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San Francisco Call, December 20, 1908. As of a couple of weeks ago I have a literary agent, and she has me working on a book proposal for definitive study of mince pie in America. I will confess, there are moments when I say to myself “An entire book on mince pie? That’s insane!” Then I run across an item like this and I think instead, “A book on mince pie: It’s what this country needs if there is to be any hope for its future!”


  1. Not going to lie: I would read the hell out of such a book.

  2. I can’t wait to see the book, and I hope you can sell the movie rights to the Coen brothers. I am picturing a poster showing Javier Bardem holding a meat pie.

  3. Okay, okay, I’ll do it.

  4. Also, if you need ideas for a sequel, the tourtière is apparently to Quebec what the mince pie was to the medieval United States. Present-day recipes in Quebec vary all over the place — most commonly the meat is 2/3 beef, 1/3 pork, but sometimes they have veal, and everyone seems to have their own secret recipe for the seasoning (one recipe I’ve seen used cognac.) I won’t even mention the lumpy alternate versions from beyond the fjord in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

    • Funny you should mention that noble pie, as it happens to be a specialty of mine. There’s much more popular demand for it around here than there is for mince. I used white wine in mine, and tarragon.

        • Kibo
        • Posted June 21, 2010 at 12:57 am
        • Permalink

        Sounds delicious! I’m going to attempt one with scads of pink pepper this week.

  5. Hey, the use of the phrase “cucumber fiend” in that article seems to be an avenue for further research. I knew that Burpee had gone to great lengths to develop the modern “burpless cucumber” but I didn’t know about the terror these green guys had aroused in the late 1800s. I found some other articles about how taking a bite of a cucumber will turn you into a relentless killing machine.

    (Second column, “Stray Sunbeams.”)

    (Fifth column, “The Cucumber Vindicated.”)

    (Second column, “Strawberries and Suicide.”)

    A few years later, it was okay to admit that you liked cucumbers, but they still caused insanity:

    (Third column, “About the Cucumber.”)

    Cucumbers were sometimes even seen in the company of minced meat:

    (Top center, “3 Ways to Cook.”)

    By 1920, the cucumber had successfully infiltrated American kitchens — Virgina Carter Lee’s full-page salutes to the wonders of the cucumber (complete with recipes for Chinatown-style chow-chow) make no mention that they used to be deadly:

    …do you think that housefly was squashed with that paper in 1920 or 2009?

    In conclusion, although I love cucumbers, I now accept that they used to be one of the ten most evil vegetables.

  6. Maybe our ancestors , whom I posit were relatively free of certain toxins and preservatives , were much more in touch with how blown they were.

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