Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WHICH CAME FIRST?

I was going thru some of the old ( and I do mean old) cookbooks that my Mom gave me on my last visit home and noticed the amount of casserole recipes and how little they have changed over the years. The wording may be a little different and we may use margarine, or butter now in place of "oleo", but one thing stood out really clearly to me and I thought to myself "Which came first? The chicken or the Cream of Mushroom Soup?"

Well, according to old casserole folklore and the good folks at Campbell's, their Cream of Mushroom Soup gets the credit for setting the table. Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup was actively promoted to American consumers in the 1930's as a quick and economical alternative to homemade sauces. What did these poor women do before "condensed" became an ingredient? You see, it was suggested that, because of their extreme concentration, a single can of undiluted soup could double as a sauce or stock. "Many times," the booklet Helps for the Hostess stated, "unattractive leftovers are thrown away when, by using a can of Campbell's Soup, they could have been made into an attractive, appetizing dish." Well, now...How 'bout that? I guess we still follow this advice today and every properly stocked pantry has at least one can each of the "Cream" version of mushroom, chicken and celery soups. I sure do and on special occasions, I've been known to break out the GOLDEN Cream of Mushroom Soup that's usually reserved for THAT green bean casserole and always when company's involved. Gosh, we are creatures of habit!
Of course the chicken came first, but after my Google history lesson on casseroles, I'm thankful that all us harried and hurried moms and pops and cooks today have the convenience of the "boneless, skinless" and "Cream of Something Soup", so that we, just like the Happy Hostesses of Yore, can have dinner on the table in a matter of minutes and serve our busy families an "attractive and appetizing dish." Give me a break.
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