22 (Sun) November 2020
Mrs D’s Stampot von Zuurkool met Rookworst
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (19) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)
Endeavoring to read the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
The Twenty-One Balloons (1948) by William Pène du Bois. Set in 1883, the book is about William Waterman Sherman, a recently retired teacher who builds a gigantic hydrogen balloon, attaches it to a small house, floats off on a trip to nowhere, crashes (7 days into the journey) on the remote island of Krakatoa, is captured by and/or hangs out (for 4 days) with a secret society of uber rich families – American expats who live on the island while creating zany inventions for their own amusement – and escapes with them on a life-raft lifted by 20 gigantic hydrogen balloons when the island’s volcano erupts – I’m finding it impossible to believe that nobody seems to have mentioned this book as an obvious source of rip-off when the Pixar movie Up came out.
While I appreciated the book’s spirit of adventure and creativity, which may have stirred a sensation in 1947, I found the plot to be overly contrived and various story elements to be oddly imbalanced, like how the initial 38 pages of the 180-page book recount the national efforts to get the guy in front of a proper audience before he’ll begin to tell his tale, which then plays out as an extended flashback.
Stamppot is a Dutch dish. Potatoes are cooked in a pot (pot), mashed (stamp), combined with cooked vegetables, such as saurkraut (zuurkool), typically served with smoked sausage (rookworst).
[paraphrased in part]
The food situation, now that I look back at it, was the funniest I’m sure in the history of life-raft travel. We had three huge caldrons of a Dutch dish Mrs D had prepared for dinner the night of the eruption. This dish was called Stampot von zuurkool met rookworst. I have heard of shipwrecked men living for days on hardtack and water, but we citizens of the former Island of Krakatoa lived on Stampot von zuurkool met rookworst. This was a dish consisting of meat cooked in gravy, sauerkraut, and sausages. Mr M, the man who first discovered the diamond mines of Krakatoa and who persuaded the twenty other families to go and live there, supervised the rationing of the food, allowing but meager portions of Stampot von zuurkool met rookworst to each person.
It didn’t turn out so great. First, the sausages were very bland, even after I’d grilled them in a pan and then roasted them in the air-fryer to add some color and singe on the skins. The mashed potato and saurkraut mix – as per several online recipes, the mashed potatoes were made as usual, then just folded into warmed saurkraut – was a peculiar juxtaposition of creamy/savory with tangy/bitter. I found the dish to be edible, but the family didn’t buy it.
Anyway, “Stampot von Zuurkool met Rookworst” is the most interesting name for a dish in this project thus far.
The one bit that I quite enjoyed in the book is the island’s Restaurant Government. Each family, which is assigned a letter of the alphabet, in turn corresponding to a country, runs a restaurant that specializes in cuisine from that country. “We Americans all have different inherited tastes so we decided that each restaurant should serve the food of a different nation.” One day per month, each family feeds all the other families from their restaurant, breakfast, lunch, dinner. Written in 1947, set in 1886, the book’s list of countries/cuisines and attitudes towards them seem rather dated, and many letters are not mentioned, but it’s absurdly amusing as a concept (gives me an idea for a future project):
A – American
B – British chop house: “Today is ‘B’ Day of the Month of Lamb, so we are having British mutton chops. British mutton chops are hard to beat.”
C – Chinese: “I am not too partial to Oriental food and didn’t even dare to ask what I was eating for fear that any accurate description or analysis would only add to the uneasiness with which I suffered through each meal.”
D – Dutch
E – Egyptian
F – French
G – not mentioned (German? Greek?)
H – not mentioned (Honduran? Hansik?)
I – Italian: “I am certainly looking forward to ‘I’ Day, because I love spaghetti.”
K – Krakatoan: “It specializes in dishes of strictly native foods; odd dishes prepared from the bread of the bread trees, milk from the trunks of the milk palms; cocoanuts, bananas and more exotic foods, and mostly the wonderful fish which are so easily found in the ocean which surrounds us.”
L – not mentioned (Lebanese? Laotian?)
M – Moroccan
N – not mentioned (Nepali? North Korean?)
O – not mentioned (Omani – currently, only one country in the world starts with O)
P – not mentioned (Pakistani? Philippine?)
Q – not mentioned (Qatari – currently, only one country in the world starts with O)
R – Russian tearoom
S – Swedish smorgasbord
T – Turkish coffee house
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)