I was hunting through my well-thumbed copy of The Joy of Cooking, looking for some meal-planning inspiration. Mind you, a friend gave me this book in college. Even though the original edition was published in 1931, my 1975 version couldn’t have changed much. Let’s just admit that both my book and I are old.
I was at first amused—and then appalled—at the menu suggestions listed. Mind you, these are intended for company meals. If someone invited me to lunch and then served some of these, I’d suddenly begin a very spiritual fast that would last until I could run through a McDonald’s on the way home. Could it be a regional difference or did they really eat these things?
Here are some highlights:
Breakfast and Brunch Suggestions:
- Orange and grapefruit sections, boiled smoked tongue, scrambled eggs, brioches.
- Broiled grapefruit with sherry, grilled kippers on toast with scrambled eggs
- Eggs poached in tomato soup, baked winter squash, melba toast and Bel Paese cheese
- Macedoine of pears and melon balls in port, oyster and chicken croquettes, brioches and jam
- Poached cherries, baked brains and eggs, coffee cake
- Clear watercress soup, tripe à la mode, boiled new potatoes with parsley, blender fruit whip
- Frog legs Forestière, garnished with green peas and fresh mint, melon salad, corn zephyrs, and cream meringue tarts
Dinners for Family and Friends
(Serve Gänseklein and they won’t be friends for long!)
- Gänseklein (I had to look this up; it’s made with goose backs, necks, gizzards, wings, and heart, served in a gravy), apples stuffed with sauerkraut, nockerln (a noodle-like dumpling—no problem here), and rote grütze (a German fruit pudding that actually looks pretty good)
- Chestnut soup, rabbit à la mode with gnocchi, creamed lettuce (you can do that?), and a compote of Greengage plums
Other “interesting” recipe suggestions included marrow balls, fried lettuce, smelts, prunes in wine, and broiled veal kidneys.
Of course, some of you may actually like things like boiled tongue, baked brains, and goose gizzards. That’s fine. I hope you get to eat them often. But please don’t serve them to guests (or me) without making sure that they’ll be welcome.
Since we’re in ministry, we often have people we don’t know over for a meal. If possible, I try to find out ahead of time if they have any dietary restrictions. So many people these days can’t have sugar, or salt, or high cholesterol foods. Others are vegetarians, can’t handle spicy dishes, or just don’t like something (lima beans anyone?).
If I’m flying blind, I have my fall-back recipes… foods that most people like and that are sufficiently healthy to not cause problems in most cases.
For the main course, I make some sort of chicken. If I really want to be safe, I’ll make Italian chicken. It’s easy… marinate some boneless/skinless chicken in Italian dressing. Then grill it or sauté it in olive oil, along with some onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes. Top with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese and allow the cheese to melt.
I add a tossed green salad with the dressing on the side, and maybe broccoli or green beans. For a starch, I warm up some garlic bread or make risotto. Dessert can be as simple as fresh fruit sliced into a pretty glass bowl.
There are plenty of more exotic dishes in my repertoire, but I’ll save those for friends I know better—those I’m confident will enjoy my out-of-the-norm recipes. The goal isn’t to show off my culinary talents, although I do love to cook. I want to make my guests feel welcome and at home in our home.
What standard company meals to you rely on? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been served as a guest? How did you handle the situation?
And for the record, I like lima beans.
Hmmm… I went to a friends house (with you!) and we were eatting this fish pasta thingy… and then I realized that the little white noodles were the fish. Whole. (With little black beady eyes!) fortunately, I had already eaten a bunch and liked it, so I just tried to not think about it. I did, however, know ahead of time that it would be an authentic Chinese meal, and I’m one for trying unique dishes, so it was ok.