365 Foreign Dishes: Chinese Chicken
We recently found this gem of a book, 365 Foreign Dishes: A Foreign Dish for every day in the year. It was published in 1908 in the USA by George W. Jacobs and Company, and it’s totally fascinating, not to mention hilarious. The author makes all sorts of assumptions about how knowledgeable his readers are and what kind of equipment they have. I thought it would be fun to share some of these recipes here so that you, too, could know what life was like in 1908.
The recipe for January 5: Chinese Chicken
“Cut a fat chicken into pieces at the joints; season with all kinds of condiments; then put in a deep saucepan. Add some chopped ham, a few sliced bamboo sprouts, 1 chopped onion and a handful of walnuts. Cover with hot water and let stew slowly until tender. Add some Chinese sauce and parsley. Serve with shredded pineapple.”
Fascinating assumptions the author makes:
- That seasoning with unspecified “all kinds of condiments” will actually turn out well
- That I can get bamboo sprouts
- That I know what “Chinese sauce” means
- That shredding a pineapple will be easy
The more I read this book, the more I feel like an idiot. These days, we need tedious recipes that detail every single step and every single ingredient. Back in 1908, the author had confidence that when he wrote a recipe like this his readers would get good results. Amazing!