[Sca-cooks] Meanderings on family histories and foods
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun May 20 07:00:13 PDT 2007
On May 20, 2007, at 4:19 AM, Huette von Ahrens wrote:
> Well, my mother, whose parents were German immigrants and good
> Lutherans to boot, would
> make creamed eggs on toast after Easter using up all the hard
> boiled Easter eggs she had
> made for us kids. Mom never used paprika on this dish, but it did
> have black pepper in it,
> so that it wasn't just a bland egg/cream sauce dish.
You know, it's kind of funny: there are people who'd just assume
adding pepper, and/or even paprika (which is, of course, a capsicum
"pepper") wouldn't even come close to de-blandifying cream sauce, and
I'm more like, "cream sauce is bland??? you must be doing something
wrong..." As I get older (yeah, like I'm 6000 in this bunch) I find
myself becoming more interested in essential flavors. More
simplicity, more focus, more power. But I remember my first exposure
to some northern German cookery, from actual Germans who had
immigrated post WWII, and finding it un-be-_LIEV_-ab-ly bland. Yes,
this pea soup is spicy. It has ham in it. ;-) That was ~ 25 years
ago, and today I might even entertain the concept as a valid basis
for argument, and not merely meaningless sounds that might have some
accidental resemblance to words in English.
But thinking back, we often added black pepper to foods at the table
(salt, not so much, because we were taught it was considered kind of
an insult to the cook, and because my mom -- also generally the cook
-- would rake us over the coals and quote obscure health statistics
for six hours). Paprika wasn't added at the table, but it might show
up as a garnish on the comparatively few baked-casserole-type dishes
we were served.
> I can still remember the taste of
> this with the soft and creamy eggs on a toasted and buttered piece
> of white bread. Sigh.
> My mother and grandmother would use hard-boiled eggs in their
> potato salad, but they didn't
> do a creamed egg and potato hot dish.
When we say "hot dish", is this a casserole, or just a dish that was
hot? We had our potatoes on the side...
> For the potato salad, they would make a
> mayonnaise/cream/mustard/sweet pickle relish emulsion to bind the
> potatoes and eggs together.
> And on hot summer days, they would also add cubed ham and cubed
> cheese to make a cool, one
> dish meal.
Yeah, that sounds right. My Aunt Ruth was the official potato-salad
guru of the family, and the unfortunate reality was that while she
lived, it was generally considered unnecessary for anyone else to
know how to make good German potato salad. Of course, she passed away
with no proper passing of the torch, so I've had to reconstruct some
missing data. [I live in fear that when I am gone, no one in my
family will be able to make good mashed potatoes.] I'm happy to
report that after years of expensive culinary school and even more
years of brutally ruthless interrogation of little old ladies in
places like Wilkes-Barre, PA, I can honestly say my potato salad
isn't too bad, and may some day be almost right. Which reminds me, I
need some more cellophane and a new bucket...
My aunt was of the "sour cream and mayo" school; most of my contacts
do the "add-vinegar-while-potatoes-are-still-hot" thing, then mayo,
mayo and sour cream, or, I suppose, mayo-and-sweet-cream, on the
rationale that the added vinegar would probably make them largely
indistinguishable anyway. Occasionally egg would be added, but not
ham. I'm wondering if maybe this was a transplanted regional
tradition, and perhaps the natural inclination would be to add
herring, thus terrifying the children, and consequently, no protein
garnish other than egg. But that's pure speculation on my part...
I've suddenly been struck, as if by a sort of culinary thunderbolt,
that we never even thought of a "boiled dressing" in this context,
and that I have no idea if this concept is known anywhere in Europe.
It actually would make a lot of sense in, for example, food-rationed
More information about the Sca-cooks