Ask Poops, Please

Putting my two cents in.

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Location: Belmont, New Hampshire, United States

Born and bred in a small New England town, I am convinced that I know something about everything, and that my opinion matters. If only to me. Well, you'll see what I mean. And I love to knit, so you'll see what kind of things I'm doing when I should be vacuuming the living room.

Monday, October 18, 2010

PSA #2: Friends Don't Let Friends Cook Drunk

If you've ever watched The Barefoot Contessa, you've likely seen an episode or two where some of Ina's underlings are preparing one of her cookbooks for publications. She's making dishes that look just scrumptious right out of the pan, use only the finest and freshest ingredients, and then there's the whole aforementioned staff working hard to make sure that when they're in print, the pictures make you want rip it right out of the cookbook and stuff it in your eager maw, it looks that yummy, you betcha.

There was a time in cookbook publication where that was clearly not the case. Let's face it: cookbooks have come a long way, baby. First and probably the biggest improvement is that the art of photography and publishing (and food photography in particular) has come a long way. Better equipment, better film (or no film at all), better printing, better lighting...just better everything. Technology is your friend.

The second option is that cookery has come a long way. You can still go to the grocery store and you can pick up any number of recipe books at the checkout stand. I have a Pillsbury one that features their "poppin' fresh" line of refrigerated doughs in the recipes, and I have one from Betty Crocker with cakes and other baked delights concocted from her simple mixes. It seems clear to me that the cooks in the test kitchens were actually working hard to make simple yet very tasty meals with convenience foods you could grab at the grocery. Very seldom does one open to a random page and go "What the FUCK were they thinking?"

The Heinz Cookbook brings a third and far more likely scenario to mind: the authors were just snot-hanging drunk when they wrote this sucker.

It's 1939. One war is over and a new one is Europe is just starting. Prohibition has been repealed and powerful men in natty suits are having cocktails and smoking endless cigarettes around the board room table. They're looking at photo prints and recipes from the folks down in the Home Economics Department. "That looks good!" Harry Bronstein (not his real name) exclaims. "Put it in!"

Harry has a thing for peanut butter and pickles. He developed a taste when his wife was pregnant with their son Skippy, since that was all she served him for dinner for three months. Harry complained...once. The next day she served him peanut butter and boogers. Harry's loved peanut butter and pickles every since.

How else would you explain that this isn't the only PB&P combo in the book? It's not even one of TWO. Is there something about this concoction that I'm just not getting?

Now imagine, if you will, the young exec that looks at the chapter so carefully prepared on "Sauces" and says to the hushed stares around the boardroom table, "I'm not fond of sauces--I want to taste my food."

The first thought, naturally, is to burn the young man with cigarettes until he comes around to the party line, but then our forward-thinking top exec Don says, "Hold up, Harry. Before you touch up young Frank here with your Lucky Strike, let's think about that. What if other people out there are thinking the same thing about sauces? We have to make them think that they've been doing sauce all wrong! Make them think that they're practically cavemen if they don't douse everything in a concoction made from our fine ingredients. Why, they could use Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Cream of Celery Soup, or even Heinz Strained Apricots and Apple Sauce as a topping for everything. "

A murmur goes around the table as options are considered. Don pulls a photo out of the pile. "Look here," he says. "Look how scrumptious these onions look with a can of tomato soup on them! We're not going to be able to keep women from tearing the page right out of the cookbook! They're such simple creatures, you know."

Laughs and hearty back-slaps are exchanged as glasses are refilled and cigarettes are lit.

It's the only way I can reconcile myself to the fact that this is a recipe in the book.

Bologna Cups of Spaghetti

One large (24 oz.) can of Heinz Cooked Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce
Slices jumbo bologna, cut 1/8 inch thick
until they cup. Fill bologna cups with Spaghetti then sprinkle with
Grated parmesan cheese.
Garnish attractively and serve at once.

Just be glad there wasn't a picture of this.

You may go vomit now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gaaaahhhhgggh. *urp* That bowl of onions with tomato soup?...I don't even want to go where that visual has take me. But I do have one word; Cramps. Auntie Meal has to go lay down now.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

I think my breakfast is going to make a reappearance. Pickles and PB are bad enough, but onions in tomato soup? I seriously hope they boiled the onions or something. Otherwise, the air at that party is going to be truly pestilential.

7:11 AM  

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