Friday, June 02, 2006

Salad recipe book of disappointment

Regular readers of the BC (and indeed, Triple J listeners) might remember my rant about the Salad of Disappointment which managed to earn the lofty title of Triple J's "Friday F***wit" a few weeks ago.

Well hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because I've found the grandmammy of salad disappointments - CONSOLIDATED INTO ONE BOOK!

Doesn't that boiled egg look lonely?

Yes, it's a whole disappointing salad recipe book from that doyenne of salad making, Ethel Brice.

What - you've never heard of her? Surely you jest. To jog your memory:

Ethel, Queen of Salads
and      cold        savoury        dishes

She looks like she'd know how to make vinaigrette, doesn't she?*

According to the book's foreword, Ethel is "Australia's foremost cooking expert" and her name "is a byword in kitchens from Cairns to Kalgoorlie, from Auckland to Invercargill". Auckland to WHERE? Somewhere they no longer eat a lot of salad, I'm assuming. The foreword mentions that the book is the first of a series by Ethel, covering everything from breakfast to barbecues and even "cooking in the foreign manner". Oooh THE foreign manner? Of course, there is only one.

Anyway I found this gem of a booklet at a market recently, and I felt I should share some of dear old Ethel's salads with you.

Let's start with a classic - tuna and beans.

Mmm, chunks - in TECHNICOLOUR!

Mmmm doesn't that just get your mouth watering? For the record, this salad also contains onions, capsicum and celery. And if you're wondering what the stuff in the other bowls is, it's apple and orange slices with walnuts. According to Ethel "it is said among cooks that those who have not tasted this kind of salad have never really lived". I would suggest that those who HAVE tasted Ethel's tuna and bean salad might have limited TIME to live, but moving on...

Pig nipples, anyone?

These delightful little blobs are "Beetroot Shapes". I like how Ethel has gone for a general word like "shape". It gives you room to move if you're a beginner and you don't have that exact mould. In any case, these are made from beetroot, celery, vinegar and red jelly mix. Ethel recommends you serve them with cold meats. I recommend you never serve them at all.

Nice and organised...

This, Ethel describes as "an attractive chilled vegetable platter". Mmmm, because there's nothing better than cold, boiled peas, is there? Not to mention corn, beans, carrots and celery. Perhaps Ethel is being sponsored by the celery board. Clearly her oven is on the blink (maybe that's why she came up with this book in the first place) because she once again recommends that we serve this with cold meats. She gives no clue as to what the 'F' is for. "Fucking awful", is my guess.

I have no words...

Proving conclusively that she hasn't paid her gas bill, Ethel serves us up a slice of CHILLED upside down meat loaf, "flavoured deliciously with pineapple". I don't even think celery could save this one.

Now, what would Ethel call this?

So, this is a "Fish Shape". That's actually what it's called. My guess is you'll be vomiting fish shapes when you hear what's in it: gelatine, tomato juice, canned salmon, cucumber, milk, evaporated milk, cottage cheese and mayonnaise. Oh, and celery. Can't forget the celery. An interesting point is that Ethel instructs us to pour the mixture into a fish shaped mould, "Or any other fancy mould". WELL THEN IT'S NOT A FUCKING FISH SHAPE, IS IT, ETHEL? As a side note, this recipe is featured directly above one called "Jellied Veal". Perhaps she's being sponsored by the celery board AND the gelatine board.

And lastly:

The horror, the horror...

Looking incredibly like the inflatable rings you buy for haemorrhoids, it's Ethel's unfortunately named "Corned Beef Ring". With cabbage and shredded corned beef set in tomato flavoured aspic, this dish has absolutely nothing to recommend it. Except for perhaps the fact that it allows me to imagine Ethel inviting friends over to nibble her ring.

*Incidentally, Ethel has no idea how to make vinaigrette, as this is her recipe:

  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped gherkin
  • 1/2 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp chopped capsicum
  • 1/2 cup French dressing


  1. I can tell I'll be having nightmares about "fish shapes" tonight. That is some fucked up food...

  2. you better not be selling out lady...

  3. Eh? Selling out? To who? Ethel Brice?

  4. she has salad in high places my dear. and yes i do mean that.