Fried cucumbers and celery in gravy

I love old cookery books, especially prewar twentieth century collections – some of the recipes are so current, the ingredients to be found in every food shop today, and yet some are just so distant from our tastes that I don’t think they even have a place on a 1930’s themed party!

Savouries and supper dishes – a selection in my Modern Practical Cookery book published in the 1930’s, stuffed aubergine? Yes please! Grilled mushrooms and oysters? Sounds good! Lobster canapes? Certainly! Gnocchi? Various things with asparagus, chicken livers or chestnuts? Yes, they all sound good…

Then there are dishes which sound fine but not exciting, omelets of all sorts, lots of things with cheese – puddings, puffs, balls, savouries, lots of things with ham or tomatoes or eggs, and I know they are not as popular now (although I always have a few tins in the cupboard) but lots of suggestions for sardine ‘savouries and snacks’.

However, some of the ideas are just very odd (and I’m sure must have seemed so then) and some sound downright horrid!

  • banana and cheese savoury – also with capers and anchovy paste…
  • bloater savoury (a bloater is a cold smoked haddock) – with bloater and bloater paste
  • celery in gravy – no, just no – especially as the celery is cooked for fifty (yes 50) minutes and served with bacon and fried bread – as well as the gravy made from Bisto
  • fried cucumbers – you may wonder how you could fry a cucumber; the secret is to boil slices of it first along with some small whole onions for ten minutes, then scoop out the seeds, roll in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, then fry before serving on a slice of fried tomato, with the boiled onion which has been further cooked in a white sauce, and garnished with the white oniony sauce
  • curried bananas??? served with hard-boiled eggs
  • steamed eggs on kipper toast – sounds wrong for many reasons
  • parsnip pie
  • stuffed prunes – stuffed with chutney, wrapped round with bacon and served on a sort of rosti
  • sardine biscuits… I think not
  • tongue sauté – cold tongue, chopped cooked potato, minced onion, chopped tomatoes, all fried together then topped with cheese and browned under the grill – maybe it tastes better than it sounds
  • steamed turkey cream – no thanks
  • vegetable shortcakes – it sounds as if this might have been on the menu for  school dinner


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