Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Good Meal is Equal to Victory

The other day my friend and colleague Jessica Pigza was teaching her class on all things Hand Made (she'll be teaching more of those in the coming months so be sure to check it out...) and she emphasized something I should have brought up with culinary researchers long ago: pamphlet volumes.

In non-library lingo, pamphlet volumes are essentially short pamphlets that have been bound together into a book. The pamphlets range from topic to topic, and sometimes pamphlets bound together have absolutely nothing to do with one another except format, while other times they're bound by subject as well.

What makes these little guys so great is that they often cover subjects that are difficult to find in any free-standing book. Case in point: A Soldier's Simple Cooking Recipes for Cooking in the Trenches and Billets (with vocabulary of French words), published by Harrison and Sons, London and printed sometime between 1914 and 1918.

The preface reads:

Tommy Atkins has the best rations of any soldier in the world, but at the same time Tommy Atkins is the very worst cook in the world. These recipes, however, will help him in his difficulties when he needs to turn his hand to cooking.

The pamphlet provides recipes for trench cooking, including a jam roll and trench cake, and also provides a glossary of French words and pronunciations for those soldiers needing to purchase supplies.

Some examples include:

Chicken...Poulet...Poo, lay

Dining Room...Sale a manger...Sarle ah monjhay

Tongue...Langue deboeuf...Longe der berf

So if you're ever looking for wonderfully quirky cookbooks, look no further than pamphlet volumes (indicated by a p.v. after the call number).

Trench Cake

Crush 4 or 5 Army biscuits into powder.
Add enough water to make a stiff paste, mix in sugar and a tiny pinch of salt with a tablespoonful of butter if available.
Knead it well, but not too heavily.
Bake on a flat hot stone which has been heated in a fire. (If you can, use a beaten egg instead of the water; it will make the cake much more tasty and light.)


Betty Carlson said...

This is fascinating, but also somehow painfully sad when one knows what many of the soldiers actually went through in the trenches. I hope some of them had time to try to make cakes...

adele said...

I have idle fantasies of writing a thesis on food in the combat zone (inspired by one too many readings of "All Quiet on the Western Front") - these pamphlets make me think it might actually be possible.

Deborah Dowd said...

My late father-in-law, who was full of war stories(he was in WWII,Korea and an advisor in Vietnam) always told us about how the French soldiers could take c-rations and make a gourmet meal!