Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ham it up!

What should I eat for energy? People who ask that today might reach for an energy bar, not realizing that "energy" in the food world simply means that the food has calories, so technically any food is energy food! Well, unless you consider indigestible matter to be food. Enjoy eating that legal pad.

The quest for energy is nothing new, though. Today's pamphlet, "60 Ways to Serve Ham" (undated, but I've seen estimates that it is from the 1920s), wants readers to know that "Ham Is One of the Best Heat and Energy Producing Foods." See?

You know it's true because Royal S. Copeland, Former Commissioner of Health of New York City and then U.S. Senator, says so! I love that this claims ham is full of "those essential oils most needed for the maintenance and proper functioning of the body." Apparently people in the '20s ran on ham grease (and were mangled to death by errant farm machinery when they were still too young to worry about heart disease).

So what recipes helped harness the power of ham grease?

I don't get what makes this a "ham duck." I guess it's the stuffing, similar to what's usually put in poultry. I mostly just posted it because I like writing "ham duck." So ham duck!

You might notice that the chart above suggests appropriate accompaniments to a ham duck: currant jelly for relish, plus baked sweet potatoes, buttered carrots, pineapple salad, and cottage pudding with orange sauce. I think that combination might get cloyingly sweet after a while, but maybe the salt in the ham duck ham duck ham duck would help cut through it.

I was surprised that a pamphlet this old would have a "Mexican" recipe in it, but:

I wonder how much effect a tablespoon of chili powder will have in half a cup of brown sugar, but still, I'm surprised to see chili powder and ham at all. I just wish I had some idea what readers were supposed to serve with their "Mexican" ham. Peas and dinner rolls? Or might the writers have recommended something more interesting like seasoned rice and refried beans? I'd love to be surprised.

They did have recommendations for one "exotic" dish, though:

Chop suey! It was never the most authentic dish anyway, but this version doesn't even have soy sauce or bamboo shoots. I guess the celery and molasses transform it from ordinary ham. Serve with rice for the "potatoes," plus stuffed olives, creamed peas, a date and pineapple salad, and sponge cake.

Yep, chop suey with creamed peas. Okay, I'm pretty sure Armour wouldn't have surprised me if they had recommended sides to go with the Mexican Star Ham....

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