of natural oyster beds; you had only to gather what you wanted. At the time of the Roman occupation they oyster culture was so well described by Ausonius in the fourth century had reached a degree of technical perfection almost the equal of today's. Then, with the barbarian invasions, both Atlantic and Mediterranean oyster farming ceased. Gastronomic history remains silent on the oyster for 1000 years, but the natural beds provided part of the everyday diet of coast-dwelling people. In large inland cities shellfish, difficulty and expensive to bring to market fresh, were the perrogative of the rich from the fourteenth century onwards. Pickled oysters were not to be despised, though. Whether as a result of thoughtless plundering of the beds (100 million oysters a year were gathered at Treguier and Cancale around 1775), or of a series of destructive storms around 1850 even diligent searching could produce only 83,000 dozen oysters. In 1852 Monsieur de Bon, the naval paymaster of Satint-Servan, had the idea of re-seeding the oyster beds in his sector by trying to collect the oyster spawn, or 'spat', with makeshift catchers. He succeeded, and set up new oyster beds on the emerging reefs."
---History of Food, Mauguelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell [Barnes & Noble Books:New York] 1992(p. 396)
"Oyster cookery flourished on both sides of the Atlantic in the 19th cetnury, when oysters were plentiful and cheap in both Britain and N. America. Dishes such as oyster stews and soups, fried oysters, oysters on skewers with bits of bacon, and oyster fritters were common."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2007 (p. 565)
- The Glorious Oyster/Hector Bolitho
- The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell/Mark Kurlansky
"In Britain, oysters have been eaten, and undoubtedly loved, since prehistoric times. There were a particular favorite of the Romans. In fifteenth-century London, oysters were "plentiful, very popular and on the whole inexpensive.". a sixteenth-century traveler to England said that the oysters "which were cried in every street" were better than any he had seen in Italy. Oysters were brined by seventeenth-century husbandmen, who bought them fresh to insure quality. The shells, rich in lime, were used as fertilizer. As with other fish in medieval and early modern England, oysters were often baked in heavily spiced pies, or stewed. Like other small fish, fresh oysters were sometimes fried immediately to prevent spoilage. Despite being inexpensive, oysters were enjoyed by all classes. Oyster-eating quickly became an American pastime. Oysters were served in colonial taverns, along with the usual tavern fare of fowl, beefsteaks, ham, and hot bread. Oysters only became more popular in the nineteenth century. Oyster houses, or saloons as they were often called, specialized in quick, fresh oyster meals. Richard Pillsbury states that they "began appearing in the late eighteenth century as some of the first freestanding restaurants in the nation." Advertised with red and white balloon-shaped signs, they were popular in every coastal city, frequented by lunchtime crowds of men. Some oyster saloons did set aside curtained booths or special rooms for women and faminlies. Commercial oyster eateries were organized along class lines. Nineteeth-century New England cookbooks abounded with "escaloped" oysters, oyster sauce, oyster soup, pie, and patties, stewed oysters, roasted oysters, and fried oysters. Nut oysters were also used in more esoteric recipes. For instance, Mrs. Lee offered "Oyster Attlets," which was a sweetbread, cut into small pieces, a slice or two of bacon, and oysters, seasoned with parsley, shallot, thyme, salt and pepper, then skewered, covered with bread crumbs, and broiled or fried. Oysters also became a condiments. Yankee tavern owners went to great lenghts to have supplies of oysters on hand throughout the winter months. In late autumn they stocked their cellars with oysters. burying them in beds of damp sea sand mixed with cornmeal. To theel their buried treasures alive, they watered the beds twice a week. The mollusks would be dug out of the pile as needed. Oyster pies and patties were favorite ways of serving cellar oysters, perhaps becuase oysters that ascended from the tavern depths were not as fresh as those from the briny deep. At midcentury, oyster parties were the rage among New England aristocracy, as they were in every sophistiscated metropolis. Like many popular foods, oysters were also considered medicinal. Despite the low price of oysters, recipes for mock oysters, made of salsify, the "vegetable oyster," as Lydia Maria Child called it, or of corn, often seasoned with mace, appeared in cookbooks throughout the nineteenth century. The oyster's association with New England, while never exclusive to the region, was strong enough to endur in nostalgic cookbooks."
---America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking, Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill] 2004 (p.104-8)
"Oysters have long been considered a delicacy and have been cultivated for at least two thousand years. The American Indans of the coastal regions enjoyed them as a staple part of their diet, and the earliest European explorers marveled at oysters that were up to a foot in length. Cultivation began soon afterward, and Virginia and Maryland have waged "oyster wars" over offshore beds since 1632. Although the oyster may have been an expensive delicacy in Europe, it was a common item on eveyone's table in America. Bt the eighteenth century the urban poor were sustained by little more than bread and oysters. Coonia citizens dined regularly on chicken and oysters, and the mollusk was an economical ingredient for stuffing fowl and other meats. By the middle of the next century English traveler Charles Mackay could write in his book Life and Liberty in America (1859) that "the rich consume oysters and Champagne; the poorer classes consume oysters and large bier, and that is one of the principal social differences between the two sections of the community." Americans were oyster mad in the nineteenth century, and as people moved and settled westward, the demand for the bivalves in the interior regions grew accordingly. This demand was met by shipping oysters by stagecoach on the "Oyster Line" from Baltimore to Ohio, followed after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 by canal boats laden with oysters. Canned or pickled varieties were available as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, by 1856. Every coastal city had its oyster vendors on the streets, and "oyster saloons," "cellars," or "houses" were part of urban life. Throughout the middle of the century oysters remained plentiful. Even when other foodstuffs were scarce in the Civil War, Union soldiers in Savannah sated their hunger with buckets full of oysters brought to them by the slaves they had liberated. Nowhere was the oyster more appreciated than in New Orleans, where several classic oyster recipes. were created. The demand for oysters was so high that by the 1880s the eastern beds began to be depleted."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 226-7)
"The changing role of that oysters played in American cuisine, from the wigwams of the Wampanoags to the famous New York City oyster saloons and gradually to the dining rooms from Boston to San Francisco, is a saga that progressed from sheer necessity to serendipity. The Indians taught the colonists to harvest and cook oysters in a stew that staved off hunger, and in 1610 food shortages in Jamestown, Virginia, led settlers to travel to the mouth of the James River, where oysters sustained them. Two centuries later, a feature of the American diet became a between-meal snack at a vendor's stand, and a dozen or two half shells became a prelude to a more substantial oyster pie or, on the West Coast, an oyster omelet known as Hangtown fry. Another dish utilizeing the mollusk was roasted fowl stuffed with oysters. By 1840, annual shipments of oysters from the Chesapeake Bay to Philadelphia had reached four thousand tons. By 1859, residents in New York City spent more on oysters than on butchers' meat. The oyster craze of the nineteenth century spread across the country by stagecoach, by boat when the Erie Canal opened to barges, and by rail when the railroads traveled westward. By the 1880s the demand for oysters was so great that the beds that stretched along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts began to be depleted. "
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith, editor in chief [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 224-5)
Angels on Horseback is a popular 19th-early 20th century appetizer composed of skewered broiled oysters wrapped in bacon. Recipe synonyms include "oysters and bacon" and "pigs in blankets." Modern American readers think of pigs-in-blankets as pastry wrapped mini sausages. An excellent lesson in how words, like recipes, change meaning over time. Devils on Horseback is a later recipe, generally substituting stuffed prunes for oysters.
"The angels are oysters wrapped in rashers of bacon, cooked quickly under the grill, and riding on slivers of toast. The dish is a British contribution to gastronomy, and it was popular as a hot savoury postlude to a meal in the later nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century. It seems first to have been mentioned in the 1888 edition of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, which gives an alternate French name, anges a cheval. Now that oysters are decidedly on the luxury list, angels on horseback are often encountered in more downmarket version as party snacks, with cocktail sausages substituting for the shellfish."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 6)
"Little Pigs in Blankets
Season large oysters with salt and pepper; cut fat English bacon in very thin slices, wrap an oyster in each slice, and fasten with a little wooden skewer (toothpicks are the best things); heat a frying-pan and put in the 'little pigs;' cook just long enough to crisp the bacon--about 2 minutes; place on slices of toast that have ben cut into small pieces, and serve immediately; do not remove the skewers; this is a nice relish for lunch or tea, and, garnished with parsley, is a pretty one; the pan must be fery hot before the 'pigs' are put in, and then great care must be taken that they do not burn."
---Queen of the Household, Mrs. M. W. Ellsworth [Ellsworth & Brey:Detroit MI], 2nd edition 1900 (p. 287)
3 Dozen Oysters. Thin Slices of Breakfast Bacon. Minced Parlesey. Sauce Piquante. Wrap each oyster in a very thin slice of breakfast bacon. Lay on a broiler over a baking pan in the hot oven. Remove when the bacon is brown. Each must be fastened with a wooden toothpick. Serve with minced parsley and pepper sauce, or Sauce Piquante."
---Times Picayune Creole Cook Book, facsimile 1901 edition [Dover Publications:Mineola NY] 1971(p. 60)
Take some nice large oysters and roll each in a thin slice of bacon. Impale them on a skewer, season them and grill. Arrange on toasted bread and at the last moment, sprinkle with fried breadcrumbs and a touch of Cayenne."
---Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery [Le Guide Culinaire 1903], A. Escoffier, translated by H.L. Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann [John Wiley:New York] 1979 (p. 577)
Ingredients.--12 oysters, 12 small thin slices of bacon, 12 small round croutes of fried bread, 1/2 a teaspoonful of finely-chopped shallot, 1/2 a teaspoonful of finely-chopped parsely, lemon-juice, Krona pepper. Method.--Beard the oysters, trim the bacon, cutting each piece just large enough to roll round an oyster, season with Krona pepper, sprinkle on a little shallot and parsely. Lay an oyster on each, add a few drops of lemon-juice, roll up tightly, and secure the bacon in position with a large pin. Fry in a frying-pan or bake in a hot oven just long enough to crisp wth bacon (further cooking would harden the oysters), remove the pin and serve on the croutes. Time.--20 minutes. Average cost, 1s 9d to 2s. 9d. Sufficient for 8 or 9 persons. Seasonable from September to March."
---Mrs. Beeton's Every-day Cookery, Isabella Beeton, new edition [Ward, Lock & Co.:London] 1909 (p. 148)
Season 12 oysters with salt and pepper. Wrap each oyster in a thn, short slice of bacon, and fasten with a toothpick. Heat a sauce pan and put in the little pigs; cook just long enough to crisp the bacon. Cut slices of toast into quarters and place one pig in its blanket on each small piece of toast. Serve immediately, garnihsed with parsley. Serves four."
---Ruth Wakefield's Tried and True Recipe, Ruth Graves Wakefield [M. Barrows & Comapny:New York] 1937 (p. 69)
Wrap raw oysters in thin slices of bacon. Fasten with toothpicks. Broil in high heat until bacon is crisp. Garnish with tartar sauce."
---The Lilly Wallace New American Cook Book, Lily Haxworth Wallace [Books, Inc:New York] 1943 (p. 106)
[NOTE: this book also includes are recipes for onions in blankets, cheese in blankets, chicken livers in blankets, shrimps in blankets, olives in blankets and stuffed prunes in blankets.]
Clean oysters. Wrap half a thin slice of bacon around each oyster and fasten with toothpick. Arrange on a wire rack in a baking pan. Bake in a hot oven of 425 degrees F. until the bacon is crisp and brown--about 20 min. Remove toothpicks and serve."
---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, completely revised 7th edition [Farrar & Rinehart:New York] 1944 (p. 317)
These are oysters rolled in bacon, fastened with a skewer, and either grilled or baked in a quick oven 5-6 minutes. Two rolls may be allowed per person and they are served on hot buttered toast."
---Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry & Rosemary Hume [Pan Books:London] 1956 (p. 36) What about Devils on Horseback?
"Devils on horseback are an adapation of angels on horseback. The diabolical version replaces the oysters with prunes or plums. The name first appears in thh early twentieth century, and right from the beginning it seems often to have been used simply as a synonym for angels on horseback."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 1-9)
"One of the British savouries which was popular for a time bore the name Devils on horseback and consisted of prunes stuffed with chutney, rolled up in rashers of bacon, placed on buttered bread and sprinkled with grated cheese, and cooked under the grill. The absence of cayenne pepper or other hot condiments suggests that in this instance the word 'devil' was introduced as a counterpart to 'angel' in Angels on horseback. "
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2006 (p. 248)
Historic cookbooks reveal several interpretations on the Devil & Horseback culinary theme: 
12 thin slices cold chicken, turkey or veal
12 Gardiner's Island, Robbins Island or other large Oysters
Sliced tomatoes, parsley
Spear on each of six small skewers 2 pieces of meat, 2 oysters and two pieces of bacon, fastening each thogether well mixed. Brush with melted butter, place under a broiler and broil; turning once or twice. Serve on toast, garnished with Brown Sauce, parsley, tomatoes."
---Long Island Seafood Cook Book, J. George Frederick [Business Bourse:New York] 1939 (p. 98)
12 large prunes or French plums
(a) a fillet of anchovy curled round an almond , or
(c) an olive stoned and stuffed with pimento
Pour boiling water or hot red wine over prunes; leave half an hour. Simmer in same liquid with half a bay-leaf till tender. If wine is used allow it to be absorved by the prunes until it has practically disappeared. Cool prunes and stone. Fill with any one of the fillings given. Flatten each half-rasher on a board and wrap round a prune. Set on a tin, bake in a hot oven 7-10 minutes. Set each on a piece of hot buttered toast. Arrange a buch of watercress in the centre of the dish."
---Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry & Rosemary Hume [Pan Books:London] 1956 (p. 36) (p. 35-6) Related food? Pigs in Blankets (pastry wrapped sausages)
Modern food historians generally agree the dish called "Oysters Kirkpatrick" was first served in San Francisco's Palace Hotel in the second decade of the twentieth century. Of course, most dishes are not invented. They descend from a long line of related items. Recipes combining broiled oysters and bacon were very popular in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. They range from traditional fare (Angels on Horseback) to spicy selections (Devilled oysters). Oysters Kirkpatrick fall neatly between the two extremes. Notes & recipes here:
"Oysters Kirkpatrick. New Orleans, with its Oysters Rockefeller, has nothing on us, with our Oysters Kirkpatrick. This dish was named in honor of John C. Kirkpatrick, onetime manager of the Palace, in San Francisco. It was, of course, conceived in their kitchen. Like all recipes of renown, this one has many versions--but who am I to quibble with the Palace Hotel's own recipe, graciously sent for inclusion in this book. "Open oysters on deep shell, put in oven for about 3 or 4 minutes until oysters shrink, Pour off the liquor, then add small strip of bacon and cover with catsup and place in a very hot oven for about 5 or 6 minutes (according to oven) until glazed to a nice golden brown." Here's another way it's done, or am I quibbling? Allow pieplates or deep ovenproof plates, one for each serving, and fill them with rock salt within an inch of their tops. Put them into the oven to become very hot. The oysters, usually 6 to a serving, are opened and left in their deep shells, which are placed in little indentations made in the hot salt. On top of each oyster is spread a spoonful of tomato catsup whcih has been mixed with finely minced green pepper. On this goes a piece of partially cooked bacon, next some grated cheese, awith a small dab of butter as the finishing touch. The pans are returned to the oven (450 degrees F.) until the cheese is nicely browned. NOTE: Apparently this entire--and very good-business of roasting oysters in a pan of salt was originally just that--an oyster salt roast. But chefs were bound to add their distinctive touches, it's the artist in them. One was called "Oysters a la Mali," and was a bit more elaborate than most. A sauce made with 1/4 cup of cooked chopped spinach, a tablespoon of minced parsley, a tablespoon of minced tarragon, a clove of garlic, 1/4 cup of butter, a teaspoon of salt, and a cup of white wine, was mixed with 12 ground and drained poached oysters. This mixture was spread on the oysters in their shells (see above). They were then sprinkled with buttered crumbs and baked until brown."
---West Coast Cook Book, Helen Brown, 1952 facsimile reprint [Cookbook Collectors Library] (p. 148-9)
"Oysters Kirkpatrick. A dish of baked oysters, green pepper, and bacon. The creation of this dish is credited to chef Ernest Arbogast of the Palm Court (later the Garden Court) of San Francisco's Palace Hotel. named after Colonel John C. Kirkpatrick, who managed the hotel from 1894 to 1914, the dish was already well known by the end of his tenure, when Clarence E. Edwards wrote in Bohemian San Francisco (1914) that the dish was merely a variation on the "oyster salt roast" served at Mannings' Restaurant on the corner of Pine and Webb streets."
---The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 228)
[NOTE: Mariani's book offers this recipe for Oysters Kirkpatrick which is "supposedly the original" :Combine 1 c. ketchup, 1 c. chili sauce, 1 t. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 t. A1 sauce, 1 t. chopped parsley, and half a small chopped green pepper. Cut bacon slices into thirds, and cook halfway. Shuck oysters, dip them into sauce, and place them in shells. Place oysters on a bed of rock salt, cover with bacon, and sprinkle on Parmesean cheese. Bake at 400 degress F. until bacon is crisp."]
This secret was divulged to us by Chef Theodore Hohl of the University Club, and is about the best ever. Make a sauce, using two-thirds as much chili sauce as horseradish. Place the oysters in the half shell, pour the sauce over them with a strip of bacon over each. Bake in the oven until the edges of the oysters curl."
---"Requested Recipes," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1934 (p. A7)
Oysters figure prominently in traditional New Orleans cuisine. They are featured in a variety of recipes. Oysters Rockefeller is attributed to Jules Alciatore of Antoine's. Notes here:
"Oysters Rockefeller. A dish of oysters cooked with watercress, scallions, celery, anise and other seasonings. It is a specialty created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore of Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans. The original recipe for oysters Rockefeller has never been revealed. There does appear a recipe, however, in a 1941 compilation by Ford Naylor called the World Famous Chefs' Cook Book, in which the author contends, "Every recipe in this book, with few exceptions, is a secret recipe which has been jealously guarded. " The recipe for "Oysters a la Rockefeller" is given above the name "Antoine's Restaurant, New Orleans". "
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 228)
"Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 by my great-grandfather Jules Alciatore. At that time there was a shortage of snails coming from Europe to the United States and Jules was looking for a replacement. He wanted this replacement to be local in order to avoid any difficulty in procuring the product. He chose oysters. Jules was a pioneer in the art of cooked oysters, as they were rarely cooked before this time. He created a sauce with available green vegetable products, producing a richness that he named it after one of the wealthiest men in the United States, John D. Rockefeller. I have estimated that we have served over three million, five hundred thousand orders--quite a large number, considering that they have all been served in a single gourmet restaurant. The original recipe is still a secret that I will not indulge. As many times as I have seen recipes printed in books and articles, I can honestly say that I have never found the original outside of Antoine's."
---Antoine's Restaurant Since 1840 Cookbook, Roy F. Guste, Jr. [Norton:New York] 1980 (p. 32)
Why the name? In Alciatore's own words: "Oysters Rockefeller was one of his most famous dishes, named, he told his patrons, 'because I know no other name rich enough for their richness.'"---Jules Alciatore, obituary, Associated Press, New York Times, September 13, 1934 (p. 23)
Might this be the "secret" recipe? "To dine at Antoine's is, after all, to learn by contrast that you would rather have simpler things, but that a name means a great deal when it comes to foods. We had had oysters Rockefeller elsewhere, but the ony recipes we brought away with us were the one for this and one for the soup we had. These were the only ones printed on the great sheet, giving a history of the house, which we received as a souvenier. The last section of this begins: 'Monsieur Jules has invented many dishes which have added to the name of his house, chief among them being huites en coquille a la Rockefeller. Rockefeller's name sugests the golden flavor, that's why it was added to the huitres, which is French for oysters. Jules is extremely reluctant about giving away the secrets of his kitchen, but after some coaxing he was induced to part with the following while slowly sipping his cognac after luncheron.
"Huitres en Coquille a la Rockefeller--Raw oysters whtih a dressing made as follows, the quantity of the ingredients to depend upon the size of the order. One bunch of shallots, one bunch of parsley, two pounds of butter, one bottle of Spanish walnuts, half a bunch of tarragon leaves, two stale loaves of French bread, salt and pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of tabasco sauce. All of these things are pounded into a pulp in a mortar, and then ground in a sausage machine, the mass being finally passed through a needle sifter. The oysters on the half shell are covered with the sauce and then placed in a hot oven to bake just three minutes. The oysters must be served at once."
---"French Specialties," Jane Eddington, Winnipeg Free Press [Canada], March 27, 1912 (p. 9)
Archaelogical evidence suggests people have been eating mollusks since the dawn of human time. Scallops belong to this edible family. Food historians confirm ancient Romans enjoyed these delicious morsels. By the 17th century, one of the more popular methods for serving this particular bivlave mollusk was to slice it up, mix it with a sauce, add some bread crumbs and bake it in its shell. Other foods readily adapted to this method and were similary prepared.
Tracing the evolution of scallop cookery is challenging because the word is used in several contexts with different spellings. Dishes titled scallop, scollop, collop, and escalope can be referring to the mollusk. They can also be describing a method for preparing any kind of minced meat baked in cream sauce, sometimes presented in a scallop shell. Recipes reflect local place and taste. Indeed, definitions of scalloped dishes are all over the culinary map.
"Scallop, an edible mollusk which exists in many species around the world and is highly esteemed in almost all regions, although not in Southeast Asia. Scallops do not crawl or burrow, so do not have a large 'foot'. Instead, they have a highly developed adductor muscle, by means of which they can open and close their shells and so propel themselves through the water. The Japanese name for scallop means, literally, 'full-sail fish'. from the manner of its movement with one shell raised. Not all scallops exercise this ability. Some remain anchored by a byssus to some solid object. "
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p.703-704)
"Scallop, a group of bivalve shellfish. They are among the best of shellfish gastronomically; their flavour is finest in spring when they spawn, as observed by Aristotle, These were cooked as a separate dish; 'grilled and served with vinegar and silphium they tend to loosen the bowels owing to their excessive sweetness; they are juicier and easier to digest is they are bake,' according to Xenocrates. They were also used as an ingredient, for example, in the souffle-like dish spumeum for this Anthimus gives a recipe. Scallops. belong to the family Pectinidae. Several species are common in the Mediterranean, and Xenocrates goes into some detail on their qualities. Other ancient authors focus on two kinds, each of which was at its best in a specified locality."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 295)
"Scallops. The scallop is a shell-fish somewhat larger than an oyster, and somewhat resembling it in shape. It is somethign like a crab in taste. It may be served in two or three ways, and is generally highly esteemed where it is known. The scallop may enter appropriately into any fish pie, though it should be boiled previously. It is best when scalloped. The deep shells of the scallop should be carefully preserved after they are used, and will be used when it is wished to 'scallop' the remains of dressed fish of any kind."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875 (p. 841)
"Scallop. This is a fish somewhat similar to an oyster in shape, but larger; it tastes rather like a crab. It may be served in various ways, and may enter into the composition of fish pies. The deep shells should be preeserved, as they are useful for sending 'scalloped fish' to table; any kind may be prepared and served in them. We would add that scallops, when not in good conditino, are most objectionable in flavour, and also very unwholesome. Cost, about a penny each."
---Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book, Lizzie Heritage [Cassell and Company:London] 1894 (p. 184)
"Scallop. The most familiar species in British waters if the great scallop. which has radially ribbed shells with an undulated edge the top shell being cruved and the bottom one flat. It is commonly found on the coasts of the English Channel and the Atlantic. There are also several other varieties, form the small bay scallop to the larger deepwater scallop. There are many ways of cooking them. They can be fried in batter or baked in white wine, sauce mornay, or sauce creme, but the simpler methods are best for preserving the delicacy of the flesh. They are particularly good poached in a little sherry and water, then drained (the liquid being reserved) and turned in butter; then the stock and the butter are poured over and drecuded over a hot flame, and the scallops are seared in the sauce. Scallopes served ina sauce mornay have come to be known in English-sepaking countries as coquilles-St.-Jascuqes, which in France is simply the common general name for all scallops. The deeper, rounded scallop shells, well scrubbed, may sometimes be used as a container for the scallop dish, which can then be cooked in the shell and served from it, if it is large enough. In the U.S. scallops are smaller than thouse found off British coasts; they also have no coral but only a small bluish-white roe, and they do not have as good a flavour."
---The Food of the Western World, Theodora Fitzgibbon [Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co.:New York] 1976 (p. 418)
"Like mussels, scallops ranked far below lobsters, oysters and eve clams among New England shellfish in the nineteenth century. Two varieties are regarded as good for food: the bay scallop. and the larger sea scallop. Bay scallops have short lives. and htey flouirs south of Cape Cod in areas with abundant eelgrass, on which the larvae settle temporarily. The scallop was a relative latecomer to the market. Although Catharine Beecher mentions scallops in 1846, they did not regularly appear in New England cookbooks until the 1870s. Connecticut oystermen first tapped the scallop resources of Long Island's Peconic Bay in the 1850s, eventually creating a demand in New York for this fall delicacy. By the time scalloping was recognized as a distinct fishery of the 1880s, commercial scallopers generally employed openers--often women--to pick out the meats and pack them for market. Yet this fishery did not take off until the 1920s and 1930s, when sea scallops were discovered on Georges Bank and improvements in transportation and marketing made it possible to get both bay and sea scallops to more people, in the coast and inland."
---Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and their food, at sea and ashore, in the nineteenth century, Sandra L. Oliver [Mystic Seaport Museum:Mystic CT] 1995 (p. 390)
"Scollops. This shell-fish is used about the same as a clam, but is not so popular, owing to a peculiary sweet flavor. It is in season from September to March, and is sold shelled, as only the muscular part of the fish is used."
---Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, Maria Parloa [Estes and Lauriat:Boston] 1880, 1886 (p. 48)
"The seas is full of both fearful and beautiful things--but none lovelier than the fluted shellfish, the scallop. The scallop is also, I believe, a misrepresented fish. The scallop is of two kinds, the large deep-sea scallop and the lesser size bay or cape kind, found in the the general North Atlantic waters, includise of some water off Long Isalnd. Long Island Bay Scallops are a preferred item. Most of us think a scallop looks lke what we see for sale, but waht we see is onlyt the abductor muschole which holds this mollusk's shells together. There are gourments who like the body part of the scallop. At Tome Moore's restaurant in Bermuda, and a t certain European places, it is served as a delicacy. But the muscle of the scallop is itself surely good eating--even raw (which is not usually known)."
---Long Island Seafood Cook Book, J. George Frederick [Business Bourse:New York] 1937 (p. 208-209)
"Scallops, like oysters and clams, are mollusks. The single large muscle that opens and closes the shell is the edible portion. The most popular fresh scallops are Bay Scallops which are small, pinkish white 3/4" cubes coming from bays. These are sold only during the oyster season. The large scallops, known as Sea Scallops are cubes of 2" or more, which come from the sea and are not quite so finely flavored as the bay scallops. They are in season the year round. In using these sea scallops, they may be split across the grain to a thickness of about 3/4". Packaged quick-frozen bay scallops may be purchased all year round in many parts of the country." ---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, completely revised 7th edition edition [Farrar & Rinehart:New York] 1944 (p. 318)
"The choicest scallops to be had are the small bay scallops, about 1/2 inch thick and a pinkish white. They are in season from early fall until late spring. The larger, or deeo-sea, scallops are in season the year round. Scallops may be either sauteed in butter, dipped in fritter batter and fried in deep hot fat (380 degrees F.), or dipped in melted butter and broiled very quickly. They are often served with crisp bacon or in combination with other seafood dishes. Tiny bay scallops, served raw with a cocktail sauce, will be found very palatable."
---Fireside Cook Book, James A. Beard [Simon and Schuster:New York] 1949 (p. 65)
"46. A Dish of Scallops. Isicia Ex Spondylis. [Lightly] cook scallos [or the firm part of oysters] remove the hard and objectionable parts mince the meat very fine, mix this with cooked spelt and eggs, season with pepper [shape into croquettes and wrap] in caul, fry, underlay a rich fish sauce and serve as a delicious entree."
---Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling, facsimile 1936 edition [Dover Publications:New York] 1977 (p. 63-64)
"To stew Scollops. Boil them very well in white wine, fair water, and salt, take them out of the shells, and stew them with some of the liquor elder vinegar, two or three cloves, some large mace, and some sweet herbs chopped small; being well stewed together, dish four or five of them in scollop shelpps and beaten butter, with the juice of two or three oranges."
---The Accomplisht Cook, Robert May, facsimile 1685 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 2000 (p. 400)
"To Stew Scollops. Boil them bery well in Salt and Water, take them out and stew them in a little of the Liquor, a little White Wine, and a little Vinegar, two or three Blads of Mace, two or three Cloves, a Piece of Butter rolled in Flour, and the Juice of a Seville Orange. Stew tem well and dish them up."
---Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1747 facsimile edition [Prospect Books::Devon] 1995 (p. 96)
[NOTE: This recipe is included with other shellfish. We can assume this scollop was a mollusk.]
"To Stew Scollops. Open a dozen Scollops; and take them out as whole as you can, put htem in a sauce-pan and set them, then strain the liquor form them through a sieve, wash them well in cold water, take off the beards and the black spot, put them into a stew-pan, drain the liquor from the settlings, and put to them a gill of white wine and a spoonful of ketchup, season them with a little beaten mace, pepper, and salt, put in a little butter mixed with flour, stew them gently till they are as thick as cream, squeeze in the juice of a Seville orange, put them in a hot dish, and garnish with fried sippets.
"To Fricassee Scollops. Open a dozen scollops, and take them out as whole as you can, put them in a sauce-pan and set them, then strain the liquor form them through a sieve, wash them very clean in cold water, take off the beards and the black spot, put them in a stew pan, pour the liquor from the settlings and put in, season them with a little beaten mace, Cayan pepper and salt, and put in a little butter mixed with flour, keep them stirring till thick and smooth, mix the yolks of an egg with half a pint of cream, grate in a little nutmeg, put it in, and keep shaking the pan till it is near boiling, but do not let it boil, for fear of curdling, squeeze in the juice of a Seville orange, and give it a shake round; then put them in a hot dish, and garnish with toasted sippets."
---The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R Campbell and B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792 (p. 100-101)
"To Boil Scollops.--Wash them clean, then put them in a pot, the edges downwards. When all are in, put to them a pint of water, cover it close, and set it over a hot fire; when the shells are wide open and the inside loosens, they are done; then take them out ant trim them clean; add pepper and salt, and a good sized bit of butter, and some of the liquor in which they were boiled; dredge over a little flour, and put the whole into a stew-pan, over the fire for ten minutes. Have some thin slices of bread nicely toasted, cut it small, put it in a deep dish, and pour the scollops over."
---Mrs. Crowen's American Lady's Cookery Book, Mrs. T.J. Crowen [Dick & Fitzgerald:New York] 1847 (p. 50)
"To Cook Scollops. Boil them, take out the hearts (which is the only part used), dip them in flour and fry brown in lard, or stew with butter, pepper, salt and a little water.z" ---Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book, Catharine E. Beecher, facsimile 1858 editon [Dover Publications:Mineola NY] 2001 (p. 65)
"2158. To Cook Scollops. Place the scollops round side down on top of a hot stove until the shells open. Remove the top shell and detach the fish by cutting underneath it with a pliable knife. Wash the scollops very well in plenty of water then poach them gently for 8-10 minutes in a White Wine Court-bouillon. When cooked, cut the round white part into thick slices, the red tongue or coral into slices and the beard into a Salpicon.
"2159. Coquilles Saint-Jacques au Gratin. Scrub the deep scollop shells well, dry them and coat the bottom of each with Sauce Duxullea plus 1/2 tbs white wine. Place the slices of white flesh, coral and beard on top, surround with slices of raw mushrooms and cover with Sauce Duxelles. Sprinke with white breadcrumbs and melted butter and gratinate in the usual manner for a Complete Gratin."
---The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, translated by H.L. Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann [John Wiley & Sons:New York] 1979 (p. 254-255)
[NOTE: Escoffier also offers recipes for Coquilles Saint-Jacques a la Nantiase & a la Parisienne]
"Baked Scallops. Take the scallops out of their shells and trim off the beards and all the blakc parts. Wash the deep shells of the scallops, bry them,put in the scallops, and pour one-half tablespoonful of vinegar over each. Blanch a bunch of parsley andchop it finely; mix it wiht the grated breadcrumbs, season to taste with pepper and salt, and bind the mixture into a paste with a little milk. Spread some of the paste over each shell, strew a few dried breadcrumbs on the top, and put a small piece of butter on each. Place themin a brisk oven and bake for twenty minutes. Serve the scallops very hot and in their shells, on a folded napkin on a dish."
"Fried Scallops. Trim off the beards and the black parts, clean the scallops well and drain them. Put a lump of lard into a flat stewpan, place it over the fire until blue smoke rises, then put in the scallops and fry them until lightly browned. Drain them for a moment on a sheet of paper, arrange them on a hot dish over which has been spread a folded napkin garnished with fried parsley, and serve."
"Stewed Scallops. Put some scallops in a stewpan with a half blade of mace, a little sugar and sufficient water to cover them; stew gently by the edge of the fire for about thirty minutes or until tender. Put one and one-half ounces of butter in a stewpan with one tablespoonful of lfour and mix it over the fire, then stir in some of the liquor in which the scallops were stewed, three tablespoonfuls of cream and flavor with a little grated nutmeg. Arrange the scallops on a hot dish, pour the suace over them and serve." (p. 117-118)
---The Cook Book by "Oscar" of the Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky [Saafield Publishing:Chicago] 1908
"Fried Oysters or Scallops. Drain oysters or scallops and remove any bits of shell; dry between towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Dip into 1 beaten egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon water, then into dry bread crumbs. Fry golden brown in deep fat (375 degrees F.). Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with hot Tartare Sauce.
---My Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, 5th edition, 1930, 1939 [Meredith Publishing Company:Des Moines IA]
"Raw Scallops, Cutchoque. 36 Scallops, Marinade, Cocktail sauce, Lemon slices, Salt. For 10 minutes let the washed scallops lie in a marinade consisting of 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, 1 tablespoon Chablis (or any dry white wine), 1 small sliced onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 sprig parsley and 1/2 bay leaf. Then serve with oyster crackers and oyster cocktail sauce, or salt and lemon slices."
---Long Island Seafood Cook Book, J. George Frederick [Business Bourse:New York] 1937 (p. 208-209)
[NOTE: this book also offers recipes for Scallps and Oyter-Crabs Seaford, Scallop Fry Plum Island, Scallops and Mussels en Brochette, Scallop Stew Shroham, Whole Fresh Scallops Bermuda, Scallops and Mushrooms Glen Head, Scallop Soup Merrick Road, Deviled Scallops Sea Biscuit, Scallops Thermidor, Baked Scallops Bossedrt, Scallops Filippini, Scallops au Diable, Srhimp and Scallop Loaf Northport and Oysters and Scallops Jambalaya. Several of the appelations reflect Long Island (NY), both Nassau and Suffolk counties.]
"Chinese Scallops. With scallops plentiful on the East Coast and frozen scallops available in most grocery stores, you can try this recipe any time. 2 pounds fresh scallops, 2 tablespoons peanut or salad oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 large onion, chopped, 4 bell peppers. Wash scallops, remove muscle, and slice. Wash peppers, remove seeds, and dice. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, add scallops, and saute about two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the finely chopped onion, seasoning, and diced peppers, mix well and cook about three minutes more."
---Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, Victor Bergeron [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1946 (p. 170-171)
"Scallops As-We-Do-Them. Call those of us who live on Shelter Island spoiled, but we bring the scallops in from the Bay, wash, brush, and open them at once, then roll them lightly in wine, water-ground corn meal, and deep fry them. Any good cooking oil will do. Use a frying basket and have the oil hot but not smoking (370 degrees F.). Fry only 2 or 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve at once with tartare sauce. And this, as a friend of mine once put it, is 'scallops as the old Scallopers do them.'"
---Martha Deane's Cooking for Compliments, Marian Young Taylor (WOR's Martha Deane)[M. Barrows & Company:New York] 1954 (p. 105)
[NOTE: Shelter Island is located in the Long Island Sound, NY.]
"Golden Scallops. In large skillet, heat 2 tablesp. butter or margarine, 1/2 teasp. salt, 1/8 teasp. pepper, and 1/4 teasp. paprika till bubbling hot. Add 2 tablesp. minced onion or one slivered clove garlic. Using 1 lb. bay scallops (1 pt.) in all, drop in enough scallops to cover bottom of skillet (don't crowd). Sautee over high heat, tossing occasionally, 5 to 7 min., or until golden; remove to heated platter. Repeat. Sprinkle scallops with snipped parsley. Serve with lemon wedges or with sauteed, sliced mushrooms or crumbled crisp bacon. Makes 4 or 4 servings."
---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Dorothy B. Marsh editor [Good Housekeeping:New York] 1955 (p. 191)
"Scallops en Brochette (4 servings) Skewered Scallops. 2 pound scallops, salt and pepper to taste, 1 1/2 cups dry vermouth, 1/2 cup chopped fennel leaves, cherry tomatoes, salad oil. 1. Wash and dry scallops and saeson with salt and pepper. 2. Combine vermouth and fennel leaves and marinate scallops for about 2 hours in this mixture. 3. Alternate scallops and tomatoes on skewers and roll them in oil. 4. Grill slowly until scallops are a light golden color."
---The White House Chef Cookbook, Rene Verdon [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1967 (p. 96-97)
"Happy Hour Scallops. 1 lb scallops, 6 slices toasted white bread, 1/2 lb. bacon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, 3 tablespoons dry white wine. Cut toast into 1-inch squares. Cut bacon slices in half and wrap a slice of bacon around each toast square. Salt and pepper scallops. Alternate scallops and bacon-wrapped toast on small skewers. Heat butter and wine until butter is melted. Put skewers under broiler and baste frequently with the butter and wine until scallops are done and bacon is brown. Serves 3."
---Stewed to the Gills: Fish and Wine Cookery, Esther Lewin and Birdina Lewin [Nash Publishing:Los Angeles] 1971 (p. 155)
"Scallop," as verb, refers to the method introduced by the French for serving finely minced protein mixed in cream sauce, topped with breadcrumbs then baked in an oven. Presumably, the practice descends from ancient minced dishes. Scalloped dishes may be served as hors d'oeuvres or side dishes. "Au Gratin" dishes are related.
Fish, oysters, chicken, vegetables, and even scallops can be scalloped. Some recipes are actually baked in real scallop shells purposely saved or purchased for "authentic" presentation. The use of real scallop shells ("en coquilles") varies according popular culinary trends, cycling between economical to artful to vulgar and back again. Silver dishes shaped like scallop shells were highly prized in the 19th century. Most scalloped dishes are simply baked en casserole. What's the difference between scalloped dish and casserole? The latter, at least on modern American tables, generally includes a grain starch (rice or pasta).
Linguists confirm escalopes, scallopini and collops also descend from this etymological line. These terms, however, have very different meanings. They refer to a thin, breaded sauteed fillet of "white" meat, typically veal, chicken or other fowl. Think: Wiener schnitzel & country fried steak.
A survey of definitions and recommended practices through time:
"Scalloped. A culinary term originally used to describe creamed dishes cooked in a scallop shell. In the U.S., however, it is now used particularly to describe sliced vegetables, fish, poultry, fruit, etc., cooked in a sauce or liquid in the oven and served from the dish in which they are cooked. Scaloppe, Italian for large ecalopes (scallops) of veal. Scaloppine, and alternative name for piccate or small scaloppe."
---The Food of the Western World, Theodora Fitzgibbon [Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co.:New York] 1976 (p. 418-419)
"Scalloped dishes are generally those made with a cream base such as scalloped oysters, scalloped potatoes, scalloped clams, and so on. At times, the cream base consists of a thickened sauce, sometimes pure cream. Many scalloped dishes are made with bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. The dishes, after they are assembled--frequently in layers--and dotted with butter, are baked until bubbling hot and golden brown. The term "scalloped" presumably came about because such foods were served in scallop shells."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 392)
"Remarks on the Coquilles, or Shells used for Hors d'Oeuvres. The natural shells of fish, which are still used in some establishments, are objectionable; I would recommend their being superceded in all cases by light silver shells or coquilles, which are preferable for the preparation of these hors d'oeuvre, and, morever, always look well when brought to table."
---Royal Cookery Book, Jules Gouffe, translated by Alphonse Gouffe [Sampson, Low, Son and Marston:London] 1869 (p. 319)
[NOTE: This book offers "en coquilles" recipes for chicken, oysters, lobster, shrimps, mussels, crayfish tails, carp roes, sole and turbot. Not scallops.]
"Escalope, Collop.--Slices of meat or fish of any kind flattened slightly and fried in butter or some other fat. In former times the term was used of a dish of sliced meat, for instance, sliced mutton would be called une escalope de mouton."
"Escaloper. A French culinary term meaning to carve thin slices (escalopes) of meat, such a veal or poultry, large fish filets, lobster or certain vegetables, such as mushroom caps or artichoke hearts."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised and Updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001(p. 465)
"Scollops. What do cooks mean by always talking of scollops--scollops of beef, scollops of veal, scollops of breasts of fowl? What are scollops? They mean little slices, and they are a corruption of collops. It is one of the most curious things about the kitchen that, either because cooks are in general very ignorant, or because they love to mystify their dishes, the terms we use for food are the most corrupt of any in the language."
---Kettner's Book of the Table, E.S. Dallas, facsimile 1877 edition [Centaur Press:London] 1968 (p. 420-421)
"Scaloppina. A thin, pounded piece of meat, usually sauteed with a wide variety of ingredients on top."
---Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York 1998 (p. 233) [NOTE: "scaloppini" is plural.]
Our survey of historic recipes confirms the word "scallop" (aka scollop) meant different things at different times. Context clues are key, because recipes often assume the reader/cook understands what is meant. In the selected recipes below, the term scollop/scallop can refer to the mollusk, a fillet of boneless fowl, and baking creamed minced fish in a scallop shell. Vegetable scallops first surface in the early 19th century. Most popular versions are potatoes, corn, tomatoes and spinach.
"To Scollop Tomatas. Peel off the skin from large, full, ripe tomatas--put a layer in the bottom of a deep dish, cover it well with bread grated fine; sprinkle on pepper and salt, and lay some bits of butter over them--put another layer of each, till the dish is full-let the top be covered with crumbs and butter--bake it a nice brown."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, facsimile 1824 edition [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia] 1984 (p. 236-7)
"No. 23.--Scollops of Fowls with Cucumbers. Take off the fillets of three fowls, cut your scollops of the size of a half-crown piece, dip them into some clarified butter, in a saute-pan, sautez them over a brisk fire on both sides, and throw them into sauce of cucumbers. The shortest way of making the scollops, and likewise retaining all the gravy, is to sautez the fillets just a dinner time, and to scollop them quickly."
---The French Cook, Louis Eustache Ude, facsimile 1828 Englished editio [Arco Publishing:New York] 1978 (p. 168)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Scollops of Fowls with Essence of Cucumbers, Scollops of Fowls with Truffles, Scollops of fowls with puree of Green Peas, Scollops of Rabbits au fumet.]
"Scolloped Oysters. Pound fine, rusked bread or crakers, butter scollop shells or tins, sprinkle on the bread stuff put in a layer of oysters, a bit of butter, salt, pepper, and a little of the oyster liquor; add another layer of crumbs, and oysters, and so on till the shells are filled, placing a layer of the bread stuff on the top, bake them till of a light brown in a Dutch oven." (P. 74) "Baked Corn Pudding. Grate green sweet corn; to three teacups of it, add two quarts of milk, eight eggs, a greated nutmeg, two teaspoonfuls of salt, and six spoonfulls of drawn butter--bake one hour--serve it up with sauce to taste."
---The Improved Housewife, Mrs. A. L. Webster [Hartford:1844] (p. 77)
"Scolloped Tomatoes.--Peel six fine tomatoes, (pour scalding water over, if the skins do not come off readily,) and press the sees and juice from then, butter as scolloped tin plate, put to the tomatoes two tablespoonsful of bread crumbs, a teaspoonful of salt, and a saltspoonful of pepper, and a piece of butter the size of a small egg, cut it small; put the prepared tomates into the buttered dish, and bake half an hour in a quick oven; when done, turn it out. A teaspoon of sugar added to the preparation is considered an improvement."
---Mrs. Crowen's American Lady's Cookery Book, Mrs. T.J. Crowen [Dick & Fitzgerald:New York] 1847 (p. 194)
"Scolloped Oysters. Take the oysters form the liquor, and place some at the bottom of the dish, then grate some bread over the, a little nutmeg, pepper, salt, and cloves. Add another layer of oysters, and the seasoning, a little butter, and a glass of wine. Cover the whole with grated bread, and bake half an hour, or perhaps a little more. There will be liquor enough without adding any water or oyster broth."
---Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book, Catharine E. Beecher, facsimile 1858 editon [Dover Publications:Mineola NY] 2001 (p. 65)
"Scallops, Scalloped. Procure the scallops when alive and as fresh as possible. Open them, loosen them from the shell, trim away the beards and the black portion, leaving the yellow and white parts of the fish. Wash them in two or three waters, and drain them. Scour and rinse the deeper shells, dry them, and butter thickly. Mince the scallops, and mix with them a third of their bulk in grated bread-crumbs, a liberal allowance of pepper and salt, and a little chopped parsley. A large table-spoonful of chopped parsley will be sufficient for a dozen scallops. Sprinkle a few bread-crumbs over the inside of the shell, and shake off those that do not adhere. Put in the minced fish, cover the surface with breadcrumbs, and lay little pieces of butter here and there on the top. Put the shells in a well-heated oven or in a Dutch oven before a clear fire, and let them reamin until the contents are heated throughout and brown on the surface. Serve the scallops very hot in the shells on a neatly-folded napkin. A little vinegar should be sent to table with them, and four shells will be reuqired for every dozen scallops. The shells chould be carefully preserved, and may be used again and again for scalloped fish of any kind. Time to bake the scallops, half an hour. Probable cost, when plentiful, 1s. per dozen. Sufficient, one dozen for four persons."
"Scalloped Fish. The remains of any description of dressed fish and shell-fish may be served in this way: mackerel and herrings are the least suitable for the purpose. Take the skin and bone form the fish, and tear the flesh into flakes. Mix with it a third of its weight in finely-grated bread-crumbs, or in well-mashed potatoes, and season the mixture rather highly with salt, cayenne, and grated nutmeg. oisten slighly with the remains of sauce served with the fish, or, lacking this, with a little clarified butter. Butter some scallop shells, or some small shallow dishes, and line the inside with grated bread-crumbs. Put in the mixture, cover the surface with bread-crumbs, lay little pieces of butter here and there on the tip, and bake in a well-heated oven or in a Dutchoven before the fire until the surface is brighly browned; serve very hot. Time to bake, about twenty minutes."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875 (p. 841)
"Scalloped Potatoes. Cut four good-sized boiled or steamed potatoes into dice. Put two tablesponfuls of butter in a frying-pan; and, when melted, add two tablespoons of flour, mix until smooth; then add one pint of milk, and stir continually until it boils; add a teaspoonful of salt, and three dashes of black pepper; take from the fire. Put a layer of this sauce in the bottom of a baking-dish, then a layer of potatoes, then another layer of sauce, and so on until all is used, having the last layer sauce; sprinkle the top lightly with bread crumbs, and put in the oven for fifteen minutes, to brown. Serve in the dish in which it was baked."
---Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book, Mrs. S. T. Rorer [Arnold and Company:Philadelphia] 1888 (p. 295) 
"Scalloped Chicken. Put into a shallow dish a layer of cold cooked chicken, then a layer of boiled rice or macaroni and a little tomato sauce and so on until the dish is full. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top, put the dish in the oven and bake until brown." (p. 302)
---The Cook Book by "Oscar" of the Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky [Saafield Publishing:Chicago] 1908
"Standard Recipe for Escalloped Vegetables. 4 cups vegetable, juice and pulp, 3 tabelspoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 cups bread crumbs coarsly ground, 1 tablespoon sugar. Put a layer of crumbs in bottom of a well-buttered baking dish, cover with vegetable pulp and a little juice and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar; then cover with crumbs and dot the pieces with butter; repeat, cover top with remaining crumbs and dot with butter. Bake in a moderate oven, 325 degrees, for 45 minutes. Serves 8."
---Mrs. Anna J. Peterson's Simplified Cooking, Anna J. Peterson [American School of Home Econonics:Chicago] 1926 (p. 41)
"Scalloped Oysters. 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, 1/2 cup coarse cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1 pint oysters, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, if desired, 1/4 cup oyster liquor, 1/4 cup milk. Combine bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, and butter; place half in greased casserole. Arrange oysters in layers, sprinkling each layer with seasonings. Pour over oyster liquor and milk; top with remaining crumbs. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 1 hour. For an unusual flavor, substitute canned mushroom soup for all liquid. Serves 4." (Chapter 10, p. 22)
"Scalloped Potatoes. 6 medium-size potatoes, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 3 cups milk, 1 teaspoon slat, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoon chopped onion. Pare potatoes; slice thin. Make white sauce of butter, flour, and milk. Put half the potatoes in greased casserole; cover with half the sauce and seasonings. Add remaining potatoes and seasonings, then remaining sauce. Cover and bake in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F.) about 1 hour. Uncover and continue baking until top forms brown crust. Serves 6." (Chapter 14, p. 14) [NOTE: other scalloped vegetable recipes include corn, corn & tomatoes, eggplant, spinach & tomatoes.]
---My Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, 5th edition, 1930, 1939 [Meredith Publishing Company:Des Moines IA]
"Sliced Dried Beef Scalloped with Potatoes. Portion: 12 ounces (approx. 1 1/2 cups), 100 portions. Ingredients: Beef, dried, sliced, 1 pounds (2 gallons), Potatoes, A.P. (48), Onions, chopped (2 lbs, 1 1/2 quarts), Flour (12 ounces, 1 1/2 pints), Salt (6 ounces, 3/4 cup), Pepper (1/4 ounce, 3/4 tablespoon), Butter or other fat, melted (1 pounmd 8 ounces, 1 1/2 pints). Milk, liquid ( 2 1/2 gallons). Cut beef into small pieces. Peel potatoes. Slice in 1/16 to 1/8-inch slices. Arrange dried beef, potatoes and onions in alternate layers in baking pans. Mix together flour, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over beef mixture. Pour melted butter over beef. Pour milk over mixture. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees F.) about 1 hour or until potatoes are soft."
---Cook Book of the United States Navy, Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, NAVSANDA Publication No. 7 [US Government Printing Office:Washington DC] 1944 (p. 118)
"Scalloped Potatoes. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 3 lb potatoes, 4 medium onions, thinly sliced, Boiling water, 3 teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, 2 tablespoons flour 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, 2 1/4 cups milk, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. 1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease 2-quart casserole. 2. Wash, pare, and thinly slice potatoes; measure 8 cups. 3. Cook potatoes and onions, covered, in small amount of boiling water, with 2 teaspoons salt, about 5 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain. 4. Melt butter in saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, pepper, paprika, and remaining salt until smooth. Blend in milk. 5. Cook stirring, over medium heat, to boiling point, or until thickened and smooth. 6. In prepared casserole, layer one third of potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley; top with one third of sauce. Repeat. Then add remaining potatoes and onions, and top with remaining sauce. 7. Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes, or unti top is browned and potatoes are tender when pierced with fork."
Escabeche presents several challenges for food historians based on linguistic, culinary, and social factors. Variant spellings through time and place require researchers to examine method and meal placement to determine the exact recipe. Generally, Escabeche is fried fish that is treated with acids (vinegar, citrus) to achieve a stable preserving pickle. The recipe orginated in the hot Mediterranean region, where it was a practical solution for fish preservation. Ceviche, a raw fish pickled in similar ingredients descends from the same linguistic root but the recipe may not.
"Escabeche, a preparation for fried fish which has been allowed to cool and is then soused with a hot marinade of vinegar and other ingredients. The dish may be served hot, but it is more commonly kept and served cold. Indeed, the technique may well have originated as a means of preserving fish. The term occurs not only in its Spanish form, as here, but also in French (escabeche), Italian (scapece), Algerian (scabetch), and so on; and it appears in 17th- and 18-century English cookery books as 'caveach', a word which could be either a noun or a verb. Barbara Santich. gives a good account of the probably etymology of the term (from the Persian/Arabic sikbaj, meaning 'vinegar stew', vulgarized into iskebey) andof the medieval ancestors of the dish. One of the earliest mentions in Europe is in the Catalan treatise Sent Sovi (14th century), where there are several recipes for scabeig, escabeyg, and esquabey. The simplest of these calls for a midly vinegary and spicy sauce, thickened with toasted bread, onion, etc.; but other require nuts and raisins and fall into the category of sweet and sour. Santich points out that they correspond closely to some medieval English dishes with names like egurdouce (aigre-douce, sweet-and-sour). Indeed escabeche can be found, in past centuries and now, lurking under other names in various countries and context. In Italy there are many regional variants of the name scapece, but perhaps the most famous of all Italian versions of the dish, the Venetian Pesc in saor, is under a quite different name. Escabeche has migrated, under the same name, to the Philippines. where. 'it is always fish, fried first. When it is taken out of the pan, vinegar, onions, ginger and garlic. 'what has happened in Europe is that the escabeche has lost its medieval sweet-and-sour aspect, shedding the sweet ingredients such as sugar, raisins, dates, and becoming more 'streamlined.'..The essay by Santich ends with a suggestion that the term ceviche may be derived from escabeche. Certainly, if it could be established that the two terms are directly and closely related, and not just coincidental lookalikes, this whole subject area should be greatly clarified."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition, Tom Jaine editor [Oxford University Press:oxford] 2006 (p. 282)
[NOTE: The Santich work referenced above is: "On Escabeche (and Ceviche)," Barbara Santich, Petits Propos Culinaires (PPC), volume 20 (p. 17-21). FT Library owns a copy. Happy to share upon request.]
"Contemporary escabeche consists of meat or fish fried in olive oil and them put into a marinade of vinegar or sour citrus juice for preservation and flavor. Ruperto de Nola [Libro de Cozina, 1529] mentions this form of escbeche but he also give a another variety, where the object to be preserved, in his case fish, was boiled and then cooled and covered with a sauce of bread soaked in vinegar, ground with nuts and raisins, spiced, and cooked. Ruperto de Nola comments that it eats beter cold, but is not bad hot."
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin TX] 1994 (p. 243)
"Caveach--Name and dish come from the Arabs (iskebey, to pickle with vinegar, according to Cormomnas (by way of Spanish escabeche. OED [Oxford English Dictionary] assigns a West Indain origina to caveach (a corruption of escabeche), a name which did not become current until mid-eighteenth [century] in England. But recipes for the dish, the characterizing note of which is dusting with flour and frying in olive oil before pickling, had long been known in England. A highly detailed recipe, To Pickle mackrell, Flounders, Soles, or Sprats, appears in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery (about 1650, or earlier) and is a perffectly classic escabeche; virtually no eighteenth-century cookbook is without similar recipes. In 1796, Mrs. [Hannah] Glass presents The Jews Way of preserving Salmon, and all Sorts of Fish, also a true escabeche; it is possible that Jews fleeing the Inquisition had brought the recipe from Spain to England. But the dish had long before penetrated France, showing up as espinbeche de rougets in Le Menagier de Paris (about 1393); name and dish persist in regional cookery to this day, demonstrating once agin the difficulties of pinning down details of diffusion of a dish. Caveach fell form favor in American cookbooks, disappearing altogether bu the tiem of Fannie Farmer (1896). Of late, the dish has been rediscovered as secabeche, en item in 'gourmet' exotica, another ironic note."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, facsimile 1824 edition with historical notes and commentaries by Karen Hess [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 253-264)
Immediately after they are fried pour hot vinegar oer them."
---Apicius: cookery and dining in Imperial Rome, translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling, facsimile 1936 edition [Dover Publications:New York] Book I, VIII (p. 49)
"XII Si vols fer Escabetx [If you want to make fish in vinegar sauce]
If you want to make fish in vinegar sauce out of fried fish, make fish broth, put in onions, oil, salt and parsley, and cook it in a pot. Take almond milk made with broth. Then take the fried fish--and boiled fish, if you have any--and mince it with toasted bread soaked in vinegar; and if you have pine nuts, grind soume. Set it to boil in a pot with good spices, verjuice and sweetening. After that take round onions that are four fingers thick and slice them thin, and fry them with oil that is scarcely boiling. Then, when the onion is fried, when it crunches a bit, put it in with the sauce when it boils, and some of the oil from frying, so it is not too noticeable; and flavor it with sweetening, verjuice, salt and spices. You can put in raisins ground with wine or vinegar, and put it on top of the hot fried fish. It should be cooled before it is served. I have seen that with the seasonings, they ground toasted almonds and hazelnuts and toasted bread soaked in vinegar, and that they mixed it with wine and vinegar."
---The Book of Sent Sovi: Medieval recipes from Catalonia, edited by Joan Santanach, translated by Robin Vogelzang [Barcino Tamesis:Barcelona] 2008 (p. 69)
[NOTES: (1) Original Catalan text is on p. 68 of this book. (2) Modernized version appears in The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval recipes for today, Barbara Santich [Chicago Review Press:Chicago IL] 1995 (p. 102)]
Cut your Mackrel into round Pieces, and divide one into five or six Pieces: To six large Mackrel, you may take one Pound of beaten Pepper, three large Nutmegs, a little Mace, and a handful of Salt; mix your Salt and beaten Spice together, and make two or three Holes in each Piece, and thrust the Seasoning into the holes with your Finger. Rub the Piece all over with the Seasoning, fry them brown in Oil, and let them stand till the are cold; the put them into Vinegar, and cover them with Oil. They will keep well covered a great while, and are delicious."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse, facsimile 1747 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 130-131)
"The Jews way of preserving Salmon, and all Sorts of Fish.
Take either salmon, cod, or any large fish, cut off the head, wash it clean and cut it in slices as cirmped cod is, dry it very well in a cloth; then flour it, and dip it in yolks of eggs, and fry it in a great deal of oil, till it is of a fine brown, and well done; take it out, and lay it to drain, till it is very dry and cold. Whitings, mackarel, and flat fish, are done whole. When they are quite dry and colk lay them in your pan or vessel, throw in between them a good deal of mace, cloves, and sliced nutmeg a few bay-leaves: have your pickle ready made of the berst white-wine vinegar, in which you must boil a great many cloves of garlick and shalot, black and white pepper, Jamaica and long pepper, juniper-berries and salt; when the garlick begins to be tender, the pickle is enough; when it is quite cold, pour it on your fish, and a little oli on the top. They will keep good a twelve-month, and are to be eat cold with oil and vinegar they will go good to the East Indies. All sorts fo fish fried well in the oil, eat very fine cold with shalot, or oil and vinegar. Observe in the pickling of your fish to have the pickling ready; first put a little picke in, then a layer of fish, then pickle, then a little fish, and so lay them down very close, to be very well covered, put a little saffron in the pickle. Frying fish in common oil is not so expensive with care; for present use in a little does, and if the cook is careful not to burn the oil, or black it, it will fry them two or three times."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, a new eiditon with modern improvements, facsimile 1805 edition, with an introduction by Karen Hess [Applewood Books:Bedford MA] 1997 (p. 286-287)
Cut the fish in pieces the thickness of our hand, wash it and dry it in a cloth, sprinkle on some pepper and salt, dredgeit with flour, and fry it a nice brown; when it gets cold, put it in a pot with a little chopped onion between the layers, take as much vinegar as will cover it, mix it with some oil, pounded mace, and whole black pepper, pour it on and stop the pot closely. This is a very convenient article, as it makes an excellent and ready addition to a dinner or supper. When served up, it should be garnished with green fennel or parsley."
---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, facsimile 1824 edition with historical notes and commentaries by Karen Hess [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 103-104)
5 pounds tuna fish, sliced
5 cloves garlic
Salt slices of fish and fry until brown in the oil. Place in a crickery jar or earthenware casserole in layers. When all the fish has been fried, fry onion and garlic insame oil about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, bayl leaves and whole peller, heating to boiling and pour at once over fish. If fish is not well covered add more vinegar. This fish should not be eaten until at least 24 hours after it is made, for the flavor improves as time goes on. It will keep indefinitely and is grand for the winter shelf. When tuna fish is raw, it is rather mushy, but this does not indicate that the fish is spoiled. You will find that it becomes firm as you fry it."
---Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 28)
"Escabeche of various fishes (Spanish and Provencal cooking). Smelts, mackerels, whitings, red mullets, etc., are washed, cleaned and dried in a cloth. Then they are dipped in flour and fried in olive oil untl both sides are lightly coloured. They are arranged in a deep dish and a boiling court-bouillon is poured over them. This is prepared as follows:
The oil in which the fishes were fried is heated until it begins to smoke, and the following ingredients are added: 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 decilitres) of oil, 5 cloves of unpeeled garlic, an onion and a carrot, both medium-sized and cut into thin rounds. All these ingredients are fried together for a few minutes before the following are added to complete the marinade: 3/4 cup (1 1/2 decilitres) of vinegar, 1/4 cup (1/2 decilitre) of water, a sprig of thyme, half a bay leaf, some parsley, three pimentos, salt and pepper. This marinade is cooked for 10 to 12 minutes before it is poured over the fish, which is left to soak in it for 24 hours. The fish should be sered cold with the marinade."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne, edited by Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud [Crown Publishing:New York] 1961 (p. 503-504)
1 2-lb dressed red snapper, blue fish or bass (head removed)
1 large onion, peeled, sliced
2 cloveas garlic, peeled, minced
1 tablesp. vinegar
2 tablesp. soy sauce
About 25 min. before serving:
1. Sprinkle fish with 1teasp. salt, then flour it lightly. In large skillet heat butter or oil; in it brownfish well on all sides; then remove. (If fish does not fit into skillet, cut in half crosswise.)
2. To drippings in skillet add onion, green or red pepper, and garlic; saute until golden. Next stir in 1 tablesp.flour, water, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, giner, and 1/2 teasp. salt.
3. Bring to a boil, return fish to skillet, then cook, covered, 8 to 10 min., or until fish flakes easily with a fork, but is still moist. Makes 4 servings."
---The Good Housekeeping International Cookbook: Official World's Fair Edition [Harcourt, Brace & World:New York] 164 (p. 182)
6 first-course servings
. Either hot or cold, this makes a very refreshing first course, served with tortilas. It is another way of pickling fish. and it will keep for a long time.
1 teaspoon lime juice
A molcajete or mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2-inch stick cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon oregano, toasted.
10 small clove garlic, toasted. and peeled
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup wine vinegar
The fish slices
The serving dish
2 large purple onions, thinly sliced and blanched as for Cebollas Encurtidas.
Pout the water, lime juice, and salt over the fish and set it aside for 1 hour, turning it once during that time. Pulverize the spcies. Crush the garlic and grind it to a paste with the spices. Put the spice-garlic paste into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the oil, the vinegar, and water and once agin bring the mixture to a boil. Dry the fish slices thoroughly. Heat the oil and fry them, about 3 minutes for striped bass or 5 minues for the sierra, on each side. They should be barely cooked. Placed them in the serving dish and pour the hot souce over them. Set the fish aside to season for at least 2 hours in the souse. Serve hot or cold, garnished with the chilies and onions."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row Publishers:New York] 1972 (p. 232-234)
Ceviche differs from escabeche in that the fish is raw, not fried. The acids (vinegar & lime juice) pickle the raw fish for eating. Ceviche is generally served chilled as an appetizer, although it can also appear as a salad course.
"Ceviche (the spelling prefrred to seviche, which is, however, often used), a specialty of Central and South America, particuarly in Spanish speaking countries. raw fish (usually fillets) marinated in lime or lemon juice with olive oil and spcies and often served as an appetizer. The name is siad to come from the Latin cibus (food) via Spanish cebo (fodder, food, bait) and cebiche (fish stew). Escabeche. is something different but comparable. When fish is cooked by heat, the main effect in terms of food chemistry is that its protein is 'denatured'. The citric acid in lemons or limes has a similar effect, although this is not called 'cooking'. At the time of writing, ceviche is experienceing a wave of popularity in North American restaurants with many variations being worked on the original. The Japanese-Peruvian community has also developled a dish called tiradito (from the Spanish tirar, to throw). The same technique is used in some places in the Mediterranean region. "
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition, Tom Jaine editor [Oxford University Press:oxford] 2006 (p. 156-157)
"The boundaries of the Mediterranean are flexibe and fluid, depending upon what one wants to illustrate. Take, for example, seviche, today a well-known appetizer in Amercia of lime or lemon-juice marinated raw fish. I once read that it was introduced to the United States from Peru by restauranteurs. But seviche is nothing but a Mediterranean method of preserving raw fish. The Latin American Spanish word seviche comes from the Iberian Spanish escabeche, also called schebbeci in Sicily, a word that means 'marinted fish.'"
---A Mediterranean Fieast, Clifford A. Wright [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 392]
[NOTE: Recipe for Pesce Spada 'Schibbeci' (Sicily), Swordfish Seviche, is included in the book.]
"The Hawaiians have their lomi lomi, the Tahitians their poisson cru, and the Mexicans have their ceviche, which is also fish 'cooked' in fresh lime juice. The seasoning may vary but the principle is the same, and all are delicious to the initiated. The Mexicans use Spanish mackerel or corbina for their ceviche. "
---Trader Vic's Book of Mexican Cooking, Victor Bergeron [Doubleday & Co.:Garden City NY] 1973 (p. 110) [NOTE: Recipe for Senor Pico Cerviche is on p. 111) 
"One of the leading gastronomise of Mexico, Don Amando Farga, says that the word cebiche comes from the verb cebar, using its meaning 'to saturate.' It can probably be traced to the Oriental influence that crept into the western part of Mexico when the Spaniards opened up trade routes between the Philippines and the Pacific ports of the New World. The recipe varies considerably throughout the Latin American Countires, and this one comes from the state of Guerrero.
1 pound skinned fillets of mackerel or sierra
2 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, sliced into rings
Cut the fish into small cubes, about 1/2 inch, and cover them with the lime juice. Set the fish aside in the bottom of the refrigerator for at least five hours, or until the fish loses its transparent look and becomes opaque. Stir the pieces from time to time so that they get evenly 'cooked' in the juice. Skin, seed, and chop the tomatoes. chop the chilies with their seeds, and add them with the rest of the ingredients to the fish. Set the cebiche aside in the bottom of the refrigerator at least 1 hour to season. (You can serve it chilled, but not so cold that the oil congeals). Befor serving, garnish each portion with slices of avocado and onion rings and sprinkle with a little chopped coriander, if desired. Shrimps, scallopes, crabmeat, and other seafood as well coudl be used instead of mackerel."
---The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy [Harper & Row Publishers:New York] 1972 (p. 231-232)
What's the difference between squid, calamari and octopus? Native location, size & number of legs. They are all members of the mollusk family and have ink sacs. Recipes vary according to culture and cuisine. How did ancient Greeks & Romans prepare squid?
"Squid occur in all oceans and seas, except the Black Sea. Todarodes sagittatus is a species of the eastern N. Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is this to which the French name calmar correctly applies."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 750)
"Despite a relatively small market in the U.S., squids are utilized throughout the world as food. A highly specialized mollusk, the squid has 10 arms and a long cigar-shaped body with fins at the end. A sac contains ink wich may be emptied at the time of sudden propulsion, with the result that a dark cloud of ink appears. The squid is a remarkable food in that 80 percent of this cephalopod is edible. Squid dan be panfried, deep-fried, stir-fried, baked, boiled, and used in salads or pasta sauces. Classically, the very small squids are cooked whole, often stuffed, while the body of larger squids is cut into rings and pieces. Sun-dreid squid, which is popyular in the Orient, is made tough by the drying method..Squid in its ink (Calamare en su Tinta) is a very popular dish in Spain, and among the Basque people (where the name for squid becomes txipirones) it is a national dish."
---Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A. J. McClaine [Holt, Rinehart and Winston"New York] 1977 (p. 377, 379)
"Calamary (Loligo vulgaris), the English name for a squid found in the Mediterranean and in Spanish waters, and highly thought of as food. It has different names in different parts of Spain: chocos in Galicia, jibiones in Santander, chiripua in San Sebastian, and calamares in Castile; likewise calamari in Italy. In England it is also called sleevefish and inkfish or penfish because of the black liquid that it squirts out at enemies, and which is used in the sauce with herbs and garlic. Cuttlefish is related and is served in the same way. The ink is used in painting, as sepia. The calamary is known as tantonnet in Provence, where it is fried in oil with garlic. Other French names are calmar, encornet, and seiche."
---The Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe, Theodora Fitzgibbon [New York Times Book Company:New York] 1976 (p. 73)
"Octopus, a genus of edible marine cephalopod mollusc with eight suckered arms. it is found in the more temperate coastal waters of the Atlantic, and in the Mediterranean, where it is eaten a great deal. It is related to the squid and the cuttlefish. After being beaten for some time, the tentacles or arms are cut in pieces, coated with flour and egg, and fried in hot oil. In Marseilles the pouch is washed and sutffed with a mixture of onions, the finely chopped tentacles, garlic, parsley, and egg yolks; then it is simmered until tender in a mixture of half oilive oil and half white wine. In Brittany it is known as minard and pieuvre."
---The Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe, Theodora Fitzgibbon [New York Times Book Company:New York] 1976(p. 299)
"Octopus is actually a mollusk in the class Cephalopoda. Like the squid, an octopus can discharge clouds of ink. Japan is the world's largest consumer. In Spain and Portugal the octopus is cut into chunks and stewed. in a wine sauce, then served over saffron rice. It's also prepared int he style of seviche, know in thi case as pulpo vinagrete, with bite-size pieces marinated in lime juice, vinegar and spaices, to which chopped onions and peppers are added. Most Mexican recipes require that the octopus be cooked in its own ink. Also called Poulpe (France), Pulpo (Spain), Polvo (Portugal), Polpo di scoglio (Italy), Octapodi (Greece), Ma-dako (Japan), Ahtapot (Turkey)."
---Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A. J. McClaine [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 207-208)
"Squid, marine cephalopod, good to eat whatever its size. Little ones could be fried, and could be part of a mixed fry-up or hepsetos, as Dorion says. Philoxenus writes with enthusiasm of a dish of epipastai teuthides, squid with something--perhaps breadcrumbs--sprinkled over. A character in a play by Sotades talks of teuthis onthyleumene, a stuffed squid, and a cook in Alexis explains in more detail As for the squids, I put up their fins, mix in a little fat, sprinkled a few fresh herbs and stuffed them.' They were to be found a Dium, the Macedonian ceremonial centre, and also at ambracia in northwestern Greece, according to Archestratus; but indeed they are widespread in the Mediterranean. The general Greek term for squid is teuthis; the Latin equivalent is loligo, lolligo."
---Food in the Ancient World From A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 310-311)
"The satisfying small-fry and squid that are so simply cooked in olive oil are a ubiquitous preparation in Greece and most of the coastal Mediterranean. Fry, meaning "young fish," derives from the Old Norse, while fry, "to cook," derives from the Sanskrit through the Greek and Latin. Interestingly, Greek food writers, while claiming all kinds of false provenance for other foods, neglect to mention that kalamarakia tiganita and marides tiganita do indeed have a classical history. The first mention I am familiar with for fried squid is found in Aristophenes' (455-388BC) lay The Acharnians, where there is the tortuous image of a dish of sizzling squid being pulled away from the hungry Choregus. We also know from Atheneus that fried squid, although not as common as boiled squid, was eaten."
---A Mediterranean Feast, Clifford A. Wright [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 453)
"Calamary in the Pan. Crush pepper, rue, a little honey, broth, reduced wine, and oil to taste. When commencing to boil, bind with roux.
"Stuffed Calamary. Pepper, lovage, coriander, celery seed, yolks, honey, vinegar, broth, wine, oil and bind."
---Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, rendered into Englis by Joseph Dommers Vehling, facsimile 1926 edition, with 1936 notes [Dover Publications:New York] 1977 (p. 211)
"Squid. Those who call them calamari would better and more properly call them atramentarii, since they have a head in the shape of an inkwell and pour out ink [atramentum] like cuttle-fish. Large ones are cut up in pieces and boiled with finely chopped parsley and spices; small ones are eaten fried in orange juice."
---Platina: On Rigth Pleasure and Good Health, a critical edition and translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valeltudine by Mary Ella Milham, Book X no. 65 [Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998 (p. 461)
If it is alive, beat it forecefully on a stone with a club; then get a little hot water, blanch the octopus well, cut it into bite-sized pieces a finger's length long, and put them into a pot with some oil on top of the coals away from the fire; do not put in water, rather cook them very slowly in oil; then get a little fried onion and fragrant herbs and spcies, verjice and a little water, mix everything together and boil it a short while; then serve it." (p. 205)
Get squid and clean them well so that nothing bad is left; take and parboil the legs and head of the squid, and grind or chop them; get walnuts, grind them up with good spices and stuff the squid with the walnuts, spices, the heads and legs of the squid; bind them up and send them off to the oven in a baking dish; when they are almost cooked, to make another sauce for them get a lot of toast soaked in bitter wine or water and dgrind it with pinenuts and a lot of spices; when you have ground it well, distemper it with water; when the squid are done, take them out of the pot or earthenware dish, put the sauce in the dish and boil it, then put the suqid in with that too; when everything has boiled a while, set out the squid in small plates and the sauce in bowls."
When they are smaller they are better for frying, [serving them] with spices and orange juice on top. The big ones should be well cleansed and stuffed with the stuffing for Reversed Tench; otherwise, if they are quite big, cook them in a mortar with oil, first cup up into small pieces like tripe; place them away from the fire, stirring often; when they are almost cooked, add into the mortar all sorts of spices along with a little sugar and verjuice, and let it come to a boil again; then take it out."
---Cuoco Napoletano: The Neapolitan Recipe Collection, a critical edition and English translation by Terence Scully [University of Michigan Press:Ann Arbor MI] 2000 (p. 206)
"Squid. The smaller they are, the better they will taste. Wash well and prepare a filling, as is described for stuffed tench, even a better one if you know how; fry in good oil, topping with some orange juice and some good spices. You can boil large squid by cutting them into pieces in the same way as veal or ox tripe, with a little broth; make sure that it is cooked through, and you can add finely chopped parsley with some spices. Likewise, large squid can be prepared in this other manner, by washinging it first with a little white wine and verjuice and some sodden wine, thus squeezing out the squid's ink with these things, which is used to make its sauce, take an ounce of toasted almonds that have been toasted in hot ashes, crush a bit of toasted bread--or omit, if you prefer--and crush these things together. Thin all these things with the squid's wash, pass through a stamine, and simmer for a little while, adding some cinnamon, ginger, and a few cloves; fry the squid in good oil and top with this sauce."
---The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book, composed by the eminent Maestro Martino of Como, edited and with an introduction by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen [University of California Press:Berkeley CA] 2005 (p. 108-109)
Tuna hot dogs? Certainly! Aka Tunies, Sea Dogs, Tuna Franks, Ham of the Sea. This 20th century novelty meat hasn't quite caught on, but not for lack of trying. Target market appears to be thrifty households and observant Catholics. The earliest mention we find in an American source is this brief note published in the New York Times circa 1949:
"The American hot dog is going to sea. A Gloucester firm said today a fish-filled version of the hot dog will soon be on the market. Tuna fish will be the basic ingredient. The company lists these proposed names: "Sea dogs," "fish dogs," "Friday Franks" and "tuna maid frankfurters.""
---"Fish-Filled 'Hot Dog' To Be Put on Market, New York Times, September 27, 1949 (p. 34)
"'Friday Franks', a tuna fish hot dog claimed by its sponsors to look and taste like the conventional beef and pork frankfurter-- will hit the retail food market today. "Friday Franks" are composed of 100% tuna meat with a small amount of vegetable oil and spices for flavoring. No filler is added. The franks can be eaten either hot or cold. The tuna now being used is caught in New England waters. First National Stores has obtained exclusive distribution rights for the first two weeks in its more than 1,000 outlets in New England and eastern New York. A 12-ounce can of "Friday Franks" trade name for the product contains about nine tuna frankfuters and retal for 59 cents. Davis Bros. Fisheries Co. Inc of this city [Gloucester Mass] is currently producing and canning around 500,000 sea dogs a day. John F. O'Hara, president of Davis Bros. said that with consumption of regular hot dogs running between two million and five million pounds daily but tropping to 500,000 pounds on Friday, the need for a meatless variety was apparent, he asserted. The idea for a sea dog originated with two Bostonians, Robert A. Poling, a spice expert and Pasquale Fraticelli, and attorney. Davis Bros., acquired the rights to the product and further developed the process of spicing and smoking the tuna meat."
---"Tuna Fish Hot Dog--"Friday Franks"--Hits Retail Market Today, Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1949 (p. 10)
Maybe these were a *hit* in Gloucester. But in Greater New York? Ten years later we see them again being rolled out as *new*:
"Tuna Fish Frankfurters. Meatless frankfurters, shaped like the familiar hot dog but stuffed with tuna fish, are being introduced this week in Food Fair stores here. These are a frozen product; there are about ten in a one-pound package costing 79 cents."
---"Food: New Products," June Owen, New York Times, June 8, 1959 (p. 24)
"New Tuna treat: Tunies. Tuna with the new exciting Taste. Tuna in the new convenient form. Hickory-smoked for an exciting new taste, Tunies have all the nutritive values of seafood in tempting snacks, salads and main dishes that are quck and easy to prepare. Best of all- Tunies are inexpensive, and there is no waste. Tunies are made only from select fillets of tuna. they contaion no meat or meat derivatives, no cereal or other filler. And Tunies are skinless. High in protein, low in calories, Tunies are the most outstanding food buy in years. Chop them for casseroles. Mince or grind them for sandwiches. Slice them for salads. Bargecue them- Fry them. Boil them. Serves 4 to 6 people. Tunies are Packd by the Processors of Famous Brest-O-Chicken Tuna, Quality Packers for Over a Half-Century."
"A new idea from the seafood industry is Tunies--hickory smoked skinless frankfurters made of tuna fish. They lend themselves beautifully to hot dog buns and mustard, as well as to casserole dishes, omelets and vegetables. Made from lins of tuna, the product contains no meat, cereal, or other filler. The Tunies are high in protein and low in calories. The are packed in colorful cans on the west coast by manufacturers of Breast O'Chicken products."
---"'Round the Food Stores: For a look at the latest ideas," Lois Baker, Chicago Daily Tribune, March 20, 1959 (p. A7)
"NANCY G., PALATINE, IL: Hi Bob! I remember "Tunies," the tuna fish hot dogs that came in a can. We had so many of them - YUKK!! Can you give me any info on who made them, if they still exist, and where? I think my grandmother made them all millionaires. We had so many cans that they swelled up with bloat before we were forced to eat them. Being a Catholic family you couldn't eat meat on Friday years ago and they were our supper almost every Friday night. There were five children in our house and four adults. They must have been dirt cheap because as I said my grandmother and father bought tons of them. All of us "kids" hated them. We grew up in Chicago, IL. We always make jokes about them and were trying to prove to our kids that they really existed like with a label or picture of one. BOB: yeah that was some ugly and nasty food! Tunies are long gone. I think they were only in business for a short while in the late 50's because everybody felt about them like you and I do. No info on who made them. they're probably still in hiding! I'm getting grossed out just thinking of them. By the way, I wonder what ever happened to all the people who went to hell for eating meat on Fridays!Those who ate Tunies instead of meat on Fridays should be sitting at the highest level in Heaven!!"
Print references to tuna franks exist through the 1960s, then stray from the radar. Tuna franks resurface (again, as *new*) in the late 1980s. "Bounty of the Sea" and "Ham of the Sea" were catchy names but not enough to hook the American palate. Notes here:
"Houstonian Jerry Grisaffi has hooked a publicly traded shell company that he plans to use to flip his local tuna hot dog company onto the Over-The-Counter exchange. Grisaffi's privately held Bounty of the Sea expects to complete the acquisition of publicly traded Falcon Investment Co. before the end of this month. Falcon is a Delaware corporation without ongoing operations, whose stock trades in the pink sheets. Bounty of the Sea will be the surviving name of the combined companies, and Grisaffi hopes to list his stock under the symbol BOTS or, possibly, TUNA. As soon as the acquisition is completed, Bounty of the Sea will conduct a public offering of 2 million new shares through which Grisaffi hopes to raise $ 3.5 million. Bounty of the Sea was formed in late 1987 to manufacture and sell a line of hot dogs and assorted cold cuts made from tuna fish. Grisaffi got the idea for the product on a Caribbean fishing trip when a local cook served him fish that had been spiced and reshaped to look like ham. Nutritionally, tuna franks contain twice the protein, half the calories and 70 percent less fat than hot dogs made from beef or pork. The company also sells a tuna luncheon loaf and a tuna bologna and plans to debut a line of tuna breakfast sausage in June. Grisaffi plans to market his tuna meats to the public through retail grocers and to the institutional health market through major food brokers. His tuna franks have been available in selected Houston grocery stores since the end of 1988, but the company's products were only picked up last month by two major suppliers to the institutional food trade."
---"Entrepreneur Taking Local Tuna Dog Company Public," Laurel Brubaker Calkins, Houston Business Journal, April 10, 1989, Vol 18; No 44; Sec 1; pg 15
"Tuna hot dogs just didn't float. Bounty of the Sea, a publicly traded company based in Sugar Land, claimed it had the potential of luring health-conscious consumers into spending $ 25 million a year on hot dogs and lunch meats made from -- of all things -- tuna fish. Jerry Grisaffi, a former manager of a Houston car dealership, says he trolled venture capital sources for $ 1.2 million in start-up money. Supermarkets in Texas started selling the smelly food stuff in late 1988. And an over-the-counter offering later surfaced on the pink sheets pricing the company at $ 1.75 a share. But neither the company nor its products caught on. Consumers turned their noses up at tuna wieners. And, by and large, investors didn't bite at Bounty's stock. Now the company's odd selection of tuna dogs and tuna bologna is gone from the supermarket shelves. Although the company's president says he wants to avoid bankruptcy, correspondence filed with court documents indicate the tuna business has considered filing for Chapter 7 liquidation. And shareholders are squabbling in court."
--- "Tuna Dogs Sink in Sea of Troubles," Doug Miller, Houston Business Journal, March 19, 1990, Vol 19; No 42; Sec 1; pg 1
"For years, canned tuna, frozen fish sticks and pickled herring constituted the bulk of processed seafood products available to consumers. Today, more imaginative offerings are being introduced by both domestic and international firms eager to capitalize on the public's heightened interest in fish. Many such new and unusual items debuted at Sea Fare '88, a recently concluded trade show at the Long Beach Convention Center. The latest entries ranged from exotic tropical fish species to the next generation of surimi, the highly processed seafood analog used primarily for imitation crab. Certainly, the most ingenious new brand name to surface was Ham of the Sea. At present, the line consists of tuna frankfurters and a ham-like luncheon meat made entirely from fish. The frankfurters are a blend of the yellow fin and skipjack tuna varieties while the deli-style meat is made from mahi-mahi. The products, manufactured in Costa Rica, are both low in calories, sodium and fat. Jerry Grisaffi, Ham of the Sea president, said he just came up with the catchy title without so much as mentioning that somewhat similar-sounding brand of canned tuna. Response to Ham of the Sea, he said, was extremely positive. And to prove the point, Grisaffi claims the U.S. Navy has agreed to become one of his first customers. The rest of the country can expect to see Ham of the Sea by April."
---"New Seafood Ideas are Catching on; Consumers Get Hooked on Tuna Franks, Ham of the Sea," Daniel P. Puzo, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1988, Food; Part 8; Page 2; Column 2
"Compared with other vertebrates, reptiles and amphibians are relatively uncommon at archaeological sites. Frogs and small lizard of various kinds provide useful food for some human groups today, and are not so difficult to catch. Indeed, the general lack of archaeological evidence probably results to some extent from the fragile nature of the bones of such animals, and perhaps from softer bone being often eaten with the flesh."
---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore] 1998 (p. 56)
"Frogs and snails were. a popular specialty, snails among the Romans and frogs largely in Gaul."
---A Taste of Ancient Rome, Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, forward by Mary Taylor Simeti [University of Chicago Press:Chicago] 1992 (p. 12)
The Ancient Greeks and Romans wrote about frogs in their culinary texts: "Batpaxos is a comprehensive word for a variety of tailless amphibians, including aquatic frogs (as here), tree frogs, and even toads. Frogs do not drink in the proper sense, but absorb water into their bodies through their permeable skin and cloacal vents."
---Archestatatos of Gela, S. Douglas Olson and Alexander Sens [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2000 (p. 231)
"In France in the 1390s, and elderly householder, known through his modern editor was the Menagier of Paris', wealthy but not well-born, wrote a book of household management for his fifteen-year-old wife. Unusally, he included for her use a large collection of recipes for all kinds of foods. There are even recipes for cooking frogs and snails."
---Food and Eating In Medieval Europe, Martha Carlin and Joel T. Rosenthal editors [Hambledon Press:London] 1998 (p. 33)
"Book IX 41. On Frogs
Frogs, in now way to be numbered among the fish, rightly belong in this place with respect to their cooking. I reject toads and those creatures living under the earth as harmful. These animals about which I am speaking are aquatic. They are considered better to eat when they are caught by a throw of the net than by a trident, for those touched and wounded by the bite of a serpent are not thought to touch a net. We let the legs of those which are captured be stripped of skin and soaked a night or a day in fresh water. Then when they have been rolled in meal, we fry them in oil. When they are fried and put in a dish, my friend Palellus covers thm with green sauce and sprinkles them with fennel flouwers and spices."
---Platina: A Right Pleasure and Good Health, a critical edition and translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Mary Ella Milham [Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998 (p. 415)
"The consumption of frogs is not, as is very often supposed, confined to the French. It is also indulged in, to a considerable extenty, by Americans; frogs appear to command a high prices in the New York market. An enthusiastic writer tries to convince us, that the only objection to frogs as an article of diet is the mere prejudice on the part of those who have never eaten them. 'In what respect are they worse than eels?'. The Athenoeum. recently came out in favour of frogs. 'There is no reason,' it remarks, 'why we should eschew frogs and relish turtle.'. The green or edible frog. is a native or Europe, some parts of Asia, and also of Northern Africa. It is in high request on the Continent for its flsh, the meat of the hind quarters, which is alone used, being delicate and well tasted. In Vienna, where the consumption of these frogs is very considerable, they are preserved alive, and fattened in froggeries. constructed for the express purpose. In America, the flesh of the huge bull-frog. is tender, white, and affords excellent eating. Some bull-frogs weigh as much as half-a-pound, but the hind legs are the only parts used as food. They make excellent bait for the larger cat-fish. In the Antilles, another huge bull-frog is reared in ta state of domestication for the table."
---The Curiosities of Food, Peter Lund Simmonds, facsimile 1859 edition with an introduction by Alan Davidson [Ten Speed Press:Berkeley CA] 2001 (p. 203-204)
"Frogs are at their best in the spring, and therefore it is only in Lent that they are to be seen at Parisian tables. The hind-legs alone are eaten. They are skinned, they are blanched, they are boiled, and they are served either with a poulette sauce or fried in butter. The French have a theary that frogs, having a mighty power of croaking, are good for the chest and soverign over a cough. Theri final cause in fact is the cure of the consumptive."
---Kettner's Book of the Table, E.S. Dallas, facsimile 1877 edition, prefaced by Derek Hudson [Centaur Press Ltd.:London] 1968 (p. 193)
"Frogs legs were regarded as a tasty dish in the Middle Ages, particularly during Lent. In France two main species are found: the green or common frog, and the rusty or mute frog. The draining of marshlands has considerably reduced its [green frog] numbers, but it can still be found in the Dombes (hence its fame in Lyonnais gastornomy), in Auvergne, Cologne, Brittany and Alsace. Most of the frogs eaten in France are imported from central Europe and Yugoslavia. They tend to be larger and have more meat than local species. The delicate flavor of the meat is enhanced by seasoning, and frogs' legs are often prepared with herbs, garlic and chopped parsley. The are also made into blanquettes, soups, omelettes and mousselines, and can be fried or sauteed. The most highly regarded recipes come from Lyons, Alsace and Poitour. The Menangier de Paris contained recipes for cooking them in soups and in pies. Frogs' legs are also eaten in Germany and Italy, but they have usually filled the British with disgust. When Escoffier was chef of the Carlton Hotel in London, he managed to have them accepted at the table of the Prince of Wales by calling them cuisses de nymphes aurore (legs of the dawn nymphs)."
---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated edition [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 527-8)
Choose the finest and the biggest, dress then cherrie like, that is to say, scrape the thighs of your frogs, so that the bone be clean at one end, whiten them a very little, and dry them. Make a paste with flowre, salt, milk, white cheese, of each a very little; stamp all in a mortar, and make it liquid, untill it be like a paste for fritters. Take your frogs by the bone end, and dip them in, and put them in very hot butter, fry them as fritters, and serve garnished with fried parsley." (p. 226)
Pass the great legs in the pan with good butter very fresh, mushrums, parsley, artichocks sod and cut, and capers, all well seasoned. Put it into a sheet of fine or puft paste, and bake it; after it is baked, serve uncovered with a white sauce." (p. 198)
Truss up your frogs, and boile them with broth, or with pease broth, and season them with parsley, an onion sticked with cloves and a twig of thime. Stove your bread, and garnish it with your frogs whitened, with saffron or yolks of eggs, then serve." (p. 132)
---The French Cook, Francoise Pierre La Varenne, Englished by I.D.G. 1653, introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [Southover Press:East Sussex] 2001
Escoffier offers seven recipe for frogs legs in his classic Le Guide Culinaire, 1907. These are: "Grenouilles Sautees aux Fines Herbes, Grenouilles Frites (fried frogs' legs), Grenouilles au Gratin, Genouilles a la Meuniere, Mousselines de Grenouilles, Grenouilles a la Poulette and Nymphes a l'Aurore (referenced above, recipe below):
Trim the frogs' legs wll, poach them in white wine sauce and trim and allow to cool in the cooking liquid. When cold, drain and dry them carefully with a clean cloth. Coat each with white Fish Chaud-froid Sauce which has been coloured by the addition of a little paprika. Set a layer of very clear Champagne-flavoured Fish Aspic Jelly in the bottom of a deep square silver dish or glass bowl; place the prepared frogs' legs on top and intersperse them with tarragon leaves and chervil Pluches so as to imitate water plants. Cover the legs completely with the same jelly and allow to set in a cool place. To serve: present the dish of frogs' legs set in a suitably sculpted block of clear ice."
---The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, Escoffier, The first translation into English by H.L. Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann of Le Guide Cuilinare in its entirety [John Wiley:New York] 1979 (p. 256)
The only edible part of frogs are the hindquarters, which is how you buy them, strung on wooden skewers. Freshness is of paramount importance, and can be judged by the appearance of the skin, which should be taut and shiny. As well as the classic recipe a la Poulette, you can prepare frogs in several ways. Whatever the recpe, you always cut off their webbed feet with scissors.
Time: 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then saute in butter in a pan over a strong heat to season and color them well. Arrange on a plate or a timbale and moisten with lemon juice, then finally, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Or, dip in flour and saute in the pan, using a few tablespoons of good olive oil instead of butter. If you wish, add a little bit of garlic."
"Frogs' legs. Any of various preparations using the legs of three United States species of frog, the "green frog" (Rana clamitans), the "American bullfrog" (R. Catebeiana), or the "northern leopard frog" (R. Pipiens). The majority of these are caught in Florida and Louisiana, where they are a delicacy, either deep-fried or made with a spicy sauce."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman] 1999 (p. 134)
Use only the hind=quarters of the frogs. After washing them in warm water, soak well; then put them into cold vinegar with a little salt, and let them remain one or two hours, after which throw them into scalding water, and remove the skin without tearing the flesh. Wipe them dry, dust flour on them and fry in butter or sweet oil, with plenty of chopped parsley. When brown, dust pepper with a little salt over them, and garnish with crisped parsley. Stewed frogs are seasoned with butter, wine, beaten eggs and parsley chopped fine."
---La Cuisine Creole, facsimile 2nd edition, 1885 [Famous Recipes Press:Louisville KY] 1966 (p. 32)
Prepare and clean one dozen frogs' legs, put a thick layer of minced mushrooms and sifted brown breadcrumbs in a baking dish, lay the pieces of legs on them, season with salt and pepper, strew a few sweet herbs over, also more sifted crumbs, put to or theree amll bits of lemon peel on the top, squeeze over the juice of a lemon, and pour in aobut one breakfast cupful of brown gravy. Cover the whole with a sheet of buttered paper andbkae for half an hour in a moderate oven. When cooked, brown them under a salamander, and serve in the same dish."
---The Cook Book By 'Oscar' of the Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky [Saalfiedl Publishing:Chicago] 1908 (p. 98-99)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Broiled Frogs' Legs, Fricasseed Frogs' Legs, Fried Frogs' Legs and Stewed Frogs' Legs.]
The hind legs of the common green frog are enjoyed in both Europe and in the United States as a delicate food much resembling chicken. There are two varieties on the market--the small marsh frog and the large bull frog. The latter is the more convenient for use and market purposes, but the smaller kind is more delicate in flesh. They are in season all year, but are considered best from June to October. Frog farming has become a recognized industry, the output of the ponds having, in the neighborhoods of large cites, as sure sale at fair prices. Among the devices for feeding them are boards smeared with honey or sugar, to attract insects withc the frogs greedily devour."
---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 255-256)
Frogs' legs are becoming more and more plentify on the market, keeping up with the increasing demand. This country consumes more frogs' legs than any other. A few years ago, frogs' legs were prohibited in certain seasons by now we have them all the year round. They are raised in special places like terrapin, oysters, etc. Their meat is delicious and as white as the whitest part of chicken.
Dip them in milk, roll in flour and saute in very hot oil or butter. Remove when they are golden brown and place them in a serving dish. Season with salt and pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cook some butter until it becomes nut brown and pour over the frogs' legs. Serve with slices of lemon."
---Cooking a la Ritz, Louis Diat [J.B. Lippincott Company:Philadelphia] 1941(p. 148)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Frogs' Legs a la Poulette and Frogs' Lehgs Provencale.]
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablepsoon chopped parsley
2 chips whole tomates
1 egg, slightly beaten
Melt butter in a 10-inch skillet. Saute green pepper, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, onions and shallots. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer over very low heat 10 minutes. While sauce is cooking, make a batter of the egg and milk. Dip frog legs in this batter and drain. Dredge in flour and fry in butter until golden brown. Add to sauce and simmer five minuts more. Arrange legs on serving platter and cover with sauce. 2 servings."
---Brennan's New Orleans Cookbook, edited and illustrated by Dierdre Stanforth, new revised edition [Robert L. Crager & Company:New Orleans] 1964 (p. 102)
Food historians confirm sardines have been consumed for thousands of years. Members of the herring family, sardines take their name from the tiny island country of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean. Sardine cuisine is traditionally popular throughout this region. Pilchards are sometimes called "Cornish Sardines."
"In commerce "sardine" is not the name of any one fish but rather a collective term for a number of small soft-boned species in the herring family. The cannning industry began on the island of Sardinia with a Mediterranean species Sardina pilchardus, thus the name had historical acceptance. However, there are some difference in texture and flavor between the various fishes and often extreme variations in the quality of the pack. Large fresh sardines may be split and cooked over charcoal while butter basting, then served with generous splashes of lemon juice. In the Sicilian style they are baked in white wine, Sarde al Bino Bianco, or baked with a stuffing made from bread crumbs, anchovies, pine nuts, white raisins, onions and parsley in making a Sarde a Beccafico."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt Rinehart:New York] 1977 (p. 276-7)
"Sardine. A small, delicately flavored, salt-water fish. It is found everywhere, but especially off the shores of Brittany, where the sardine fisheries are a source of wealth for the inhabitants. It is said that in the eighteenth century they already produced an immense revenue, and in the city of Port-Louis alone, four thousand barrels were put up each year. Sardines are abundant in the Mediterranean, especially around Sardinia, form whihc they derive their name. Only inhabitants of the coast can eat fresh sardines, and even so the sardines must be salted as they are taken from the water, for of all fish these keep the shortest time. Sardines are prepared by salting and smoking. Those from the North are the most highly esteemed because aromatic herbs and spices are added to their brine, giving them a very pleasant flavor. But these sardines do not keep very long. When they have spoiled, they are used as bait for mackerel and other sea fish. Pisanelli claims that sardines love the sound of musical instruments, and will stick their heads out of the water to listen. Drinkers especialy fond of saridens, which stimulate their thirst and, they say, help them distinguish the best wine."
---Dictionary of Cuisine, Alexandre Dumas, originally published 1873, edited, abridged and translated by Louis Colman [Simon & Schuster:New York] 1958 (p. 214-5)
"Fresh sardines and Royans which are a type of large sardine, lend themselves to numerous preparations. Monsieur Caillat's book 150 Manieres d'Accomoder les Sardines is devoted soley to these fish and is recommended to anyone wishing to utilize them for their menus."
---The Compelete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, Escoffier, 1907, the first translation into English by H.L. Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann of Le Guide Culinaire in its entirety [John Wiley:New York] 1979 (p. 215)
Sardines (& French Sardines, American Sardines) The Grocer's Encyclopedia/Artemas Ward
Pilchards (aka Cornish sardines & Gypsy herring) are native to Cornwall and Devon England. They figure prominently in the local fishing industry and cuisine. Stargazey Pie, featuring local pilchards, is a Christmas dish from the old days.
"Pilchard (Sardina pilcsarsdus), a fish of the herring family. Its name in England of the 16th century was 'pylcher' or 'pilchar,' the origin of which is unknown. Sardine is simply another name for a young pilchard; the sardines that are tinned in France and Portugal are immature fish of the same stock as the pilchards taken off the coast of Cornwall. Pilchards are also called 'gypsy herring.' Because of their high fat content they travel very badly, which is why, like sardines, they are only to be bought fresh in the neighbourhood of the ports at which they are landed. The shoals appear without warning and only briefly, and often almost the whole catch is tinned. However, in Cornwall it is possible to buy them fresh after a catch, and then they are baked, grilled, or, particularly prepared as the famous Cornish dish star gazey pie. Pilchards used to be salted and smoked all over the West Country and were known there as Cornish 'fair maids,' a corruption of fumado, the Spanish word for smoked, which no doubt became current when Spanish fishing fleets used to assemble off the Cornish coast in the 18th century. It is possible that some of the curious sunken pits to be seen in Cornwall were used for the smoking of the these fish in early times. In the 18th century and earlier, oil was extracted from pilchards. The best season for pilchards is the latter half of the year. They are chiefly obtainable canned in a strong tomato sauce which entirely destroys their original flavour."
---Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe, Theodora Fitzgibbon [Quadrangle New York Times Book Company:New York] 1976 (p. 340)
"Pilchards are rarely found on the British shores except on the coasts of Cornwall and Devon, particularly the former, where the are captured in great numbers from the middle of July to the end of November, or even the middle of December. Cornish fishermen say that the pilchard is the least fish in the sea for size, the most in number, and the greatest for gain taken from the sea. The principal seats of the pilchard fishery are St. Ives, Mount's Bay, and Mevagissey. The fish are captured either by seans or by drift-net. A sean is a net 200 to 300 fathoms long, and over ten feet deep, having cork buoys on one edge and lead weights on the other. Whenever the fish are brought on shore they are carried to cellars or warehouses, and piled in large heaps, a sufficient quantity of salt being placed between the layers. After remaining in this state for about thirty-five days they are carefully washed and cleaned, and then packed in hogsheads, containing on an average 2,600 fish. They are then pressed, so as to extract the oil, of which each hogshead yields about three gallons, provided the fish be caught in summer. Those taken late in the season do not yield above a gallon and a half. The fresh fish in a hogshead of pilchards weigh about six hundred-weight, and the salt about six hundred-weight and a half; the weight of the hogshead, however, when cured and pressed, is reduced to about four and a half hundred-weight, including the weight of the cask, which ranges form twenty to twenty-four pounds. The quantity of pilchards taken at one time is sometimes extraordinary. Mr. Yavul, in 1841, mentions that an instance has been known where 10,000 hogsheads have been take in one port in a single day, thus providing the enormous multitude of over 25,000,000 of living creatures drawn from the ocean for human sustenance. Pilchards are not used in England except in Devon and Cornwall. They are principally exported, and are largely consumed in some parts of the continent during the season of Lent. The taste of the pilchard is very like that of the herring, but it is more oily. Even after much of the oil has been removed by pressure, it is still as rich as could be wished."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875 (p. 572)
[NOTE: This book offers a recipe for Pilchard and Leek Pie (A Devonshire Dish), instructions for cooking pilchards and a line drawing of the fish.]
"Pilchard, called also the gipsy herring, is a fine fat fish most abundant on the Devonshire and Cornwall coasts; but it is to be found all over the Channel, and on the French coast it goes by the name of sardine. They are large for sardines, but they are treated as such in Devonshire and Cornwall, and are now sold in tins under the name of Cornish sardines. The result is worthy of praise, and ought to be the beginning of a successful industry. It is the first attempt in England to preserve fish in oil. It would be too much to say that they are equal to the best French sardines--that was not to be expected in a first experiment; but still they are good, well-flavoured sardines; and when the Cornish men--Tre, Pol and Pen--have thoroughly mastered the are of preserving fish in oil, their fat little pilchards should be known as the finest sardines in the world, and the perfection of preserved herrings. We know little of the pilchard in London, or anywhere far from Land's End. The fact is, that being the most sublime of herrings, with a richness which raises him almost to the nobleness of a salmon-trout, the pilchard, with all his fatness, begins to spoil much too soon after he has bidden adieu to his native element; and he is by no means sublime--he is even rancid--when he reaches the glorious Walhalla of fish in Billingsgate. Whenever a pilchard is found fresh, he is to be cooked as a herring of high degree. His season is between July and Christmas. It is singular, considering the goodness of the pilchard, that he is of no repute when cured, and is not to be named beside the bloater of Yarmouth, the salt erring of the Dutch, or the red herring of Scotland. Probably the larger pilchards, with their salmon-trout flavour, might make a name for themselves in the form of kipper; and there is now every prospect that the smaller pilchards will spread their renown in the guide of Cornish sardines."
---Kettner's Book of the Table, E.S. Dallas, preface by Derek Hudson, facsimile 1877 edition [Centaur Press:London] 1968 (p. 351-352)
"Pilchards. Those are found in great numbers on the coasts of Cornwall and Devon. They are very oily, and are only eaten in the uncured state in or near the places where caught; but they are cured in large quantities after the oil has been extracted by pressure; even then, they are very rich. While fresh, they may be dressed like herrings, and the pilchards in oil--sold in tins, the Cornish are the best--are very useful as a breakfast dish, or they may be converted into little savouries in the same way as sardines. The cost in the fresh state is uncertain; tinned ones are about 1s for the best brands. In Devonshire, a pie is made of pilchards and leeks, but the taste is an acquired one, and it would probably not prove palatable to those unaccustomed to such a combination. The fin of the pilchard is just in the middle of the back; it is thus easily distinguished from a herring."
---Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book, Lizzie Heritage [Cassell and Company:London] 1894 (p. 174)
According to the Cornish Sardine Management Association, "Cornish Sardines" was coined in 1997. Our research confirms this appellation was used for pilchards in the 19th century.
Hevva! Cornish Fishing in the Days of Sail/Ketih Harris 
The Housekeeper's Guide to te Fish-market For Each Month of the Year: And an Account of the Fishes and Fisheries of Devon and Cornwall in Respect of Commerce, Economy, Natural History, and Statistics/John Cremer Bellamy 
Food historians confirm oysters are the most popular mollusks consumed by humans from prehistoric times to present. Snails (both terrestrial and sea) arguably come in second. Think: mussels, escargot, scallops, clams, and periwinkles. Able to survive in both fresh water and seas, hot climates and cold, mollusks required little effort to harvest, compared to game. High in protein and consumable in both raw and cooked states, it is no wonder mollusks played an important role in global cuisine.
"There is certainly plenty of evidence that prehistoric men took full advantage of this high protein food [mollusks]. A very considerable number of sites throughout the world have yielded shells, both of terrestrial and marine molluscs."
---Food in Antiquity, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins University Press:Baltimore MD] 1998 (p. 59)
"An edible mollusc found in all the oceans of the world, especially in cold regions."
---Larousse Gastronomique [Crown Publishing:New York] 1961 (p. 638)
". that delicious mollusk in the blue-black, hinged double shell, which we call mussel because the Romans called it musculus. Musculus literally means 'little mouse' (mus). Evidently the household rodent and the edible coastal shellfish struck the ancients as similar. In the flexing of the bicep, Romans saw an even that reminded them of the movement of a mouse. In English, we now make an orthographic distinction between the two, but modern Italian continues to reflect the ancient confusion. It uses the same word, muscolo, for thews and for mussels. From the gastronomic (not to mention physiological) point of view, there is no real confusion here at all.When we eat mussels, we are eating muscles (as well as other tissue). Adjuctor muscles hold the two shells of the mussel tightly together. The cook's job is to make those muscles relax so that he or she can get at the little 'mouse' inside."
---"A Matter of Taste: Shellfish Desire," Raymond Sokolov, Natural History, April 1979 (p. 104)
"Among European mussel eaters, the French claim to have possessed the first mussel farm, in 1235, their national pride no whit diminished by the fact that it was an Irishman who established it, and his achievement, if it can be called that, was the result of a series of mistakes. His first error was to become so unpopular with the police that it seemed advisable to leave Ireland in a hurry. His second was to do so in a boat unequal to its task. His third was to become wrecked on the coast of France. His fourth was to try to feed himself by trapping sea birds. To this end he drove a few stakes into the water at the edge of the beach, in the form of a W, his initial (his name was Patrick Walton), and stretched nets among them. The sea birds declined to fly into the nets, but after a time he noticed that mussels had attached themselves to the stakes and were growing famously there; he shifted from game to seafood. He is also credited for having invented a flat-bottomed boat, name an acon, capable of navigating on a heavy dew, to harvest his mussels from their shallow-water habitat. The stakes are called bouchots, and in France today the most prized mussels are moules de bouchots, smaller, tenderer, paler and tastier than other kinds, and twice as expensive. Assuming that the tale is true, it does not make Patrick Walton Europe's first mussel cultivator, even if it is not exact, as some writers allege, that the ancients were raising mussels at Taranto about 500 BC, lowering bundles of branches or ropes into the water for mussels to cling to. The ancient Gauls seem to have been cultivating mussels before the Romans came; and when the Romans arrived they did the same (but in beds, not on stakes); Patrick Walton's acon is mentioned in the capitularies of Charlemagne only about AD 800."
---Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World, Waverly Root [Smithmark:New York] 1980, 1996 (p. 276)
"Moules marinier is a classic firshman's preparation that involves steaming mussels in a big pot over a small amount of white wine containing onions, butter, and seasonings. Some people make a mock-snail dish with mussels, stuffing the mussels in snail shells and covering them with the garlic butter used with snails. Mussels can be skewered with bacon and broiled. They fry beautifully when breaded or when coated with yeast or beer batters. Italians open them raw, discard one shell, and sprinkle them with grated cheese, parsley, minced garlic, and a little olive oil before running them under the broiler. Mussels lend themselves beautifully to fish soups. A bouillabiasse parisienne is a bouillabaisse with mussels in it. Mussels go well on pizzas. And they make a brilliant addition to pasta. Not all mussel cookery is so simple and unpretentious. sophisticated mussel soup with saffron [served] at an elegant restaurant. Among the really arduous mussel recipes is the old-fashioned French method of stuffing raw mussels. Haute cuisine coast mussels with various sauces and compound butters.."
---"A Matter of Taste: Shellfish Desire," Raymond Sokolov, Natural History, April 1979 (p. 108-109)
Early Modern cuisine: La Varenne [1651, 1653] instructs thusly: "Mussels of fish. Cleanse them, and boile them a very little with a bundle of herbs. As soon as they are opened, take them up, and take them out of the shell. Then fry them with fresh butter, parsley and minced chibols, seasoned with pepper and nutmeg. Then ally some yolks of eggs with verjuice, and mix them together. Serve, and garnish with the best shaped of their shells."
---The French Cook, La Varenne, Englished by I.D.G. 1653, introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [Southover Press:East Sussex] 2001 (p. 157)
"Mussels a la marinere. Line a buttered saucepan with 2 tablespoons of chopped shallot. Add one or two sprigs of parsley, a sprig of thyme and a quarter of a bay leaf. Put in 2 quarts (litres) of mussels, trimmed, scraped and washed. Add 2 tablespoons of butter cut into very small pieces. Moisten with 1 cup (2 decilitres) of dry white wine. Cook, covered, over a very high flame. As soon as the mussels are fully opened, drain them. Remove one shell from each, and put them in a bowl. Keep hot. Take the parsley, thyme and bay leaf out of the saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the stock. Mix well and pour over the mussels. Sprinkle with chopped parsley."
---Larousse Gastronomique [Crown Publishing:New York] 1961 (p. 639)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipes for Mussels a la bordelaise, Mussels in cream, Curried mussels, Fried mussels, Mussels a la hontroise, Mussels a la poulette, Mussels in a border (ring) of rice, Rissoto with mussels , Mussel sauce and Mussel soup.]
Ancient Roman Apicius included two recipes using mussels. One is steamed in white wine, passum (dessert wine) leeks, savory, cumin, garum (anchovies). The other is Mussel Balls: steamed, pounded to a paste, combined with eggs and grain, and roasted over hot ashes. Think: meatballs
15th century Platina on mussels (Book X:38): Mussels are a kind of shellfish. They ought to be cooked in a pan without water. When you see the shells open because of the heat, put in verjuice with a bit of ground pepper and chopped parsley, and mix and transfer immediately into serving dishes. First, they should be kept a night or a day in well-salted water so that they lose their natural bitterness."
---Platina: On Right Pleasure and Good Health, A critical edition and translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, Mary Ella Milham [Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies:Tempe AZ] 1998 (p. 449)
16th century Martino on mussels: "Take a dry pan and place the mussels in it over heat; and when they open, they are cooked; as soon as you see them open, add a little verjuice to the pan and some pepper and finely chopped parsley, and flip them once or twice in the pan. Likewise, they can be cooked on a hot iron rod or on hot coals, and when they open they are cooked. But note that they will be better if soaked in well-salted water for a day or a night, because it will make them purge the sand that they have inside."
---The Art of Cooking, composed by the eminent Maestro Martino of Como, edited and with an introduction by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen [University of California Press:Berkeley CA] 2005 (p. 103)
"Mussels are the oysters of the poor, said Grimod de la Reyniere, and they ought to be favoured also by the rich, for there is scarcely a shell-fish which surpasses them in flavour. Especially in these days, when oysters are dear, mussels might occasionally take their place in sauces and stews. The French are wise, for they still hold the mussel in regard--it is one of the chief attractions of that noble ragout, the Normandy Matelote. In England--be it said with shame--the mussel is chiefly used for bait; it is rarely seen at any good English table--it is only in houses where the French style of cookery reigns that it is to be had. People are afraid of mussels because once or twice they have proved to be hurtful. So have mushrooms; so have melons: but still mushrooms and melons are eaten. Mussel-poisoning must be extremely rare--or we should know more about it. Our science is not so backward that if, among the myriads of mussels which the French consume, the cases of poisoning were numerous."
---Kettner's Book of the Table, R.S. Dallas, facsimile 1877 edition [Centaur Press:London] 1968 (p. 307-308)
"Mussels are cheap and full of flavour. They may be used with advantage instead of oysters for fish sauces and stews. Many people are afraid of them, thinking they are poisonous, bu they are wholesome enough if well washed, and if the piece of weed, and also a small crab often found inside, are removed before serving. They should be avoided in those months which have not R in the names."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875 (p. 436)
[NOTE: We find it curious after stating the English consider mussels poisonous, ten recipes are provided: Mussels a la Poulette, Mussels and Rice, Boiled Mussels, Fried Mussels, Ketchup of Mussels, Pickled Mussels, Ragout of Mussels, Sauce of Mussels, Scallopped Mussels, Soup of Mussels and Stewed Mussels.]
"The Atlantic coast Indians had non-poisonous mussels and were afraid to eat the; the Pacific coast Indians had poisonous mussels and ate them all the same. Nearly half of the flesh food consumed by prehistoric Pacific coast Indians was provided by shellfish; and among shellfish, in a kitchen midden found on Catalina Island dated ate 4000 to 3500BC, two kinds dominated all the others--the abalone and the mussel."
---Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World, Waverly Root [Smithmark:New York] 1980, 1996 (p. 276)
"In most of North America, mussels were almost ignored as a food source until the last half of the twentieth century. Mussels were known in Europe and Great Britain as edible, although some cookery literature pointed out that people sometimes became sick after eating them. There was very minor commercial gathering of mussels for the New York market, and an effort was made around the turn of the twentieth century to persuade consumers to use them. In the last few decades of the twentieth century, with clams becoming scarce and expensive and with the public becoming more aware of various ethnic mussel dishes, the shellfish grew in popularity."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, volume 1 (p. 487)
"In the past, freshwater mussels have been gathered commercially in the United States, and Illinois has always been a leader in the harvest. During the 1800s, mussels were used to manufacture tons of pearly buttons. The button industry continued to grow here and abroad and, in 1932, some 54.2 million pounds of mussels were gathered nationwide by professional fishermen."
---Edible Plants and Animals, A.D. Livingston and Helen Livingston [Facts on File:New York] 1993 (p. 93)
"Among the lesser-known prizes available to New Yorkers are mussels, known in France as the poor man's oyster. Throughout the winter months they are relatively plentiful at first-class fish markets here and the cost is relatively low. Although mussels are the base for some of the most delectable dishes known, some cooks forswear them on the grounds that they are difficult to clean. And indeed they well may be. Mussels spend their existence clinging to rocks and piers with enormous tenacity and a fiber-like tuft outside the shell is a characteristic. Perhaps the best known of all mussel dishes is the simplest. It is called mussels a la mariniere. "One of the sublime creations of all time, however, is billi bi, a cream of mussel soup. It is made with the cooking liquid of mussels, egg yolks and heavy cream. After the dish is made, the mussels may be reserved for another use or they may be taken out of thsell and served in the soup."
---"Food News: The Poor Man's Oyster," Craig Claiborne, New York Times, November 22, 1961 (p. 22)
"Though not an English mollusk, the clam was sufficiently similar to the English mussel and cockle to be readily adopted into the colonists' diet. On occasion, it was even admired. There were practical reasons why there was little enthusiasm fo rshellfish. On the simplest ground, the settlers, coming mostly from the middle levels of European society, would have considrered a hardship any diet that relied exclusively on one food, if only seasonally. Also, while they employed Indians as shellfish gatherers, the English were sometimes forced to collect this resource themselves, and this was no easy task. Obtaining enough shellfish to sustain a family was exhausting work. It was during the eighteenth century that the clam began to escape its old associations for the colonists and to assume a new identity as an agreeable food. But the process was a slow one. the clam was becoming a symbol not only of the scarcity of the early years but rather of the natural abundance that fed the revered founders. In fact, many different seashells "were being incorprated regulary in physcial as well as symbolic form in American commemorative celebrations by the end of the eighteenth century. The shell had. become a symbol of American cornucopia. As the nineteenth century progressed, the new notion of shellfish, especially clams, as symbols of bounty and celebration took firmer hold. Clams were entering the cuisine in chowders, soups, stews and pies. But clams also retained older associations with simple sustencance and were till eaten as inexpensive everyday fare. "
---America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill NC] 2004 (p. 88-90)
The history of the "traditional" New England clam bake might surprise you. Clams were indeed plentiful, but the early American settlers considered them starvation food. The practice of the New England clam bake, as we know it today, began after the Civil War.
"Indians, it is said, discovered clambaking first. Back before history, they had learned how to cook clams and other seafood in pits dug on the beach, usuing hot rocks for heat and wet seaweed for steam. When the Pilgrims arrived, the Indians taught them how to do these clambakes, along with a lot of other useful things, and this tradition was passed along, unbroken, in Yankee culture form generation to generation, down to the present eay. Or at least that's how the story usually goes, asserted and "proven" time and time again in the reports of archaeologists and antiquarians, in various culinary histories, in journalistic, literary, and poetic renderings, and in the testimonies of enthusiastic modern-day clambakers and clam eaters. A statement such as "The Pilgrims learned the ingenious technique [of clambaking] from the Indians" is a succinct presentation of an idea that is not only commonly accepted but that has also substituted for other, more rigorous attempts to chronicle the presence of this unique foodway on American soil. The fact that there is no direct proof for this particular history of clambaking marks the beginning of the story I will try to tell. A close study of the evidence suggests that instead fo being a seamlessly organic development, the transmission of a clambake tradition has been uneven, at best, and, at worst, shows signs of having been extremely "unnatural." However we may ultimately judge its role within native American cultural practices, the clambake within a Yankee contect has been consistently manipulated for a variety of proposes. Particularly during the late nineteenth century,when clambaking reached the zenith of its popularity, the clambake appears to be a by-product of a combined romantic and capitalistic fervor. "Invented tradition" is the term historians Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger have given to phenomena like this--revered folk customs and ritual complexes that appear to be based on older social orders but that are, in fact, constructed and reconstructed by different groups and generations in such a way as to legitimate existent institutions and values."
---Clambake: A History & Celebration of An American Tradition, Kathy Neustadt [University of Massachusetts Press:Amherst] 1992 (p. 15-16)
"Generations of historians incorrectly record that the New Rngland clambake is the survival of a native custom learned by the first English colonists. Archaelogidal and hsitorical evidence supports clam eating by Native Americans, but not by the newcomers, who identified them with 'savagery.' Clams were a starvation ration to the Europeans, who used the abundant shellfish to feed pigs. The clambake myth arose from the social and political changes grough about by American independnce. The new nation needed an icon of its unique cultural identity, and an 'ancient ritual' featuring indigenous food provided it. It is no accident that the popularity of the clambake exploded after the Civil War, when a new national myth was again created. Plymouth replaced Jamestown as the cradle of America, and the 'New England' clambake became an American institution. The advent of mass transportion in the late nineteenth century gave businessmen the opportunity to turn the clambake into a tourist industry. No longer exclusive to New England, clambakes seem to require only that the clams be cooked by setam. A 'traditional' calmbake occurs in a pit dug in the sand of the beach where the clams are gathered. The pit is lined with rocks, and a fire is built over them. Then the rocks are white hot, they are covered with layers of seaweed, clams, and other foods. A wet tarp is laid over all until the food is cooked. Items typically included on the menu are lobster, corn, white potatoes, clam chowder and cold beer."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New YOrk] 2004, volume 1 (p. 237)
An impromptu clam bake may be had at any time at low tide along the coast where clams are found. If you wish to have genuine fun, and to know what an appetite one can have for the bivalves, make up a pleasant party and dig for the clams yourselves. A short thick dress, shade hat, rubber boots,--or, better still, no boots at all, if you can bring your mind to the comfort of bare feet,--a small garden trowel, a fork, and a basket, and you are ready. Let those who are not digging gather a large pile of driftwood and seaweed, always to be found along the shore. Select a dozen or more large stones, and of them make a level floor; pile the driftwood upon them, and make a good brisk fire to heat the stones thoroughly. When hot enough to crackle as you sprinkle water upon them, brush off the embers, letting them fall between the stones. Put a thin layer of seaweed on the hot stones, to keep the lower clams from burning. Rinse the clams in salt water by plunging the basket which contains them in the briny pools near by. Pile them over the hot stones, heaping them high in the centre. Cover with a thick layer of seaweed, and a piece of old canvas, blanket, carpet, or dry leaves, to keep in the steam. The time for baking will depend upon the size and quantity of the clams. Peep in occasionally at those around the edge. When the shells are open, the clams are done. They are delicious eaten from the shell, with no other sauce than their own briny sweetness. Melted butter, pepper, and vinegar should be ready for those who wish them; then all may "fall to." Fingers must be used. A Rhode Islander would laugh at any one trying to use a knife and fork. Pull off the thin skin, take them by the black end, dip them in the prepared butter, and bite off close to the end. If you swallow them whole, they will not hurt you. At a genuine Rhode Island clam bake, blue-fish, lobsters, crabs, sweet potatoes, and ears of sweet corn in their gauzy husks are baked with the clams. The clam steam gives them a delicious flavor. Brown bread is served with the clams, and watermelon for dessert completes the feast."
Another traditional American meal that began after the Civil War? Thanksgiving (as we know it today).
In 2009, FT editor wrote this general historical overview "The Truth About Clams Casino," Lynne M. Olver, Gastronomica, Winter 2009 (p. 88-90). As noted in this article, recipes that achieving Clams Casino predate the name. Newly uploaded Internet content (GoogleBooks, NYPL digitized menus) enable us to push back the first print reference date. Of course, without recipes, we cannot be 100% certain these Clams Casino references are the same dish we know today. The fact our older sources are from NYC confirms the dish's existence in that place/time. Not necessarily point of origination. This evidence does, however, completely debunk the 1917 Keller theory of origin.
Food history 101: Curious readers and professional scholars naturally question "claims" of first occurance (print or otherwise). The Internet makes it relatively easy to identify earlier dates for recipes, ingredients, &c. than found in standard food history reference sources. That, in itself, does not discredit the value of the book or author's credibility. History is collective effort. Enjoy the journey & share what you find!
 "Clams Casino - baked in shell bacon and peppers.”, Explanations of all terms used in Coockery Cellaring and the preparation of drinks Pocket Dictionary Kurt Heppe (p. 50)
"The crowning event of the Booksellers' Convention was the beautifully arranged and lavishly generous entertainment that was given to the members of the Association, their wives and sweethearts by Funk & Wagnalls Company, at Long Beach. Long Island. An invitation was extended to everyone to assemble at the offices of the company in the Hess building at Fourth Avenue, on Thursday morning, the 14th, at half past eleven. The guests were then shown the handsome suites and offices occupied by the firm, which commanded a view of the city in every direction. Automobiles were furnished to convey the guests to the Long Island station, where a special train was waiting to take the party to Long Beach. Just before arriving, the guests were requested to assemble on the piazza of the Nassau Hotel, so that their pictures might be taken. Immediately after the party was photographed, luncheon was announced and two hundred guests filed into the beautiful dining room of the Hotel Nassau and partook of the following delicious menu, which was perfectly cooked and served. Menu. Canape of Anchovy. Soft Clams Casino. "
"Snail. Escargot. The common name for a land gastropod mollusc. It was highly prized as food as far back as Roman times. The art of fattening snails is said to have been discovered by a Roman named Fulvious Lupinus. In France, the vinyard snail is the most popular."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961(p. 882)
"Snail, group of terrestrial molluscs. Numerous species are native to Europe, some much bigger and better to eat than others. An early sign of their use for human food is the pile of discarded snail shells at Franchthi, dated around 10,700 B.C. Snails were also eaten at Minoan Akrotiri, perhaps imported there from Crete as a luxury item. Romans took snails seriously; their was probably the first civilisation in which snails were kept and fattened for the table. The made a suitable gustus or appetiser, as Apicius shows. Snails were also a common food among Greeks of the Roman period, according to Galen; however, Greeks rather seldom wrote about eating snails. Snails were fattened on emmer meal mixed with grape syrup."
---Food in the Ancient World from A to Z, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2003 (p. 305)
"The first French snail recipe was given around 1390 (by the author of the Menagier de Paris [a cookbook]), but was not echoed in other medieval French cookery texts such as the Viandier of Tallevent. The only reference to snail-eating in the 15th century seems to imply that it was practised in Lombardy rather than in France. In the 16th century there are numerous signs of a more positive attitude and it is clear that they were served at banquets. Of particular note is their inclusion in a little booklet published in 1530, whose title translates as A Noteworthy Treatise Concerning the Properties of Turtles, Snails, Frogs, and Artichokes by Estienne Laigue. The author criticized four foods that he felt were all equally bizarre but popular with his contemporaries. Of the four, he was kindest to this snail. After 1560 snails went into a decline for about 90 years, culminating in a virtual banishment from refined tables for almost 200 years thereafter. The evidence for this was abundant. If a cookery book gave a recipe for snails, it would be with an apology for introducing such a distasteful foodstuff. not a single one of the best restaurants in Paris in 1815 had snails on the menu. although snails were absent from Parisian tables at the beginning of the 19th century, they were being eaten in the eastern provinces. When the great comeback began, in the 1840s, and turned into what, despite the slow locomotive habits of snails, might be called a flood in the 1850s and 1860s, it could be seen to be linked to the spread of brasseries in Paris; and there were typically opened by Alsatians, neighbours who doubtless shared the taste of the snail-eaters in Lorraine. Certainly, the comeback was very noticeable and achieved so complete a reinstatement of the snail that it has stayed in place ever since."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 727, 729)
Escoffier offers five escargot recipes in his famous Guide Culinaire : a la Mode d'A'bbaye (onions, cream, egg yolks), a la Bourguignonne (buttered-stuffed with white bread crumbs), a la Chablisienne (white wine, shallot, butter), a la Dijonaaise (white wine, challlot, butter, pepper, cloves, garlic, truffles) & Beignets d'Escargots a la Vigneronne (deep-fried with butter, chopped shallot, garlic, salt).
There are several types of edible sea snails. One of the most popular is the periwinkle, originally a "poor man's" food now served by some fine restaurants.
"Sea snail." 1. A name for various marine gasteropods. 2. A fish of the family Liparididae, esp. the Liparis vulgaris, or unctuous sucker."
[NOTE: The earliest print reference cited by the OED to this word dates to 1000 (definintion 1), and 1672 (definition 2).] The entry for "sea snail" in The New Food Lover's Companion (3rd edition/Sharon Tyler Herbst) refers us to this entry for periwinkle:
"There are over 300 species of this conical, spiral-shelled univalve mollusk. but few are edible. Periwinkles, also called bigaros, sea snails or winkles, are found attached to rocks, wharves, pilings, etc. in both fresh and sea water. The most common edible periwinkle is found along the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America. It grows to about 1 inch in size and is gray to dark olive with reddish-brown bands. Periwinkles are popular in Europe but rarely found in the United States. They're usually boiled in their shells, then extracted with a small pick." (p. 460)
"Periwinkle. Littorina littorea, an edible mollusc living in a small single shell. widely distributed on both sides of the N. Atlantic. Periwinkles, or winkles as their vendors commonly call them, are now eaten much more in Europe than America, although the middens of American Indians testify to their use there in the past. Prehistoric mounds in Denmark, Scotland, and elsewhere show that they have been a popular European food for a very long time; and the diveristy of vernacular names, such as kruuk'ls in Zeeland, points to continuing popularity in more recent centuries. Now, however, they are becoming a grander food, being served as amuse-greules in expensive restaurants. Species of Littorina are found around the world. It is usual to cook periwinkles for about 10 minutes in boiling, salted water, and then to pick them out of their shells with a pit. The cooked winkles can be eaten thus; but in some places they are dressed with a sauce, and then have an egg or two cracked over them to be left to fry or else scrambled."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 596)
"Periwinkle. These are small snaillike mollusks belonging to the family or Littorinidae. There are nearly 300 species known throughout the world but relatively few of these reach edible sizes. Winkles livein large colonies in freshwater, brackish and marine environments. The common edible marine periwinkle. was originally found in the European Atlantic but has spread around the eastern coast of North America from canada during the apst two centuries, passing Cape Cod a little over 100 years ago. It now occurs as far south as Delaware Bay. Roasted in the shell, winkles were once hawked on the streets of London, and they are still purveyed both in cooked and uncooked form in Great Britian's markets. Northern European countries utilize about 5,000t tons annually. Periwinkles are generally and collectively known as bigorneauxz (plural) in French cuisine, but provincially the mollusk is called vognot in Brittany and brelin in Normandy. Periwinkles are delicious when simply boiled in salted water until the "lid" of thes shell, or operculum, falls open. The meats can be picked out with a pin and dipped into melted butter. Also known as Bigorneau (France), Bigaro (Spain), Burrie (Portugal), Chiocciola di mare (Italy), Strandsnegl (Denmark & Norway), Strandsnacka (Sweden), Strandschnecke (Germany), Puzic (Yugoslavia), Tamakibi (Japan).
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClaine [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 229)
"The perwinkle (Turbo littoreus) is more extensively used as food than any of the other testaceous univalves. It owuld hardly be supposed that so triffling an article of consumption as periwinkles could form a matter of extensive traffic; but the quantity consumed annually in London has been estimated at 76,000 baskets, weighing 1,900 tons, and valued at L15,000. This well-known mollusc is found on all the rocks and shores of our own islands which are left uncovered by the tide, and also in America and other countries. The cockneys and their visitors are deeply indebted to the industrtious inhabitants of Kerara, near Oban, for a plentious treat of this rather vulgar luxury; and the Kerarans are no less obliged to the Londoners for a never-failing market, for what now appears to be their general staple article. They are gathered by the poor people, who get 6d. A bushel for collecting them. From Oban they are forwarded to Glascow, and thence to Liverpool, en route to London. Very few are retained in transit, better profits being obtained in London, even after paying so much sea and land carriage. Every week there are probably 30 tons or more of this insignificant edible sent up to London, from Glasgow, all of which are collected near Oban, and must be a means of affording considerable employment, and diffusing a considerable amount weekly in wages, amongst the numerious persons employed. The periwinkles are packed in bags, containing from two to three cwt. Each, and keep quite fresh until they arrive at their utimate destination. In London they sell at 3d. A pint."
---The Curiosities Of Food, Peter Lund Simmons, facsimile 1859 edition with introduction by Alan Davidson, [Ten Speen Press:Berkeley] 2001 (p. 344-5)
[London:1874?] "Periwinkle. Littorina littoria is pre-eminently the periwinkle of the British coasts. Immense quantities are brought to the London market, and form a considerable article of food among the poorer classes. After being boiled, the animal is picked out of the shell with a pin. "Periwinkles, boiled, --Wash the periwinkles in several waters, and then let them soak in plenty of fresh water for half an hour; when that is done, wash them again. These precautions will be found necessary to cleanse the fish from the mud and sand which adhere to them. Before boiling, shake them up to make them withdraw into their shells. Put them into a saucepan, and cover with boiling sea-water that has stood a little while to settle, and then been poured off from the sediment. Boil quickly for twenty minutes, and serve, accompanied by brown bread and butter. Probably cost, 2d. A pint. Suffiecent for three or four persons."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1874? (p. 537)
Sharks have been relished in many cultures and cuisines for hundreds of years. In China, shark's fins are celebrated banquet fare. In the United States shark consumption is a 20th century phenomenon. We were surprised to learn American consumption begins during WWI. Why did Americans begin consuming sharks & what kind did we prefer?
"For aestetic reasons sharks have never been a popular food in America, at leat not under their correct name. Yet, both primitive and sophisticated cultures have utilized sharks as food since ancient times. Although the flesh of some sharks is known to have a strong purgative effect on man (the cow sharks) and in some instances may be toxic, as in the case of the Greenland shark which is perfectly edible when allowed to ferment in making Eskimo tipnuk or the Iceland hakarl, other species are an excellent food. The factor that prevents large-scale marketing in America is largely psychological, and not indicative of an inferior product. In 1916 the U.S. government embarked upon a campaign to promote a small shark known as the 'dogfish' as a source of protein, and a substantial market existed until the end of World War I. This diminished until the period from 1937 to 1941 when an intensive commercial fishery was conducted for high-potency vitamin A shark livers. The flesh was purveyed under the name 'grayfish,' which did not promote sales, nor did later use of the already popular 'whitefish' gain currency. Nevertheless, as much as 9 million pounds of shark was landed in one year in California alone. After begin processed for liver, the edible parts were sold. This was the peak of shark consumption in the U.S. Along the coast of Maine old salts called the dogfish harbor halibut."
---The Encyclopedia of Fish Cookery, A.J. McClane [Holt, Rinehart and Winston:New York] 1977 (p. 312)
[NOTE: This book offers instructions for butchering and cooking shark and recipes for Barbecued shark, Shark with Chinese vegetables, Shark-fin soup, and Fish 'N'Chips.]
"An exhibition of the latest researches in food values and economies was opened at the American Museum of Natural History yesterday. It was announced that members of the museum staff had tried shark meat and found it tasty. A shark steak was shown ready to be cooked."
---"Shark Steak in Food Show," New York Times, May 24, 1917 (p. 22)
"Russell J. Coles, who taught Col. Roosevelt how to harpoon devilfish, announced today that he has discovered a method of preventing world-wide starvation by tests he has carried out with regard to certain species of the dark shark and ray family. Mr. Coles has just come back from Morehead City, N.C. where he caught a number of fish, and despite the popular belief that the eating of them would bring death in a terrible form, he decided to take the risk and he sampled several of them. He has sent a complete record of his findings to Herbert Hoover in the hope that the food administrator will incline an ear and start the fashion of shark eating. After trying various methods the Danville man gives the following recipe for cooking shark steak: Salt heavily for 30 minutes, soak out in three waters, parboil again, cook heavily seasoned and and serve hot. The amount of seasoning must be used according to the odor of the meal."
---"Offers Shark Meat to a Hungry World," special to the Washington Post, August 26, 1917 (p. 14)
"Shark steak will be the piece de resistance at the annual banquet of the Society for the Propagation of the Truth About Sharks. Which is soon to be held. The society includes no vegetarians in its circle, and, as far as we know, has not a single member who has any qualms about eating the fair game that is sought by the human species. It is chiefly concerned with reduing the sum total of human fear, by showing that the shark is far from being the frightful creature so often pictured by the human imagination in its mood of distortion. Not a little of this fear of sharks is a pure psychological reaction. To be beautiful is to be good, and to be ugly is to be damned."
---"The Misunderstood Shark," Washington Post, June 9, 1939 (p. 12)
"'I know a fellow who prefers a nice mako shark steak to swordfish. I'm not an enthusiastic fish-eater, but mako and dogfish (a species of sharl). are very tasty. [John G.] Casey, acting director of the Narragansett Marine Gamefish Laboratory, is convinced that sharks are a significant United States fisheries resource, a resource that is currently neglected. In Japan, Europe and Africa hundreds of tons of shark are consumed annually. Commercial landings in the United States are about six or seven million pounds annually. To this writer's knowledge, few, if any, of the shark steaks or fillets retailed for human consumption in the United States are labled shark. Although some people migh turn up their nose at shark meat, most Americans who served in the Euopean Theater during World War II probably didn't realized the dish of England's famous fish and chips was usually dogfish or school shark."
---"Wood, Field and Strem: Shark Called Tasty Item for Dinner," Nelson Bryant, New York Times, December 22, 1968 (p. S6)
"It seemed only fair that a beast responsible for the dark paranoia of millions of moviegoers should now supply some sustenence in the shape of Shark Steak, Shark Benedict, and succulent Shark Marseille. Eating shark, apparently, is the latest spin-off from "Jaws," and while the sophisticates along the Eastern seaboard and in Florida and California will no doubt lay claim to eating it all the time, it is just beginning to find a market in Chicago. 'The trend has created an instant demand. Even then there are only a few sharks that are edible. The most popular one is the Mako.'And fly it in from the coast they did. First Shark Steak, grilled over charcoal, then Shark Benedict. Shark Marseille--thin strips of shark cooked in butter and sherry, with all manner of seasoning. Part of the shark shortage problem is that there is no industry set up for catching shark for the table. Recently, fishermen who have caught them have take only the jaws and teeth, which then are sold at inflated prices. The meat has been thrown away. Now, as the food becomes more and more popular, the fishermen are selling to restaurants all over the country. Most people. approach eating shark apprehensively, and it certainly looks formidable as it is being cut up. The popular opinon tha shark tastes like swordfish. it is a clean, dry taste with virtually no fish smell. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals and has almost as much protein as canned tuna. One big disadvantage is the price. It retails at around $2.95 a pound."
---"A Switch! You Eat The Shark," Sean Toolan, Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1976 (p. 8)
"Shark meat, once disguised under names such as flake and steak fish, has become an acceptable alternative to higher-priced tuna and swordfish. Fishermen say they get $2 to $2.50 a pound at the dock for prized mako shark steak and about 50 cents a pound for the less desirable species. A shark fin brings $5 to $10 a pound. The Fulton Fish Market Retail Store at the South Street Seaport in New York sells mako shark to consumers at $5.95 a pound, swordfish at $8.95 a pound and tuna at $9.95 a pound."
---"Forget what you thought of sharks, they're really neat," Daniel Machalbala, Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1990 (p. A1)
"For years swordfish was relegated to the role of token fish offering on meat-oriented restaurant menus. Now it seems forgotten in the throng of more exciting-sounding and less expensive fish. Swordfish likely never will be inexpensive because the large, dramatic-looking fish with the swordlike upper jaw is caught by time-consuming longline harpoon rather than nets. Indeed, the high price of swordfish tempts some dealers to pass off similar-looking mako shark steaks as the real thing."
---"Swordfish may be pricey but its good qualities make it ideal for fast meals," Patricia Tennyson, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1991 (p. 10)
"At one time the cry "shark!" quickly brought panic and mayhem. Now, it's more likely a call to the dinner table. If seafood is part of your regular diet, there's a good chance you've unknowingly dined on this fish more than once. For instance, a "swordfish steak" may actually be mako shark; "scallops" are sometimes sharkfin plugs. In many locales, "Fish 'n' Chips" might be more appropriately called "Shark 'n' Spuds." Certainly, shark by any other name still tastes as good, but why not choose to eat it for its own sake? With a minimum of preparation and proper cooking, it provides excellent, firm steaks; if you don't go offshore yourself, it's usually reasonably priced at retail fish markets; and your local fish purveyor has already done the hard work. Once it reaches retailers, shark meat has been bled, cleaned, and is nearly ready to cook. If you buy over the counter, select shark steaks or fillets that have a clean, white color and no yellowing, blood spots, or freezer burn (if the steaks were frozen). Whether the meat had to be thawed, is "fresh local," or came from your own efforts, soak it in milk for at least 1 hour before any other preparation takes place. A milk marinade tames the gamey flavor and readies the meat for just about any savory whitefish recipe. Once soaked, shark can be grilled, broiled, baked, fried in strips, or used in chowders, stocks, stews, and soups."
---"How to make a killer dinner," William Reidenbach, Field and Stream, August 1993 (p. 63)
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