Saturday, November 23, 2013

Floss at the table!

Okay, so I've been less than charitable in my Thanksgiving-themed posts. Maybe your goal isn't to make sure you don't have to host again. Maybe you just want to make sure your misanthropic friend doesn't come back again. If so, you're in luck. I noticed a trend in sides that would keep me away: celery as star!

I can't say I hate celery. It's fine to add a little texture to a bread stuffing. I don't mind it cut into tiny pieces and used to bulk up a soup or stir-fry. I mean, I won't pick it out and fling it at the wall or anything. I just don't see much point in it, and big hunks of it kind of gross me out. Celery is like taking a carrot, draining all the lovely color and flavor out of it, and threading it with several yards of dental floss so every bite is a crunchy but bland, stringy mess.

Since I see celery as a bit player at best, I was surprised to see some holiday cookbooks base entire side dishes around it for Thanksgiving. I'm always suspicious of home ec teachers, but the Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers New Holiday Cookbook (1974) at least seemed to recognize that celery would need a lot of help:

With all the half and half, cheddar, and toasty breadcrumbs, it might be easier to overlook that this recipe is, at heart, a casserole dish full of celery.

Okay, maybe that side wouldn't completely scare me away. If you don't want to leave it to chance, consult Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook (1959) instead:

A few sauteed mushrooms and toasted almonds are not enough to hide the shame that is a serving dish full of boiled celery. If Neiman-Marcus could pull it off, it is only because Neiman-Marcus had a fancy enough name that they could intimidate others into believing it was good. People in the '50s were just lucky Neiman-Marcus didn't decide to make a side dish out of cigarette butts and coffee grounds, or they would have had to pretend the bitter, ashy flavor and gritty texture were exquisite.

1 comment:

  1. I once did a post for National Celery Month (March) where I attempted to answer someone's question as to "What's Exciting About Celery." It seems celery needs to be brought into the 21st century. After all, just look what has happened to bacon? (although miles away in everything that is boring about one and exciting in the other:)

    The scalloped celery sounds dreadful. And, I have a feeling the only reason why Neiman-Marcus got away with serving the second is because at that time, Helen Corbitt, author of the Neiman Marcus Cookbook, could get away with anything!

    Thanks for sharing, Poppy...