Sunday, February 24, 2013

Arthur Murray's Hamburger Masquerade

"Your guests will go away well-fed and envious of your prowess."

So now we know. Arthur Murray was not just a famous dance teacher of the 1930s on whose famous chain of dancing schools are still teaching people to rumba and mambo. After a day of turning wallflowers into Valentinos, Arthur could cha cha cha into the kitchen and make some "conversational ice breakers." Hamburger, the wallflower of the fridge, was turned into what looked like chops as fancy as Cinderella going to the ball, frilly skirts included. It's not just a meal, it's a masquerade!

Yes, the folks would have been talking about these Hamburger Chops all right. And since Arthur Murray's students included famous folks like boxer Jack Dempsey and Eleanor Roosevelt (who really liked hot dogs, which Arthur may not have known), there would be some interesting talk, all right.

Arthur's recipe is, in essence, meatloaf  - i.e., hamburger mixed with bread slices soaked in milk and crumbled, an egg, some chopped onion and a little Lea and Perrins of course, since the ad is for their sauce.

Lea and Perrins made what we know as Worcestershire sauce, which is used mainly to flavor meat and fish, although there are apparently about 998 other uses for it. It is a blend of malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, anchovies, salt, tamarind extract and various spices and peppers. And garlic. Oh, and onions. A lot of different things, in other words.

After you make the meatloaf, you shape it into what look like chops, and cook it. Then you stick paper frills around the narrow part to "disguise" it. I just wish that Arthur Murray looked a little happier about the whole thing. If you're trying to trick the dinner guests, for heaven's sake, at least chuckle a little as you put your chops à la J. Wellington Wimpy in the oven.

A bigger version of this 1941 ad is here, just in case you'd like to make this "meal in masquerade."

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