Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase

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Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase

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Category: Cookery
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A selection of late 19th century American recipes, collated by a travelling physician and salesman Dr A W Chase. Whilst it's of more interest as a historical snapshot than for its recipes, it's still a fascinating read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0241950999

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Think of a slim, American Mrs Beeton (her cookbook, not her) and you've got a rough idea of the premise of Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding. It includes recipes for such treats as Minnesota corn bread, popcorn pudding, pumpkin pie and pork cake. The recipes aren't the whole picture, though. Dr Alvin Wood Chase was a travelling salesman as well as an author, so being blessed with the gift of the gab, he peppers his recipes with anecdotes and comments to amuse and entertain the reader.

Reading Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding brings up so many memories of reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the whole Little House series. Some of the comments might well have been too playful for Ma - and she probably had her own recipes for everything anyway - but the broad spirit of daily baking of homely recipes is there in spades. You could follow the recipes if you so desired; there's little that an interested cook couldn't put their hands on or easily adapt. However, whilst some did tempt me, it's the overall atmosphere that is Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding's great strength.

Read with modern eyes, there's an extra layer of amusement and interest. He comments on Mrs Carrie Chase's recipe for wheat and Indian bread, steamed:

Perfectly reliable, for I have eaten it of her own make, and I shall never forget the 'jolly time' while eating it the first time.

Originally, just a pleasant remembrance of an enjoyable evening, but 130 years later and I sniggered childishly at the quotes around jolly time implying extra.

Other comments are... well, you forget how different times were then:

I have given it word for word as dictated by Mrs Polk (colored), who was highly gratified because...

O... K...

But mostly, it's just food, food and more food. Pies and cakes and fritters and biscuits. You can feel your arteries hardening as you read about lard and dripping, and feel your mouth watering at the prospect of strawberry shortcake and gingerbread. It's not all quite as appealing as all that, though. I shall leave you with the opening to the recipe for minced pies, no. 1:

Boil a fresh beef's tongue... remove the skin and roots (any remains of wind-pipe, blood vessels etc)...

Yummy!

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

We're loving the Great Food series from Penguin and recommend you also check out Great Food: A Taste of the Sun by Elizabeth David. For more nostalgia, take a look at Canteen: Great British Food by Cass Titcombe, Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake.

Buy Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Great Food: Buffalo Cake and Indian Pudding by Dr A W Chase at Amazon.com.

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