Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The scenic route to a man's heart, maybe?

I would think the quickest way to a man's heart would be through the chest, but I'm not quite as sentimental as women are presumed to be.

The good women of 1926 were expected to to want to win men's figurative hearts, and 161 New Ways to a Man's Heart (Carroll Rheinstrom) suggests these recipes can help women produce "a peaceful and contented mood" that will help women "retain" their husbands' love.

Of course, we all know that the grape jelly pictured on the cover is a great aphrodisiac, but what other foods will make husbands so loving and forgiving?

If you guessed something fancy, like caviar, you'd be half-right.

Caviar and Gelatine Sandwiches are at least not false advertising, letting you know right up front that to get to the caviar, you're going to have to eat some consomme-flavored gelatin. (Not mentioned in the title is the fact that appetitsils-- a name for a type of sardines so obscure that a Google search comes up almost empty-- are embedded in the gelatin as well.) The promised caviar is hidden away inside the gelatin cavity and buried under chopped egg yolks and parsley. I'm not sure how delighted husbands of the 1920s might have been by this creation, but I imagine they might have been puzzled into silence when staring down this weird little sandwich, and isn't that good enough?

What if your sweetheart wants something sweet?

Sweetbread Patties won't really fit the bill, except for having the word "sweet" in the title. But if your sweetie loves thymus chunks and egg sauce in patty shells, well, this is a party!

If you're the type who loves to spend hours on a fussy recipe to show how much you care, this might be a good option:

Make a thick cream sauce. Cook, skin and bone a pound and a half of fish, then rub it "through a strainer with a wooden potato masher." (Sounds like fun!) Mash the strained fish with beaten egg whites with a wooden spoon for 12(!) minutes, slowly mix in "the cold cream sauce by the tablespoonful," then chill for an hour. If you think that's the end, you're mistaken-- now it's time to whip cream, "oil a mould and bake fish like custard." Serve it with a seafood sauce you made in the meantime, all for the sweet reward of having your husband remark, not quite so sweetly as one might hope, "You really thought I wanted fish custard? Are you out of your mind?" (Okay, I can think of one guy who thought he might like fish and custard, but not prepared this way.... and his tastes are a bit unusual.)

To accompany one of these abominations, the vegetable chapter offers this... unusual... side dish:

Chestnuts and Prunes! Another dish that promises hours' worth of work in exchange for puzzled glances from the family, this one requires peeling and scraping two pounds of chestnuts and cooking them for an hour before adding prunes, chopped suet, sugar, and spices before another four hours of cooking. It's like having a demented Christmas dessert as a side!

Yes, 161 New Ways to a Man's Heart makes me wonder if men's hearts were made of something different back in the 1920s.


  1. Of course, the title does say NEW ways, but perhaps the old ways were better! 😄

    1. Or maybe the old ways just involved more suet. It's hard to know for sure.