9 January 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

LAURA SHAPIRO

I have only made carrot-and-raisin salad once, the day it was taught to me in seventh grade, but the memory of those bright orange shreds specked with raisins and clotted with mayonnaise has been unaccountably hard to shake.  It's easy to understand why the recipe appealed to the teacher - carrots made it nutritious, raisins made it sweet, and mayonnaise made it a salad - but I can't explain why a combination I never hoped to eat again was able to lodge itself so firmly into the apparatus of my adolescence.  Perhaps those endless Wednesday-afternoon classes, known by 1958 as 'Homemaking', had a grip on us that we hardly suspected at the time, codifying as they did a grim and witless set of expectations that loomed across the future like a ten commandments for girls.  Eerily enough, this course, which purported to be about the real world, had nothing whatever to do with anything that happened in my home or that I had ever seen happen anywhere else.  Why were they claiming life was like this?  Who on earth wore pink cotton 'hostess aprons' or, worse yet, had to sew them?

Perfection Salad:  Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century




11 comments:

  1. "Home Economics", as my school called it, hadn't changed much from this even in the 1980s - though we had to sew a cushion not an apron.

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    1. Lucky me - I sewed an apron AND cross-stitched a skunk on yellow gingham which then became a cushion. It seems like yesterday....

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  2. Well that sounds completely vile. Feeling very thankful that the only thing I ever had to make in Home Ec that I didn't like was chocolate mousse (still hate it). I love carrot salad with raisins but am going to be shuddering for a while yet at the idea of making it with mayonnaise.

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    1. Claire! How can you hate chocolate mousse? Shuddering over the mayonnaise I can understand but hating heaven in a bowl....

      I remember a particular grade 8 Home Ec class when we were told not to discard our muffins in the stream like the class did the day before. Must have been pretty awful...

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  3. Home Economics! I remember being traumatized by getting a warning slip because I couldn't seem to sew in a zipper, and our ladies-lunchy tuna melts. I wonder why this class gave so many powerful memories?

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    1. How many times did you draw blood with the stitch-ripper? And then there were those pesky buttonholes....do you think our male counterparts were stressing their shop class and the band saw? Yikes!

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    2. I do remember that if they opted to take home ec instead they got to make pizza while we were making horrible ladylike things....

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  4. I remember the 40-minute lesson spent making a cup of cocoa.

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    1. That's funny, Mary. Everyone knows you just spoon out the powder from a jar and add boiling water...

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  5. Wow. That sounds...oddly unappetising. My home economic classes in the 90s were very similar.

    I'm always startled by how amazing the food tech classes are over here. My year 7s keep bringing me scones (of, admittedly, varying quality...ahem) and the year 8s just finished learning how to make their own quiche, including the crust. I still don't know how to do that and just buy the ready-made ones at M&S.

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    1. Isn't that sweet...pun not intended. More than likely once 99% of those students have their own place they will be at M&S buying crusts too but yes, that's quite impressive!

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