Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Create a sensation!

When the title has an exclamation point, the writer must think she has to work extra hard to get readers to believe its assertion.

At least, that's my theory for Simply Delicious! (Gertrude Wright, 1976). Is this booklet really full of simply delicious recipes? Well, I imagine the chocolate cake on the cover is fine, but some of the other stuff, like that enormous platter of appetizers in the front, is pretty sketchy.

And that is why the apps are my favorite part of the book. Let's start out by looking a little closer at the contents of that platter:

Yes, the tray is crammed full of suspect tidbits. Since people love gelatin with olive eyeballs in it (or maybe nipples, the way these little blobs are paired up?), I'll start with them.

They are Paté 'n' Miniature-- all the beef consomme, liver paste, and deviled ham firmed up with gelatin you can stand! (I love the way the "n" makes it look as if the title is missing a word at the end. Paté 'n' Miniature what? Marshmallows? Dachshunds? Golf?)

The bacon spirals may look pretty innocent, but they're not exactly a thrill either:

The bacon hides prunes (stuffed with pecans if you're lucky, or water chestnuts if you're not). I'm sure the book is correct that "most [guests] will be surprised to find they're eating prunes" after picking up a bacon roll, but I'm not convinced they will be as pleased by the surprise as the book seems to suggest.

Now, you might think the strawberries around the edge are safe, but don't they look a bit misshapen? And isn't the greenery a little off? Well, there's a reason for that.

Those aren't strawberries! They're lumps of Velveeta shaped into a strawberry, then rolled in red sugar and topped with parsley. There's a surprise for you! (And if picking up a sugar-covered Velveeta strawberry isn't a weird enough surprise, please note that this also suggests making cheese pumpkins to top a pumpkin pie-- just in case you need a last-minute tip for your Thanksgiving dinner.)

Did you notice the weird-looking lump in the center of the plate? Take a closer look:

Is that some kind of a weird swamp-based flower, torn from the muck and flung on the plate? Well, in the belief that everything is better with gelatin, the recipe writers have even jellified the centerpiece:

Yep, even the rose has to be encased in a mold! I'm thinking that this is supposed to be purely decorative since the rose is secured with tape, but then again, the recipe also calls for sugar. Is anybody supposed to eat the rose jelly? I'm hoping not, but who the hell knows?

The appetizer weirdness is not confined to the platter from the cover, either. My favorite just might be this afternoon craft-project-turned-hors-d'oeuvre:

“When there is no room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

Ahem. So where did this mangy chicken and her circle of ... pink nightmares... come from? In this case, the egg definitely came before the chicken:

The hen is basically an enormous glob of extra-gluey egg salad hand-molded into a shape vaguely resembling a hen, then covered with sieved yolk "to resemble feathers." (I'm not overly familiar with chickens up close, but I'm pretty sure they're not usually covered with yellow lumps unless something has gone very, very wrong.)

And what of the pink circle surrounding nightmare chicken?

They're small hens, of course! Shrimp balanced on a deviled egg and iced with pink cream cheese. The cookbook asks, "Notice how it resembles a hen in a nest?" I have to admit that I've been trying to notice for 20 minutes, and I still think they look more like convulsing scorpions or trained seals that are still performing even though they've been flayed.

"Guaranteed to create a sensation!" indeed. On this point, I am sure Simply Delicious! is correct.


  1. They certainly outdid themselves for that one. Guests won't have to worry about filling up on the appetizers, of course they may not want the meal to come either. As for the congealed rose, it may be the best tasting thing on the tray. After all, rose water has been used in cooking for a long time.

    1. That's true! It certainly sounds better than a bacon prune to me.

  2. I laughed heartily at your "Dawn of the Dead" reference but then I stared into the vacant eyes of that zombie chicken and realized "Hey egg salad is the most vile stuff on earth!" and what does egg salad smell like? SULPHER! Yes, that monstrosity surely came from hell.

    Happy thanksgiving to you and your family, Poppy! xoxo

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I thought "Dawn of the Dead" was appropriate for this one, and your connecting egg salad to hell makes total sense!