Tag Archives: calves feet jelly

Campbell Cuisine » Fannie’s Last Supper

Fried Brain Balls. Calves Foot Jel­ly. Mock Tur­tle Soup.

Believe it or not, this was high­fa­lutin’ fine din­ing when Hugh and Hazlett Camp­bell were enter­tain­ing guests. These recipes — includ­ing more palat­able ones like Man­darin Cake, Lob­ster a la Amer­i­cane and Roast Sad­dle of Veni­son — are part of Fan­nie’s Last Sup­per, where Chris Kim­ball of Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illus­trat­ed fame attempts to recre­ate not only Fan­nie Farmer’s over-the-top 12-course meal, but he did it using the same tech­niques and equip­ment a cook would have used back in 1896 when Fan­nie Farmer’s The Boston Cook­ing School Cook­book was released.

Although this book was writ­ten about food and cook­ing after Vir­ginia Camp­bell and her cook­book’s time, Fan­nie’s Last Sup­per is a com­pelling glimpse of the foods, prepa­ra­tion and social life of peo­ple of a cer­tain class that is par­tic­u­lar­ly applic­a­ble to the turn of the last cen­tu­ry, a deca­dent era when Hugh and Hazlett were cer­tain­ly enter­tain­ing guests at Camp­bell House.

This isn’t just a cook­book. In addi­tion to the exhaus­tive recipe test­ing that Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen is known for, Kim­ball dis­cuss­es Amer­i­can food his­to­ry and the evolv­ing avail­abil­i­ty of meats, cheeses and Euro­pean imports, Vic­to­ri­an cook­ing tech­niques and house­hold oper­a­tions, and even fas­ci­nat­ing min­u­tae, like the pros and cons of a coal- vs wood-fired stove (not to men­tion how you light and cook on the hulk­ing beast).

Two lus­cious Vic­to­ri­an jel­lies. Image cour­tesy of fannieslastsupper.com

All of this is under­pinned by the delight­ful nar­ra­tive of Kim­bal­l’s quest to find an authen­tic Vic­to­ri­an home (and kitchen!) that had not been updat­ed and/or styl­is­ti­cal­ly butchered by well-mean­ing res­i­dents, learn­ing the best way to boil a calf’s head (clean the inside of the nose, remove the eyes and brain before boil­ing, natch) and the intel­lec­tu­al process of find­ing val­ue and rel­e­vance of such a com­pli­cat­ed, expen­sive and labor-inten­sive two-year project that cul­mi­nates in, well, one dinner.

His argu­ment is com­pelling: Tools and appli­ances of con­ve­nience have saved us time, but what have we done with all this leisure we sup­pos­ed­ly have? Watch TV. Play on Face­book. Surf the inter­net. Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, we aren’t enrich­ing our minds with a new hob­by or help­ing the poor. Cook­ing, how­ev­er, is one of those dai­ly chores that occu­pies our minds and hands and cre­ates a prod­uct that puts us in touch (lit­er­al­ly) with nature through the raw mate­ri­als of our endeav­or, and the result is shared and enjoyed by those clos­est to us. Kim­bal­l’s not advo­cat­ing for us to retro­fit our homes with cast-iron stoves and prim­i­tive ice box­es, but he cer­tain­ly wants us to rel­ish and appre­ci­ate the labor of food prepa­ra­tion because it is through this sim­ple yet ful­fill­ing work that we can be tru­ly hap­py, con­tent and useful.

Stay tuned to our blog and Face­book and Twit­ter feeds. We have some real­ly big news about food/eating/general awe­some­ness at Camp­bell House that we’ll release over the next sev­er­al weeks.

In the mean­time, to learn more about Chris Kim­bal­l’s quest to make Fan­nie’s big meal, vis­it the web­site at www.fannieslastsupper.com. Bet­ter yet, pick up the book and try a recipe or two and share the culi­nary love with the peo­ple you love the most.