Food Fight Club Round 2: Vegetable Curry v. Ragout of Squirrel

It’s time for match two of our March Madness Food Fight Club.

First, the reveal of last week’s smackdown: Snail Water triumphed over Pear and Tomato Chutney. Whichever recipe wins this week has a tough competitor for next Wednesday’s final match.

March Madness Food Fight Club_Round1winner

Background image: Kirkland, The modern baker, confectioner, and caterer, c1907.

This week, we pit Vegetable Curry against Ragout of Squirrel.

Vegetable Curry recipe in Blatch, 101 Practical Non-Flesh Recipes, 1917.

Vegetable Curry recipe in Blatch, 101 Practical Non-Flesh Recipes, 1917. Click to enlarge.

The innocuous-sounding vegetable curry comes from Margaret Blatch’s 101 Practical Non-flesh Recipes, a nice little vegetarian cookbook from 1917. The title might sound a bit odd to modern readers and is an interesting choice, considering the term vegetarian was well-established by the 1840s.1 A 1908 physical education article sheds some light on the terminology of the time, saying the word vegetarian “usually suggests a person who abstains not on hygienic but on religious, ethical, or theological grounds,” preferring instead “flesh-abstainer.”2 It appears “non-flesh” was less provocative than “vegetarian.”

Ragout of Squirrel recipe in Recipes for the Jewett Chafing Dish, 1896. Click to enlarge.

Ragout of Squirrel recipe in Recipes for the Jewett Chafing Dish, 1896. Click to enlarge.

Our next contestant features two items not commonly seen on today’s dinner tables: Chafing dishes and squirrels. In the 1890s, chafing dishes experienced a surge in popularity in America, and Recipes for the Jewett Chafing Dish was just one of many cookbooks published featuring recipes specifically for the dish. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel offered “chafing dish suppers” to top socialites, and stores sold table linens to match the cookware.3 Squirrel, too, was a common sight at the American dinner table due to its availability. One can track its rise and fall by looking at editions of The Joy of Cooking over time, where the numerous squirrel recipes of the 1930s gave way to recipes for chicken.4

Which recipe should face Snail Water in the final round? Vote for your favorite—be it the most appealing, least appealing, or one that just tickles your fancy more—before 5 pm EST on Monday, March 21.

References
1. Spencer C. The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism. UPNE; 1996. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=rIjZo-cvifAC&pgis=1. Accessed March 15, 2016.

2. Fisher I. The Influence of Flesh-eating on Endurance. Modern Medicine Publishing; 1908. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gW8yAQAAMAAJ&pgis=1. Accessed March 15, 2016.

3. Lovegren S, Smith AF. Chafing Dish. Oxford Companion to Am Food Drink. 2007:103. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=AoWlCmNDA3QC&pgis=1. Accessed March 10, 2016.

4. Smith H. Al rodente: Could squirrel meat come back into vogue? Grist. 2012. Available at: http://grist.org/animals/al-rodente-could-squirrel-meat-come-back-into-vogue/. Accessed March 10, 2016.

4 thoughts on “Food Fight Club Round 2: Vegetable Curry v. Ragout of Squirrel

  1. Creutzfeldt-Jakob can be transmitted via squirrel brains. (Alas, as a physician who deals with dementia, I’ve seen cases from hunters who roasted their squirrels shortly after bagging them.) Consider this when you use squirrel meat in any dish!

  2. Pingback: Food Fight Club Final: Snail Water v. Vegetable Curry | Books, Health and History

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