Monday, April 28, 2014

Unrefined and of Low Social Category

Old cookbooks are the best. Not only do they tell you how to make head cheese in a completely non-hipster manner, they also provide useful socio-cultural commentary such as the following:

"El color amarillo es tenido por muchas personas como un elemento culinario un tanto vulgar; quizá por el hecho de que nuestras gentes de baja categoría social han abusado siempre de él en sus caldos y estofados. Pero su uso discreto es indispensable, especialmente en cremas, salsas y sopas, para hacerlas más apetitosas."

"Turmeric is considered by many to be a slightly vulgar culinary element, perhaps due to the fact that many of our people of low social category have always abused its use in their broths and stews. But its discreet use is indispensable, especially in soup and sauces, to make them more appetizing. "



"Los cominos: este aliño es por lo general de mal gusto y poco refinado, pero hay ciertos platos típicos en los cuales no es solamente admisible, sino necesario. El mondongo, los tamales, las morcillas, los chorizos, las empanadas comunes, y aun el caldo con pollo hecho al estilo primitivo, parece que quedan incompletos si no se les pone una pinzada de camino. En todo caso, si se usan, deber ser con gran discreción."

"Cumin: the use of this seasoning is generally in bad taste and unrefined, but there are certain classic dishes where its use is not only admissible but indeed necessary. Tripe soup, tamales, blood sausage, empanadas and even chicken soup done primitive-style seem to turn out incomplete unless a pinch of cumin is added. In any case, if you use cumin, you must use it with great discretion."

It's interesting that what's considered traditional and what's considered refined seem to be very much in conflict according to this lady. I for one adore cumin. On the other hand, she does appear to have a far more generous spirit than many of her generation, as evidenced by the following, rather sad comment:

"Pocas señoras tienen la galantería de ofrecer a sus amigas la receta de un plato, que a juzgar por los elogios que les merece, desean aprender a fabricar...Pero hay todavía algo peor. Y es que algunas, cuando se resuelven a ofrecerla, lo hacen con medidas inexactas, cometiendo con esto una verdadera estafa. Por qué nos atraerá tanto la exclusividad, aun en tan pequeños detalles?"

"Few women possess the gallantry to offer their friends the recipe for a dish that they, judging from the glowing praise offered, would like to learn to make...But there is something even worse. And that is that some, when offering up the recipe, give it with imprecise measurements, wishing to defraud their friends. Why are we so attracted to exclusivity, even in minor things?"



Well said, Señora Navarro, well said. Now please excuse me while I go off to degollar (cut the head off) a one-year-old piglet to make lechon relleno.

La cartilla del hogar, Sofia Ospina de Navarro. Colombia. 1972.

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