Monthly Archive for June, 2012

MSG is Tuesday! And It’s All About Jell-O!

Jell-o Poke Cake!

And agar agar. And isinglass. And molecular gastronomy. And Peter Cooper.  And I’m making Poke Cake!

Full details below.  And if you don’t live in New York City, look out for our podcast of the event in July.

Masters of Social Gastronomy: Gelatin!
Tuesday, June 26th, 7pm
Public Assembly, 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg
FREE! Free samples! Drink Specials! RSVP HERE


Masters of Social Gastronomy (MSG) is a monthly lecture series all about the history and science behind some of your favorite, or not so favorite, foods. This month: gelatinous edibles of all sorts.

Sarah will discuss the origins of gelatinous desserts, starting long ago when jiggly delights were made with drippings from beef stew or extracts from the swimbladders of sturgeon. Then we’ll take on that modern wonder: Jell-O, exploring the greatest atrocities and wildest successes of the 20th century Jell-O mold, while figuring our why recipes for meat in lime Jell-O exist. From 19th-century “Punch Jelly,” to 20th-century “Jell-O Sea Dream with Shrimps” you will see gelatin both beautiful and horrible.

Meanwhile, Soma will untangle the science of gelatin and its kin, introducing a few lesser-known relatives along the way. How’d we get the wiggle in those jigglers? Find out where killer bacteria and Jell-O meet on the other side, and dive into the amazing world of edible dishware. Stretch the boundaries of reality through an introduction to counterfeit Chinese eggs and the fancy-pants world of molecular gastronomy.

As if that’s not enough, we’ll be joined by Michelle Zatta and Nadia Siddiqui, co-directors of the Jell-O Mold Design Competition, who will present the good, the bad, and the ugly of gelatin design, including tips on how to create a successful Jell-O mold.

RSVP HERE so we know how many free samples to bring!

Menus: Fannie Farmer’s Full Course Dinner

One of the most emblematic cookbooks in American history is Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.  Called “The Mother of Level Measurements,” Farmer is both credited with bringing standardization to American recipes but, as a result, destroying the soul of American cuisine.

Her cookbooks were promoted as practical and economical: a kitchen guidebook for the everyday women.  But it also included simplified recipes for high-end dishes that allowed any housewife to produce them in her own kitchen.

Interestingly, in the back of the book, she includes a menu for a “Full Course Dinner”: twelve courses designed for the most upscale dinner party.   This menu is republished below.  It would be a hellavu party.

First Course

Little Neck Clams or Bluepoints with brown bread sandwiches. Sometimes canapes are used in place of either. For a gentleman’s dinner, canape’s accompanied with Sherry wine are frequently served before guests enter the dining room.

Second Course

Clear soup with bread sticks, small rolls or crisp crackers. Where two soups are served, one may be a cream soup. Cream soups are served with croutons. Radishes, celery or olives are passed after the soup. Salted almonds may be passed between any of the courses.

Third Course

Bouchees or rissoles. The filling to be of light meat.

Fourth Course

Fish baked, boiled or fried. Cole slaw dressed cucumbers or tomatoes accompany this course; with fried fish potatoes are often served.

Fifth Course

Roast saddle of venison or mutton, spring lamb, or fillet of beef potatoes and one other vegetable.

Sixth Course

Entree made of light meat or fish.

Seventh Course

A vegetable. Mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus or artichokes are served.

Eighth Course

Punch or cheese course. Punch when served always precedes the game course.

Ninth Course

Game with vegetable salad, usually lettuce or celery; or cheese sticks may be served with the salad and game omitted.

Tenth Course

Dessert, usually cold.

Eleventh Course

Frozen dessert and fancy cakes. Bonbons are passed after this course.

Twelfth Course

Cracker, cheese and cafe noir. Cafe noir is frequently served in the drawing and smoking rooms after the dinner.  After serving cafe noir in drawing room, pass pony of brandy for men, sweet liquenr (Chartrense, Benedictine ,or Parfait d Amour) for women, then Creme de Menthe for all.

The Masters of Social Gastronomy Podcast: RAW MILK!

My monthly lecture series with Jonathan Soma of the Brooklyn Brainery, Masters of Social Gastronomy, has begun podcasting here!  Monthly updates will feature recordings of our live events (in case you miss them, or don’t live in the NYC area) as well as exclusive online content.

This month, we’re presenting a web-only podcast on the science, history, and controversy surrounding the consumption on unpasteurized (raw) milk.

It’s 18 minutes of facts and laughs. Listen above, or download it here.

For further reading, here are some relevant links:

The Official Masters of Social Gastronomy Tumblr, for related articles and future events:

“The Swill is Gone” – op-ed in New York Times about the history of bad milk in New York.

“The Great Milk Wars” on Brooklyn Brownstowner, has some images of swill milk cows.

“Taste Test: Local New York Milk” on Serious Eats.

A Raw Milk Taste-Test” follow-up to “Raw Deal,” The New Yorker’s article on raw milk.   New Yorker Culture Desk blog.

And I want to thank the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for providing much of what I know about the history of milk in New York City.  The Museum gives a tour called Irish Outsiders which focuses on sanitary conditions, health and adulterated milk supplies in mid-19th century New York.


Thoughts on the raw milk debate?  Please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

And for more MSG podcasts, check out the recording of our live lecture on the history and science of Candy here!