By Merry Post
Special to The Ellsworth American
Homemade noodles are quick and easy. They have a fresh, eggy taste that cannot be matched by dry pasta. They will elevate beef, chicken or turkey broth into a satisfying soup that looks more complicated than it is.
I found a good recipe for noodles in a charity cookbook put together by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Fifth Street Baptist Church of Lowell, Mass., in 1888. By the time it was published, many women’s groups had become savvy at marketing their charity cookbooks. Often they were able to cover their printing costs by selling advertising space. These Baptist ladies were very successful in selling advertisements in the pages of their cookbook.
The ads themselves are interesting artifacts of social history. For instance, a restaurateur advertised separate dining and oyster rooms for ladies and gents. In 1888, it was considered shocking for women to dine in a public restaurant without a male escort. A dining room reserved for ladies solved the problem.
The products advertised were not limited to fancy groceries, furniture, French kid boots, corsets and ladies’ dress goods — items that were assumed to be the province of women. A dentist advertised that he could put in a perfect gold filling without the use of a mallet and without any pain.
“This is new and novel,” Dr. Folsom redundantly proclaimed. Lumber, gravel, cement, office supplies and mortgage lending also were advertised, which indicates that these businesses’ owners believed the cookbook was a worthwhile vehicle to reach church members.
Charity cookbooks were an American innovation first sold in 1864 to raise money to aid wounded soldiers. The Ladies’ Aid Society declared the purpose of their cookbook was to fundraise for carpeting the church.
I have included a recipe for chicken broth, but any type of broth could be used to make a noodle soup.