This section is from the book "The International Cook Book", by Alexander Filippini. Also available from Amazon: The international cook book; over 3,300 recipes gathered from all over the world, including many never before published in English. With complete menus of the three meals for every day.
At the time of the publication of my first work, "The Table," in 1889, my duties and responsibilities at Delmonico's were such that I was only able to write at irregular intervals, and so the book was necessarily somewhat hurried and contained many reference numbers. It, however, was remarkably successful, through the kind and generous support of the public, for which I am profoundly grateful.
This new work, "The International Cook Book," is the result of years of preparation. No efforts were spared in seeking information from every source. A leave of absence for several months was obtained from my superiors of the International Navigation Company, a tour of the world was made, and personal visits paid to hotels, restaurants and homes of all countries. Indeed, I have been continually gathering new material and travelling for the past decade, and the work is truly international in its scope. It certainly is more thorough and complete than any work of its kind to date, containing in all over 3,000 recipes, each giving full directions.
It was the many inquiries of acquaintances in regard to dishes I had provided and the friendly suggestions that I should get up a collection of my recipes that first showed me the demand for a reliable book pointing the way to wholesome and nourishing meals. Things of considerable interest in the line of catering were found throughout my travels, as is attested by the recipes, and my only regret is not having undertaken the trip many years earlier.
Japan, for instance, was quite a source of information for valuable ways of preparing curries and for excellent fish soups. The advancement made in that country was shown by the employment in Tokio, Kyoto and Yokohama of experienced managers who had gained their knowledge of the business in America, England and France.
From the higher-class restaurants of China have been brought ideas for stews - for instance, Bami Honkongroise - which as modified make tasty dishes. Special inquiries have been made about some of these dishes by people who have eaten them as prepared under my direction without realising that they were Oriental dishes. They have been modified for the American taste, as all these adopted from Eastern countries are made too rich as prepared in the native homes. The Chinese have ways of picking birds so finely by the use of a wet towel that they look as though they had been shaved, and have a number of good ideas in using macaroni and in the preparation of bacon, ducklings, etc. In seasoning, too, the Chinese have original ideas. They take slices of ham, perhaps, put it over a range or near the fire, char it, then pound it to powder, and it gives an excellent taste when used as seasoning.
Menus for an entire day's meals as prepared in a high-class Chinese home are given in No. 3317.
At Penang I found a number of good dishes, particularly curries of prawns and shrimps. At Macao, near Canton, the Portuguese have established quite an industry in dried fish, a trade which the Japanese also are developing. Fish of various kinds are split, cleaned and spread out on immense nets upon the ground, dried in the sun, salted, and then packed in barrels and used for boiling, for soups, etc. This industry is still in its infancy in the United States.
The Celestials prepare whole lambs, pigs, large geese or ducklings on a spit, barbecue-like, and then use them in portions or slices as required.
In the zealous search for knowledge of the kitchen in China, the writer had several very narrow escapes from the violence of suspicious Boxers. Not having been warned as to how dangerous it is for a traveller to enter Canton unaccompanied by a native guide, I boldly made my way through the old city early one morning. Beginning with rude nudges from passers-by, the indignities increased until I was followed by an increasing horde, and then through the narrow passages I hurried, occasionally warding off an assailant. My curiosity had evidently led them to take me for a war-tax collector, and when I eluded them finally and got to the European quarters much surprise was expressed that I had ventured there alone and had been able to get away.
I had been advised of the high class of dishes served in the Chinese gambling quarters of Singapore, and while there a friendly warning voice from a house across the way came when I was again in danger.
As a warning to travellers to China and Japan, the danger of eating fresh vegetables there should be referred to. The fever so easily contracted results from the night soil that is used for fertilising, and so many cases have developed that the Hong Kong board of health has had to compel restaurant proprietors to put notices on their bills of fare that fresh vegetables were not allowed to be served, imported canned vegetables from the Pacific coast being served instead.
In Manila curried rice is eaten three times a day, much as in China, and Spanish dishes and customs have also been widely introduced. India provided ideas for curried eggs, curried vegetables, prawns and other fish with rice. Indian cooks are clever and can turn out excellent native dishes, which are better appreciated if one is not present to see them prepared. Meat as a rule is eaten directly after the cattle are killed, rendering the meat sinewy, tasteless and exceedingly coarse.
Papaya, a sort of mango, is a fruit that furnishes a great treat to the visitor to Bombay. It is very much in use for the cure of indigestion. Eaten just after a meal it gives remarkable relief to the sufferer, which I observed, as I had been on too steady a rice diet.
In Alexandria and Cairo the great consumption of cucumbers was interesting, and they were to be seen growing to the size of two and a half feet and over. The people save the liquor from them, and it is used by the women as a face lotion for the complexion.
Greece and Turkey have quite a number of excellent native dishes, but somewhat too rich, as a good deal of oil is used for cooking in place of butter. Both countries produce plenty of excellent vegetables and a variety of fine, delicious fruits. Quite a number of recipes for native dishes of both countries will be found in the book.