Friday, October 7, 2011

Food Friday: Tomato Milk

One of my historical food interests is the foods served during World War II. This is an interesting time food wise because people had to not only make due with what they had but they had to do it while  using ration coupons, food substitutes and enduring shortages.

One recipe I have seen in more than one cookbook from this time is for Tomato Milk also named Milk with Tomato Juice. I'm not sure why this ever seemed like a good idea except that it probably allowed one to stretch what little they had.

The recipe is always pretty much the same. It's basically tomato juice, milk and a pinch of salt or sugar (depending on your preference). The following is the recipe from Metropolitan Cook Book issued by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Notice that there is also a recipe for Milk with Fruit Juice. Another cookbook I saw with this Tomato Milk recipe framed it in the idea that it was the perfect snack for children. (My opinion is it is not a good snack for kids unless you want your children running around yelling about how gross it is-for more on this, see below).

I had mentioned this recipe to my mom who voluntered to give a try since she had all the ingrediants handy. Well we just happened to be at my parent's house one day and she said "let's all try it." Well, what was I going to do? I couldn't just say, "hey mom you try it because I'm pretty sure it's really gross." So my mom, my youngest son (he loves to try weird foods) and I bellied up to the kitchen counter where she mixed the recipe using a pinch of salt. (The rest of the men in our family went outside to look at the garden, yeah right).

Now, I like all of the ingredients involved in this recipe. I love tomato juice. I like milk in my cereal and I love a good dose of sugar. This combination of ingredients reminds me of a drink some of the local Vietnamese restaurants have that is basically an avocado smoothie. I like avocados and I like smoothies, just not certain that avocado smoothie is the best idea for me. The same is true for tomato milk.

So why did I try it? Well I honestly wanted to figure out what was so appealing about that combination. I wanted to see if I could imagine serving it to kids as a "wholesome" snack. I wanted to take a drink of a World War II recipe.

So we tried it. The final result? Two of us felt sick to our stomachs the whole night and the third person ran around yelling about how gross it was. I'll let you figure out who was who.

Basically, it did have this creamy/acidic taste that I found pretty heavy. The taste is probably one you could imagine.

When I asked my Facebook friends if anyone had ever drank this, I didn't have anybody admitting to it but they did name off recipes that were similar ingredients-wise  including a tomato gravy that includes milk.

The moral of this tale is that you should always be cautious when trying the foods of your ancestors. At least don't make plans for later in the day if your going to try something unusual. But it should also give you an appreciation of what they might have ate out of duty.