Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

The Monday Mag – Sept 12, 2016

In This Edition Of Our Somewhat Weekly Magazine:

  • Time Capsule: Food Trends of The 30’s
  • The Varnum Food Fare

Our Favorite Quote Of The Week ~ “Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.” – Ken Kesey


Time Capsule: Food Trends of The 30’s ~ If you were born after 1970, you may be more familiar with the great financial crash of 2008 than with the great depression of 1929. But you have certainly heard the name Al Capone, even if only in movies where, it turns out, he is usually depicted rather accurately.

The 1930’s were not exactly a time of famine, as we might imagine, but rather a time of frugality, to the point of consuming “lesser foods.” For instance, even people who still had some means in spite of hard financial times turned to cheaper cuts of meat, because that’s what was available. This, too, is the time of the rise of soup kitchen. Incidentally, the first soup kitchen was set up in Chicago, by aforementioned Al Capone himself.

The decade closed on a high note in New York, with the 1939 World Fair, which featured food sampling from numerous international restaurants. The most noteworthy of these set up headquarters in New York for over 20 years following the Fair. Older New Yorkers still remember Le Restaurant du Pavillon de France. It featured authentic French dining room and kitchen staff and a gourmet menu unlike anything ever before experienced in America.

The Varnum Food Fare ~ Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. This gem of a story, first published in 1948, celebrates a child’s curiosity and the gift of innocence. What do you think would happen if a mother bear and a human mother both set out blueberry picking, child in tow, on the same fine summer day, in the same blueberry patch?

Such innocence cannot possibly lead to tragedy. Nature has a sense of humor after all, and a mother’s wisdom and candor is universal. The story is set in another era, when many families relied on canning to survive the winter, and when an afternoon under the sun picking blueberries was a gift of peace and welcome labor for post-WWII adults and simple bliss for children. “Little Sal picked three blueberries and dropped them in her little tin pail… kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!”

The illustrations are as charming as the day itself. This tale is timeless. It is meant for children, yet fitting to remind us grown-ups of the importance of carefree moments and communion with nature… and with the simple pleasures of the table. Look it up at The Varnum Memorial Library, or at your own local library.


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