A discreet pickle

I wrote the first part of this last October when I came across ‘snappy chutney in a gardening book my mum had given my dad six months after they were married. This is what I wrote:

I must say when describing chutneys, I have never ever come remotely close to calling one ‘snappy’, however this was how Richard Sudell describes them in his Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures – my copy was published in 1947, but I think it was first published about ten years before that.

There are no other recipes in the book, and although there is every aspect of gardening and domestic food production covered, so pickling and preserving is part of his focus on not wasting anything. Apart from certain weeds which need to be scrubbed up and burnt, everything else has various uses apart from the obvious – even if it’s only to make compost. The book is very economically written, his prose tight and to the point – no wasted words in the same way there is no wasted land and no wasted produce. So it is quite something that he takes a whole page on ‘Pickles and Chutneys‘ ; for his monthly calendar of tasks in the garden, each month is only allotted two pages. Since the edition I have was obviously updated during the war when there was acute rationing – which actually lasted well after the war, Richard Sudell says this ‘some forms of chutney such as apple and tomato will demand too much sugar to make it practicable just now,’ but he does give a recipe for an alternative.

Although pickles and chutneys can hardly be regarded as an important means of food preservation, there is no doubt that they are a friendly economy if used sparingly and with discretion…

A discreet pickle? OK…

…and will add a fillip to remnants of pie, tongue, or to the cold joint. There is something snappy about a good flavoured chutney or pickle, but it is up to the housewife to select ingredients carefully.

I know ‘snappy’ has a meaning of being smart, or good, and also can refer to crispness in biscuits… but snappy chutney? I’ve looked it up and actually found two recipes for snappy chutneys, a sweet and snappy zucchini relish, and a snappy apple chutney described as ‘a versatile, tangy chutney, perfectly at home on a cheese platter, or with cold meats, and in sandwiches, and also a great accompaniment for Indian curries.’  I particularly like a recipe for  snappy tamarind chutney:

I came across an intriguing mention of snappy chutney in  an article from Ebony magazine about what to serve as snacks and refreshments for a card party. It’s intended that ‘the wife’ makes the refreshments while the husband and ‘his gang’ play poker. There’s Zip Dip which is a mixture of cottage cheese, carrots, green pepper rings and spices served with chips (crisps) or raw vegetables, or poured over cooked vegetables (not sure how the sauce is made… is it cooked? Are the carrots chopped?) Then there are roast beef sandwiches, and then a curious sounding sandwich of cabbage and ham – is the cabbage cooked? Is it like a coleslaw? These sandwiches are the ones which have the snappy chutney – ‘a pleaser that takes two hands to hold’. There’s also a four bean salad (green beans, wax beans, kidney beans and chickpeas) garnished  with pimiento, green pepper and onion, and chocolate and vanilla cheesecake. After all that, as a palate cleanser I guess, there is a fresh fruit salad called ambrosia, made with a variety of fruit in a lemonade and ginger ale…Sounds like a feast!

Hearty snacks for card players
– what to serve on a full house
Zip dip served with fresh raw vegetable, chips (crisps) and crackers
roast beef rousers
ham, cabbage and snappy pickle sandwiches
full house salad
chocolate and vanilla cheesecake

The article ends by saying that the housewife can repeat this menu for when she has her friends round to play bridge… it sounds a world away from our socialising!

So, her snappy chutney mix:

  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup chopped chutney
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt

…and toss with 3 cups of shredded cabbage.

Spread your chutney on 6 slices of buttered, enriched, rye bread with  plenty of sliced of ham, and top with a slice of cheddar cheese, put another slice of buttered bread on top, then toast the sandwiches.

I’m not sure I would like that combination in a toasted sandwich… would I like it in an untoasted sandwich… not sure on that either!

My featured image is of my home-made piccalilli… which reminds me, I must make some more!


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