"i can’t remember anything you’ve ever said,
you don’t hold a candle to the movies in my head…”
Swedish Pancakes - Gourmet: April 1948
annanordh What’s been so exciting and interesting about doing this project is to examine food, recipes and so called “traditional dishes” within the historical context they were printed. I myself am also of swedish heritage, so i was particularly interested in preparing this dish (as instructed by the editors & recipe writer) faithfully and without augmentation (that means no cheating and using a blender or some such device, as it would not have existed in 1948). That being said, try to imagine in 1948, the idea of introducing “Swedish Pancakes” to an American audience, via an upscale food magazine. You’d probably have to make some tweaks to accommodate american cookware, stove and kitchen styles, as well as available ingredients. Furthermore, in 1948, although rationing had ended in the US officially, things like cream, and strawberry jam were likely not easy to come by, and would therefore be substituted, as they would just literally not be available. (a very different situation in Sweden i’m sure, which remained neutral throughout WWII). Things like Butter (slightly more shelf-stable than cream) and Maple Syrup (plentiful in the United States throughout the war and afterwards) were likely much more accessible than things like jam or cream. Even things like cast iron were rationed and controlled during WWII, and hard to come by even in the years after the war. It’s Entirely possible that the thickness you’re responding to in the pancakes is because the recipe writer is likely testing this dish on something like aluminum or tin. it would probably be difficult to get an “authentic” thickness of the pancake without a good cast iron skillet.
To consider the entire historical context in which the recipe was created, including political situations, socio-economic aspects, and gender roles is what makes working with vintage recipes so fascinating. The goal of the writer in this case may have been to recreate a “memory” of a dish eaten during a visit to Sweden, or a “version” of a recipe he/she felt would have comprised of “findable” ingredients in the United States at that time. Also, in 1948, there was no global internet database of information to fact check the authenticity of recipes. The editors and writers likely did their best to create a good version of this dish, and did their fact checking either at the library, or with a phone call to the Swedish Embassy. The writer also may have been lucky enough to interview a swedish person, or swedish cook and would again, not have the luxury of using google translator or email conversations. Likely if the writer did interview people in their research, this was done orally and/or with hand-written notes. All of which are open to interpretation and error.
To consider all of these influences when simply preparing pancakes is precisely why i’ve chosen to pursue this project (which will take about 15 years to complete start to finish). The things i can learn and understand about who we were and what we ate, and why, have proved very useful to me in my cooking and present life in general. It’s not only made me a better cook, but a far more educated person. Lastly, in regards to tone, i don’t think you sound rude, but you do sound misinformed. Next time, try to consider the time and space around things that were created almost 70 years ago. The world was a very different place than the one we enjoy now.
Friends, Countrymen, and food obsessives everywhere! I’d like to announce how pleased and proud i am of my colleagues and their new books, which will all be debuting in MAY! Please find the time to PRE-ORDER and PURCHASE copies of these fantastic cookbooks by the talented BEN MIMS, the venerable GREG SEIDER and superstar IVY STARK. Not only are they respected friends, but they also contributed to my book THE WAY WE ATE!
Oh, and i also shot all the photographs for these books, which makes me almost as proud of myself as i am of them….
there’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore…
This pretty much sums up EXACTLY what dating me is like…
HOLLYWOOD WIVES / ALL DAY / EVERY DAY…
Remember going to see Fisherspooner in 2000, and there was no cellphones, no digital cameras and no twitter…? le sigh…