Miss Dine-About-Town, the Tapioca Gourmet

What looks like fish-eggs in aged mayo, yet is apparently the single most perfect ingredient for all your five-star, restaurant-quality cuisine? Well, according to this 1938 cookbook and its guide to the finer things-- "Miss Dine-About-Town"-- nothing says true class like Minute Tapioca!

Miss Dine-About-Town is quick to tell us she hasn't made any of these dishes herself-- no, she's just eaten them.

Yep, ol' D-A-T's been mooching off family, friends and hopeful restauranteurs, trying to make it sound like it's her high society job... And not, y'know, that she's just a lonely, aging spinster happy to share a meal with anyone who doesn't have FancyFeast breath or shed.

Of course, given the looks of some of these dishes, I can see where Miss Dine-About-Town would want to disavow any involvement in the culinary side of things. I mean, who could blame her?

I'll show you what I mean.

Here, we see the ladies of the bridge club enjoying a quiet, civilized luncheon. Judging by all the black, I'm guessing this was right after they lost their fifth member, Gladys, in an unfortunate card shuffling accident...

Grand Soups I've Met
If you like cream soup with a new texture, a wonderfully creamy "body," try Minute Tapioca in it.

Yes, of all the soups I ever met, the most memorable were the ones with little nubbins of tapioca floating in 'em. I noticed the soup here is called Duchess Soup, and I had to find out just what sort of tapioca-based soup Royalty was enjoying during the 30s.

Well, apparently, our crowned counterparts like their soup made of milk, butter, minced onion, tapioca and grated American cheese.

I say-- terribly regal, what? Undoubtedly what the Queen herself enjoys along with a nice Spam roll or two.

Then Miss Dine-About-Town busts out some main course ideas...

Croquettes and Patties I can personally recommend
Instead of sad croquettes that have lost their shape, or taste all bready and dry, these are shapely, moist creations-- with no hint of what holds them together!

What holds them together, if not Minute Tapioca, might be a few surgical nips and tucks and a pair of perky silicone implants... what do you think?

Similarly, I find myself concerned about the decoratively-arranged veg surrounding this "Veal Loaf Roast"...

I mean, the alternating slices of tomato and onion on top are slightly odd, but what exactly is going on with these potatoes and carrots on the side?...

What statement are we trying to make here exactly? That the cook's love life is not all she'd hoped?

And why do those carrots seem to be trying to do some sort of Rockette scissor-kick move?

Well, moving on to other, less anatomically-correct vegetables...

Now thanks to Minute Tapioca, you'll never have to endure the tiresome process of making a white sauce to drown your veggies in...

Nope, now you can drown 'em lickety-split with versatile tapioca!

Or perhaps your guests are more into sandwiches... Well, Minute Tapioca holds moisture, but won't make bread soggy. So let's just take a look and see what kind of sandwiches they suggest.

"Nippy Cheese Sandwich Filling," eh? And what puts the nip into it? Let's see here... canned tomatoes with juice and pulp... Minute Tapioca... dry mustard... grated American cheese (perhaps it was nippier back in the 30s)... ground dried beef... and Worcestershire sauce.

Mm-mm!, yep, dried beef, American cheese, mustard and tapioca-- doesn't that sound... um... very... er.... elegant and, um, moist?

Well, before we go today, I thought you all would want to see the booklet's full-color centerfold. And no, it's not Miss Dine-About-Town posing for a cheesecake photo...

In fact, cheesecake doesn't enter into it.

The more I look at this, the more I find myself thinking how this is the dessert equivalent of those fat, mustachioed, scary-hairy actors you find out work as the leading men in adult movies.

I mean, I suspect this two-page spread is supposed to be tantalizing, to make us drool a bit-- but somehow with all the lumps and bumps and fruit sprigged like questionable rashes, it just spoils the appetite.

It's the Carl Hungus of dessert buffets.

Well, that's the end of today's dish!

Otherwise, I hope the week ahead treats you sweetly. With no lumps!


Serena said...

I actually find the desserts featured in the centerfold strangely appealing - LOL! To each her own!

Nell Jean said...

I used to like plain Tapioca Pudding, but the other uses for Tapioca Pearls just left me kind of feeling outdated for even liking the pudding.

If you visit my blog, please vote in the poll for backgrounds you like to see on someone's blog -- on the sidebar, top right. Thanks.

Da Old Man said...

Miss D-A-T opened my eyes to the world of tapioca. It's not for dessert anymore.

Andrea said...

This was too funny! The subject of tapioca came up today at the restaurant. A friend was eating some and I couldn't look! I can eat just about anything, but I've always despised tapioca! I can't imagine being so desperate that I would be adding it as a "filler" in everything from meatloaf to white sauce. That is too disgusting for words. I make enough lumps in my gravy without needing those little white eyeballs floating around in my other meals. I'm so happy that Miss Dine-about-town is so amazed and thankful that she can get away with freeloading, but she did not sell me on anything. She's a hoot! Loved her letter!

Holly said...

The croquettes look like a Sicilan peciality called Arancini which are rise balls with various filling (mine favorite is meat with sauce) and then coated with egg, lightly fried for a crunchy coating. Great mid-morning snack - not greasy at all. In Sicily, the shape indicates the filling.

Jenn Thorson said...

Serena- Heh, well I'm glad to know it had the intended effect on some of its audience! :)

NellJean- I actually recall enjoying the flavor of tapioca pudding. I just find the look of it a little daunting.

DaOldMan- Yep, look out-- they could be slipping you all kinds of tapioca-based treats there in the hospital.

Andrea-- Oh, I'm glad you took the time to read the letter-- I thought it was entertaining they tried to explain away why Miss Dine-About-Town, as the gourmet she is, was emphasizing tapioca.

Holly- That sounds absolutely delicious! Mmm. I bet Sicily is a wonderful place to visit, between the history, art and food.

I actually enjoy a good croquette, too... thought as far as I know it's been done with a white sauce and not tapioca. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

NOTE TO PEOPLE USING SEO KEYWORDS AS YOUR COMMENT USERNAMES- I will delete ALL comments of people trying to use my blog for your own SEO purposes.

My regular readers deserve better than to see the comments littered with product names and descriptive terms just to get your own site higher SEO rankings.

NOT COOL and HIGHLY UNNIFTY. And I'm not accepting it.

chyna said...

You tell them Jenn!

Tapioca doesn't bother me half as much the weird things that are done to Jell-o. Applesauce anyone? That was one weird thing the lunch ladies at college tried to pass off in our Jell-O. FYI your gelatin shouldn't be crunchy like that!

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- Heh, I'm fed up with these sneaky SEO folks who think I won't notice. I'm in marketing. I write keywords for clients. I would never do this sort of rubbish to a fellow blogger. :)

Anyway- crunchy Jell-o?? Yes, Jell-O can be so lovely and refreshing, and then it can also go so, so wrong. I recall the lemon-tomato-Jell-o recipe that is spooned into an empty artichoke...

It just is hard to comprehend.