Saturday, April 18, 2015

Corny pies, hellish herring, and frosty melons

Time for another dip into the behemoth that is Good Housekeeping's Cook Books! Prepare for a trip because today we're looking at "Good Housekeeping's Around the World Cook Book."

I mentioned before that this looks impressive because it lists 21 countries, but most places are represented by just a few recipes. The bulk of the book is about cooking in France, Italy, and Hungary.

Cuba, for example, is represented by a single recipe:

I know precisely nothing about Cuban cooking. (Well, I've heard of Cuban sandwiches, but that doesn't count for much!) I had doubts, for some reason, that a pie crust filled with rice, bacon, canned chicken, and cream-style corn was a great representation of the cuisine, though, so I tried looking it up.

My suspicions seem to be on target, since searches kept thinking maybe I was looking for a recipe for majarete, a pudding made by cooking corn in milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It sounds pretty good, really, a corny version of rice pudding... but it's certainly not the pie here!

The closest versions I found were this Chicken and Corn Pie (which has a corn crust and chicken, tomato, raisin, olive, prune, and hard-cooked egg filling! Yikes!) or a Trinidadian Corn Pie that features onions, peppers, and cheese rather than rice and chicken.

So based on my research, this doesn't seem like the logical choice to represent Cuba if one is limited to a single recipe. I guess a rice-and-bean dish, ropa vieja, or even a Cuban sandwich would have been a bit much to ask of a 1958 Good Housekeeping publication....

Something told me that the representation of Sweden was a bit more authentic. Since I hate anything pickled, anything sweet-and-sour, any main dish that mixes meat and fruit, and any type of beets (sweetened dirt that dyes everything pink!)-- this recipe is my idea of what the devil would serve in hell if I believed in such nonsense....

And a quick search showed that my hunch was right! Plenty of web sites share similar recipes for sillsallad. Apparently there are plenty of people to whom this sounds like a perfectly fine dish!

France was represented by more than two dozen recipes (and I'd even heard of most of them!), so I was not as worried about whether any individual recipe was representative of French cuisine as a whole. I was really amused by one that came as... well... a surprise. Here's the delightful picture:

Isn't there something comical about a melon bursting open to spill fruit all over the platter? It's like the money shot in a snuff film for fruit... which doesn't exactly whet my appetite, but does make me think perhaps I should filter my thoughts just a little more carefully when I know other people might read them. (What fun would that be?!)

And what is this dessert that I have just so elegantly described?

Why, it's Melon en Surprise, of course! While I don't care how authentic this recipe is, I know the idea lived on well into the '70s, as Yinzerella at Dinner is Served 1972 made a Frosty Melon that was similarly cored, stuffed, and frosted with cream cheese. Her version kept the filling in place with Jell-O, though, so the money shot was not nearly as splatterrific.

Have a lovely weekend! I might work on my new screenplay for the Marseille Melon Massacre.


  1. Oh, my! Your comments on Swedish food! I too hate mixed food and am none too fond of beets, but you should hear my dearly beloved rant about beets! I will have to tell him your description of them; I suspect he will make it his own. (You should hear his line about his mother serving canned beets next to mashed potatoes, so the plate ends up covered in pink glop. Or something like that.)

    1. I'm glad to hear there's a fellow beet-hater out there! They are pretty trendy, so it's hard to find people who admit to hating them. I'd always gag when my mom served canned beets...

  2. I'm sure Sweden is a beautiful country. HOWEVER, the food is terrible. Hmmm, flat white fish coated in lye and sour berries. Nom! ;-)

    1. Of course, being covered in ice for months and months every year probably makes anything seem good by comparison. That might explain the food.

  3. I'll be sharing that beet description with my daughter Poppy. She detests them and that's putting it mildly, lol...

    I knew tonight was the perfect time to pop on by (it's the first chance I got too:) I was needing a lift up and a good laugh. Thank goodness I wasn't humgry though. None of these recipes seems appealing. I really wonder whether the new staffers at GH ever go back and see what was cooking in 1958. Perhaps they would realize food has been trendy FOREVER!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Poppy...

    P.S. Not back to blogging yet but missing everyone soooooo much!!!

    1. I'm glad you got a chance to stop by. We miss you too!

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