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"Bush Family Cookbook"


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New Englanders use a lot of convenience product for that very reason, and I guess even though good veggies and fresh foods are now avaliable that time of year, they have a "taste" for canned vegetables and canned goods now, if you want to call it that, its part of their DNA.

Not just New Englanders, though. Upthread you had someone hailing from underneath South Dakotan snowdrifts. I'm from Nebraska...

I do have to say, for a lot of those convenience-canned products, they have gone through taste panels and marketing fruffery... and they passed.

So, while they may not be the best, the people have spoken, and they're good enough. Sad as that may be.

I think I'm going to have some Kraft Cheesy Mac to go with my braised heart goulash just to celebrate both sides. To drink: Bud Light and a QmP Riesling.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Just what is it that many of us find so offensive about some of these foods? I'd be really interested in the social history of, say, the Jello salad, or the green bean casserole. How did these get into the culture, since we now agree they (mostly) taste awful.

While it does not answer all questions, I strongly recommend that eGullet members pick up Something from the Oven. Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America by Laura Shapiro if they are not already familiar with the book.

It's available in paperback, published by Penguin.

Quote from blurb on back:

"In a captivating blend of culinary history and popular culture, award-winning author Laura Shapiro shows us what happened when the food industry elbowed its way into the kitchen after World War II, brandishing canned hamburgers, frozen baked beans and instant piecrusts. Big business waged an all-out campaign to win the allegiance of American housewives, but most women were suspicious of the new foods--and the make-believe cooking they entailed."

These two sentences evoke many, many of the threads, issues and names, such Sandra Lee, that appear on this Web site.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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How did these get into the culture, since we now agree they (mostly) taste awful.

Speak for yourself, oh denizen of the land of bad dental work, bad footballer kebabs and the mushy pea. They may very well be bad for you, but I don't think we all agree they taste awful. Green Bean Casserole is a Thanksgiving staple. If it tasted awful I don't think that many of us Americans would have such a fondness for it.

I beleive Rachel and I tried an experiment a few years back in trying to make Green Bean Casserole with fresh green beens, fresh dairy products, fresh mushrooms, fresh deep fried onions, fresh pearl onions and everyone in our familiy universally rejected it. It tasted WRONG. Does Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup have about eight zillion grams of sodium per serving? Sure. Are Durkee Onions dangerous enough to be classified as a WMD? Definitely. But taste awful? No.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Just what is it that many of us find so offensive about some of these foods? I'd be really interested in the social history of, say, the Jello salad, or the green bean casserole. How did these get into the culture, since we now agree they (mostly) taste awful.

While it does not answer all questions, I strongly recommend that eGullet members pick up Something from the Oven. Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America by Laura Shapiro if they are not already familiar with the book.

It's available in paperback, published by Penguin.

I was just about to recommend that book, so instead I will second pontormo's suggestion. Very enjoyable read.

Last week my grandmother asked me if I ever make her green jello salad with cottage cheese and pineapple that my mother was always so fond of. Oddly enough, most of the stuff my grandmother made did not involve convenience products. I could never figure out why this one stood out as my mom's favorite. I can't say it tastes bad, just kind of weird, plus I really don't like jello.

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I concur with jsolomon about the availability of fresh foods in the midwest at least. When I was growing up, fresh vegetables were available, but were something of a rare treat for us. Mostly, we'd have some sort of hamburger-based main, canned veg, rice or other 'starch', canned fruit at meals. Maybe once a week there'd be salad with iceberg lettuce and those hard pink tomatoes with some of that good old Catalina dressing. (Funny how I miss that. Kraft French dressing in Australia tries harder to actually be French, instead of just red.) I guess our reliance on canned stuff was due to limited means, and there really wasn't a lot available in winter even at high prices, particularly in a town of one thousand souls.

Eating this way isn't really as dreadful or horrifying as some (possibly overdramatizing) folks on the forum might think. Making things from scratch or knowing where your food comes from doesn't automatically make you a better person than someone who doesn't. Despite not having school lunches prepared with organic vegetables or a dazzling array of fresh, multiethnic dinners at home, me and the majority of my classmates grew up to be pretty healthy. And a lot of people do eat this way, not only in America. (Come over to my house and we'll have creamed corn from a tin on toast for tea.)

Regarding green-bean casserole, the last time I made it for a large group, over half of it got devoured by an English friend. I was wondering if it made him nostalgic for stodgy school dinners. (I made one for Thanksgiving last week, but it came out a bit runny -- I think Australian Campbell's is less stodgy and more mushroomy, which would *normally* be desirable.)

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How did these get into the culture, since we now agree they (mostly) taste awful.

... Are Durkee Onions dangerous enough to be classified as a WMD? Definitely. But taste awful? No.

WMD? Careful, or someone will accuse you of getting political...

"All humans are out of their f*cking minds -- every single one of them."

-- Albert Ellis

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During World War 2 (and way before) engineering geniuses came up with ways to preserve food by freezing, canning, drying. After the war, when USA went through a time of affluence coupled with the advent of television/commercials, the products were marketed as being convenient. And they were. There is no question it is easier to heat a can of green beans than cook them from scratch. The commercials, which were a new phenomenon, were able to convince the majority of housewives. So our generation got raised thinking Campbell's Cream of Mushroom tasted good.

Luckily, people like Alice Waters showed up to direct us back to the earth.

But to get to my point...one of my best friends was a Chef at the Texas Governor's mansion. She worked for Ann Richards and then worked for George Bush. She chose not to go to Washington but when he is in Crawford he asks for her and she goes. And I assure you that she doesn't use Campbell's soups in her cooking.

The book is political propaganda. :smile:

Lobster.

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Eating this way isn't really as dreadful or horrifying as some (possibly overdramatizing) folks on the forum might think. Making things from scratch or knowing where your food comes from doesn't automatically make you a better person than someone who doesn't.

Very true. I think that part of the reason this cookbook creates such a discussion is because the Bush family has always had money. We tend to expect such people to be curious and adventurous, to travel and experience new things, and perhaps to develop sophisticated tastes. If the Clinton family chef wrote this cookbook, I doubt anyone would blink an eye at the recipes that begin with condensed soup and mayonnaise. But I guess even the very rich are not exempt from finding comfort in comfort foods.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I think that part of the reason this cookbook creates such a discussion is because the Bush family has always had money. We tend to expect such people to be curious and adventurous, to travel and experience new things, and perhaps to develop sophisticated tastes. If the Clinton family chef wrote this cookbook, I doubt anyone would blink an eye at the recipes that begin with condensed soup and mayonnaise. But I guess even the very rich are not exempt from finding comfort in comfort foods.

I wonder if a politician on either side of the fence could get away with publishing a cookbook that involved french food or some "high brow" equivalent. Kerry got so much flack last year when he asked for swiss on his Philly cheesesteak. Food is such a class issue in the US, I wonder if it is as much the case in other countries.

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During World War 2 (and way before) engineering geniuses came up with ways to preserve food by freezing, canning, drying.  After the war, when USA went through a time of affluence coupled with the advent of television/commercials, the products were marketed as being convenient. And they were.  There is no question it is easier to heat a can of green beans than cook them from scratch.

Yes. Especially in the dead of winter when, unless you "put up" your own fresh vegetables (i.e. 'canned' them yourself), you didn't get any.

Say what you want about these convenience foods, although it is true that we now have many more (and better) choices, it was a happy day for many folks when they began to arrive on the market.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thanks a lot, Grandma Pierce's savory jello mold salad thingy, dressed with seafood, has sent me cowering under the bed with the ferrets and a bottle of gin again. I left Kansas to get AWAY from crap like that!

K

Ahhh. Get yourself and the gin out from under the bed and make Nigella Lawson's Gin & Tonic Jelly (in the Domestic Goddess book). The gin is added after any heating of ingredients so the alcohol is fully potent. Refreshing!

Have the ferrets ever managed to get into the gin?

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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One question, Jason: What's so bad about Chicken Tikka Masala? When made well, it can be quite nice. But jello? Yuck. :raz::laugh:

As they say, chacun 'a son gout.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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One question, Jason: What's so bad about Chicken Tikka Masala? When made well, it can be quite nice. But jello? Yuck. :raz:  :laugh:

As they say, chacun 'a son gout.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with it when it's made well. But its a bastardization of real, authentic Indian food, and theres plenty of places in the UK that make it badly and its become somewhat of a symbolic dish for Britain's trashy equivalent to some of our more "regrettable" dishes and Middle America mediocrity people are lamenting above. Trashy food isn't unique to the US, not by a long shot.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Actually Chicken Tikka and other Tandoor cooked foods are some of the more honest and authentic imports, given that most Curries are anglo-indian inventions, just as Chop Suey and Vichysoisse are of US origin.

Yes the UK has a down-market convenience food culture, especial for children's foods, such as the "turkey twizzlers" that JO campaigns against, often driven by big food company advertising. Until quite recently, and certainly while I was growing up Olive Oil, for example was virtually unknown, or obtained only for medical use. Elizabeth David (of blessed memory) was one of the ground breakers, as was increased foreign travel. Now there are very few foods not available year round, and of reasonable quality, from the nearest supermarket. Maybe not truffles, but certainly truffle oil, and not just one but many varieties of Olive oil,

However I think the point about the scarcity of fresh vegetables in winter the frozen north is a good one. On those grounds Canada should also have a tinned food culture, but doesn't seem to, at least not to the same extent. It also doesn't explain the jello ring...

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It's often claimed that Chop Suey is of American origin, but I'm unconvinced. Some of the folks who frequent the China forum are of the opinion that that's just a "use up the leftover scraps" home-cooking dish from Toisan (or was it Guangdong generally?).

Vichyssoise is of US origin? Wow, now that one's a real surprise! Tell me more.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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So, he's responsible only for the innovation of chilling the soup. Can I serve a chilled chicken soup and claim that I invented something?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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An interesting read, I wish I could see the entire book, without the Independent's overlay.

Some of the food reminds me of pre-1980's Australia Anglo-food. Things like "Apricot chicken" (can of apricot nectar, pack of dried Cambells french onion soup and pasta).

As a kid I loved this dish and even though it was from tins and packets, the one my grandmother Pickles made tasted better then anybody else's. I haven't eaten it for ~20 years and I wonder if I would like it now, but as part of a family cookbook I would be happy to put it in, right next to the extrodinary, authentic, made from scratch Croatian food of my grandmother Balic and my mother's "Jelly slice" (although not her tuna with cheese and Campbells mushroom soup casserole, topped with cornflakes - shudder). That's what family cookbooks are about surely?

I wonder in 50 years time if various decendents of mine will make comments like "Christ, would you look at this, sumac in everything and recipes that used real animals, not vat-meat" when they look at my recipes?

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Eating this way isn't really as dreadful or horrifying as some (possibly overdramatizing) folks on the forum might think. Making things from scratch or knowing where your food comes from doesn't automatically make you a better person than someone who doesn't.

True. But everyone likes to feel that they are better than others, at least once in a great while. And this is just another way for people to think they are better than GWB.

Very true. I think that part of the reason this cookbook creates such a discussion is because the Bush family has always had money. We tend to expect such people to be curious and adventurous, to travel and experience new things, and perhaps to develop sophisticated tastes.

As far as I know, their money goes back but a few generations--hardly old money in my book (not that that really makes a difference in this context). And George W., himself, had never even been abroad prior to becoming president.

If the Clinton family chef wrote this cookbook, I doubt anyone would blink an eye at the recipes that begin with condensed soup and mayonnaise. But I guess even the very rich are not exempt from finding comfort in comfort foods.

Oh so true. My parents both lived very privileged lives when they were young (though not as adults), and they both loved/love pork rinds. And scrapple. :biggrin:

Edited to add: They liked Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash, too!

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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It's often claimed that Chop Suey is of American origin, but I'm unconvinced. Some of the folks who frequent the China forum are of the opinion that that's just a "use up the leftover scraps" home-cooking dish from Toisan (or was it Guangdong generally?).

Pan, the movement of chop suey from home use of leftovers to 'established dish' is what is American about it. There has actually been quite a lot written about this in academic literature. Unfortunately, all my reading is quite long ago, but the gist is as follows:

My Mandarin is far better than my Cantonese, but I believe that the word is Cantones and not Toisanese. Nonetheless, the characters for chop suey are the same regardless of which language you are speaking. In Mandarin they are 'zasui', and the characters make it quite clear that it's referring to 'odds and ends'.

The appearance of chop suey in America predates the Chinese restaurant scene, and was first documented in the case of feeding the thousands of Chinese labourers who worked on railroad construction, particularly the Union Pacific Railroad. The vaguely Chinese food dished up to them was allegedly termed chop suey by those labourers as a disparaging term.

Afer the completion of railroad construction and the hounding of Chinese labourers out of many regions of the US into small areas designated as 'Chinatowns' in the late 1800s, not many career paths were open to the Chinese. A certain number of former labourers opened restaurants.

It could be that 'chop suey' ended up on the menu due to it being considered somewhat Americanized and therefore more likely to be ordered by American clients who were searching for exotica and thrills (and believe me, that is how a trip to a restaurant in Chinatown was viewed and presented for many decades) but were still unlikely to order anything that differed too greatly from what their palates were used to. Given the long-term success and spread of chop suey, one might say that this summing up of clientele desires was pretty much on the button.

Alternatively, very few of those who opened restaurants had actual experience or skill in cooking. The term chop suey might have stayed around as a derogatory term used by the Chinese community to refer to food that still wasn't particularly good...

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Thanks a lot, Grandma Pierce's savory jello mold salad thingy, dressed with seafood, has sent me cowering under the bed with the ferrets and a bottle of gin again. I left Kansas to get AWAY from crap like that!

K

Ahhh. Get yourself and the gin out from under the bed and make Nigella Lawson's Gin & Tonic Jelly (in the Domestic Goddess book). The gin is added after any heating of ingredients so the alcohol is fully potent. Refreshing!

Have the ferrets ever managed to get into the gin?

Ok, see, that sounds really good, but there is NO mayonnaise and NO FISH involved!

Ferrets love gin...it makes them tip over. (YES, that's a joke. Ferrets love raw chicken and ice water. Gin, not so much)

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Last week my grandmother asked me if I ever make her green jello salad with cottage cheese and pineapple that my mother was always so fond of. Oddly enough, most of the stuff my grandmother made did not involve convenience products. I could never figure out why this one stood out as my mom's favorite. I can't say it tastes bad, just kind of weird, plus I really don't like jello.

hey that's the green stuff i was exposed to for the first time this past Thanksgiving. I loved it!

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What I found most perplexing about the article is why you would get a chef to prepare things from convenience foods for you - I can sort of understand cooking it for yourself if that's all you have available or you aren't a confident cook, but paying someone to do it for you?

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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