[Sca-cooks] OK, since we're all kids burning food, here's another one...
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Tue Aug 29 10:04:12 PDT 2006
I was just wondering if this was an isolated instance of insanity in
my family, or in the Bronx, or something...
My father, who was born in 1917 in the Bronx (the single New York
City borough that is in mainland New York State, and not on some
little or middle-sized island), and who had an entirely urban
upbringing, such as it was, used to speak of roasting mickeys as a
child (note that I can't vouch for the veracity of this; it may have
been his idea of a joke, but somehow I doubt it). This wasn't chloral
hydrate; the neighborhood wasn't _that_ tough back then --
apparently mickeys were a form of roasted potato, cooked in a
somewhat unique (AFAIK) manner, that sounds to me like something that
might have reached its peak among hobos in the '30's, but this would
have been pre-Depression.
Apparently a mickey was roasted in a tin can, probably one like those
28-ounce cans tomatoes come in (a #2? I forget...), maybe larger.
You'd punch holes in it, all over, leaving one end open, place fuel
like wood chips, bark, and paper at the bottom, a raw, whole,
unpeeled potato in the middle, and more of the same fuel on top.
You'd have string or wire run through some holes punched near the
opening end of the can, you lit the fuel, and swung the hole thing
over your head until the fuel burned out, creating through
centrifugal force and wind a miniature blast furnace of sorts. What
you ended up with, it was claimed, was an ash-covered baked potato,
burnt on the outside and somewhat raw in the middle, which you then
ate. I guess if you hurled it was your own affair, ditto if the
string broke and you hurled a Molotov potato through someone's window.
It occurs to me now that Mickey may have been some sort of reference
to the Irish and their reputed interest in the potato.
Incidentally, you could do all sorts of cool and highly dangerous
stuff in big cities, once upon a time, back when people had common
sense, took responsibility for their own screw-ups, and fun was
legal. Some of these hijinks included fire use of some (theoretically
benign) form, and apparently people used to cook over open fires on
city streets somewhat more often than they do now. There was a well-
known NY gangster and Tammany thug at the turn of the 20th century
named Chuck Connors (not the "Rifleman" star) who, even after he
became quite a wealthy man, would still enjoy a chuck steak cooked
over an open fire of scrap lumber at the side of the street, for old
times' sake, and this was said the be the source of his nickname.
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