18 August 2011

The Transcendental Boiled Dinner


The Transcendental Boiled Dinner is one of those cookbooks that is not. Died in the wool Mainer, John Pullen delivers his 92 homage to one of the quintessential Maine culinary experiences -- the boiled dinner.

Pullen begins his history with the apropos statement from none other than Mark Twain:

"Mark Twain once remarked that there is nothing so good as Southern corn bread and nothing so bad as the Northern imitation of it."

He had me at "corn bread."

Pullen admits to no culinary ability except for the New England Boiled Dinner. But it is not culinary ability that makes a boiled dinner:

"Success in preparing the New England Boiled dinner begins with the character of the cook."


To understand Pullen's hypothesis he illustrates it with two well-known characters from eighteenth century America. Cooking character on a scale of 1 -10 would give you:

Benjamin Franklin ............................................................Johnathan Edwards

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10



Pullen says of Franklin, "I would not trust Franklin to boil this Dinner as far as I could throw him."

Pullen says of Edwards, "he is superb metaphysically in his qualifications for the Boiled Dinner assignment."

He had me at "Jonathan Edwards."

Anyone that feels the need to employ the Doctrine of Original Sin into their culinary pursuits is fine with me.
For his Transcendental Boiled Dinner, Pullen notes that there is beef and the following four vegetables: Potatoes, Cabbage, Carrots and Turnips. Now some people will say that in addition to these vegetables, one should add the onion. Pullen disagrees -- vociferously.

"I have emphasized the necessity of a theological point of view that will exclude from the Dinner all ingredients except those I have appointed as being fit and worthy. To all these excluded things the onion stands a does Satan to his host of minor fiends, demons and evil spirits!"


As you now may realize, the recipe for Transcendental Boiled Dinner is more of "path" than an actual recipe, filled with science, theology and literature. Here however is the recipe. There is a standard table and the modified table as Mr. Pullen was regrettably tardy in beginning the process:


Standard Table........................................................... Modified Table

Beef starts simmer.....2:00 P.M.....................................2:05 P.M.
Turnip insertion.........5:16 P.M.....................................5:21 P.M.
Potato insertion..........5:31 P.M.....................................5:36 P.M.
Cabbage insertion.......5:41 P.M.....................................5:46 P.M.
Carrot insertion..........5:46 P.M......................................5:51 P.M.
Dinner done...............6:00 P.M......................................6:05 P.M.


And as Jonathan Edwards will tell you, one simply cannot lie about the details, lest he be cast into Hell. Cookbook or not, The Transcendental Boiled Dinner is a culinary masterpiece.

1 comment:

  1. I so love this book! I am so glad you put it on your blog! It is so funny and really does give good instructions for making a good, old-fashioned boiled dinner.

    ReplyDelete

Blog Widget by LinkWithin