Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Homework On A Bun

Back when I was in the 7th grade (all right, in 1974) we were the last class to take Cooking instead of the trendier CT (Communications & Theater, my dear - in other words, as it turned out, Giving A Lot Of Tiresome Speeches). And so we gathered in a classroom with two hotplates per table, and groups of four of us clustered around each hotplate, earnestly making some frightful mess or other and trying not to fidget or look at the clock too often (which was hard, as the class was as boring as it was messy - always a bad combination!)

We each got a mimeographed cook booklet (remember mimeographs? that was before xeroxing even) and had homework if you please - had to go home and cook a certain number of things in the booklet. You weren't supposed to cook outside the booklet, not that we were up for Julia Child or even the Galloping Gourmet with that glass of wine he had on hand (though that bit looked a little more promising, still does on a tough day).

The one thing I remember cooking for my homework, in our apartment's galley kitchen, were hot dogs, split lengthwise, stuffed with processed American cheese, which were supposed to toast merrily in the oven. We had a tiny wall oven, very dark and scary, rather like a miniature subway tunnel. The hot dogs were pretty scary looking too, once I'd got done with them.

This recipe is like that mimeographed one - sort of. It comes to us courtesy of the Home Economics Department of the H.J. Heinz Company from their classic Heinz Book of Salads and Meat Recipes which they claim is "something new in recipe books for the woman who likes to make every meal a culinary triumph." The menacing italics are theirs, not mine. Personally, I just want to make every meal edible - never mind the culinary triumph.

There are some great pictures in this book, and when we get into some of those salads (for I adore strange retro salad recipes) I will scan them in. But at the moment my scanning capabilities are limited as it requires linking this computer with that printer and other things I am still playing around with. When I am an expert in this I will edit these entries and fill them up with graphic retrograde-A imagery. And that will be a culinary triumph enough for me!

Luncheon Frankfurter Rolls

1 pound frankfurters
1/2 cup Heinz Sweet Mustard Pickle [you didn't think you were getting out of this without using Heinz stuff, now did you?]
2 Tb of mustard sauce from the above pickles
3 Tb Heinz mayonnaise [what did I tell you?]

Cook frankfurters in boiling water until tender. Cool, remove skin, and put through the food chopper, together with the Pickles [their capital P, not mine - is that their surname?] Add mustard sauce and Mayonnaise [same deal as the pickles] to form a moist sandwich filling. Cut tops from the rolls, scoop out part of the center, butter rolls and fill generously with the meat mixture. Replace tops and serve. For the packed lunch wrap each sandwich in waxed paper.

That's as may be, but if I wrapped that up and sent it to school in the lunch bags, there would be a revolution in the streets. Or a revulsion in the streets.

But I love this kind of recipe just because I would never want to make it! It's a look into pop history - same with old ads, old magazines, weird fads. It doesn't make it into the standard history books - but maybe that's just as well. More fun for me to tell you about it - more fun for me, anyway!

The photo is from the amazing NYPL Digital Gallery, and shows a hot dog stand in New York probably in the 1920s.

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