Early Twentieth Century Recipes Discovered
Early twentieth century vegetarian recipes found in Fort Lauderdale
A fascinating historical story has come to light in South Florida.
For many years local historians had heard various rumors of an early Fort Lauderdale pioneer known only as 'Pappy'. It's believed that he arrived in Fort Lauderdale in 1910. It can now be revealed that Pappy was a cook on an Indian ship which was wrecked off the coast of South Florida and mysteriously, he was the only survivor.
He lived in Fort Lauderdale for many years until he disappeared just as mysteriously as hed arrived. More than a century later, Pappys existence has been proved and his cookbook has been discovered!
Pioneer Ivy Stranahan employed Pappy as her cook because, like her, Pappy was vegetarian. He had been at sea since he was just a boy and had a huge repertoire of recipes from all over the world. His travels also meant that he spoke his own peculiar Pidgin English which was entertaining to say the least! Pappy first turned up at the House of Refuge on Fort Lauderdale Beach unable to explain how he had been able to survive when the rest of the crew perished.
Pappy made the most of local Florida foods. He didn't understand English very well so his recipes are highly entertaining but once I discovered his own peculiar 'language' I saw that these recipes were in fact very tasty. Because of his travels aboard ship, they include an Italian recipe, a Hawaiian recipe and dishes inspired by his travels.
It's not yet known who typed Pappy's recipes, although it's strongly suspected that it was Ivy Stranahan herself and it's wonderful that she typed them verbatim so we can still enjoy Pappy's unique and colorful language! I was delighted to be able to photograph just a few pages from Pappy's collection.
A Rhapsody Loaf Lippy
I'd been told about Pappy's unique style but I still laughed out loud when I saw this first one. Loafy bread and he is rhapsody on your lippys. Yum. - Pappy's way of saying tasty! After a little translation; it seems that it's rather like Summer Pudding. A loaf is hollowed out and filled with local fruit and honey. A heavy weight is placed on top to press this - so similar to Summer Pudding. You'll see that Pappy served this to the Stranahan's guests with custard made from eggs and sugar. This indicates that this was one of Pappy's earlier recipes as dairy was unavailable in Fort Lauderdale in the early years. The fact that he says sucre strongly implies a French influence in his speech. Truly fascinating.
I'd Fry Aloo Slaphappy
I love the titles of Pappy's recipes and it's wonderful that the typist wrote them out exactly as dictated. Slaphappy seems to mean 'easy and simple'. In this recipe Pappy calls potatoes aloo which is Indian. Was Pappy from India? The ship he sailed on was but you'll notice that he also uses French and Spanish words in this recipe. It seems that this recipe was a favorite of Frank Stranahan's and is simply potatoes fried in olive oil with garlic and parsley. This is Pappy's first reference to alcohol. Having lived aboard ship, he was accustomed to a tot of rum but Mrs. Stranahan forbade this. She was teetotal and objected to alcohol as she thought that it would be the downfall of the local Seminole Indians. As Pappy says 'Yo ho ho rum here good but Mrs Stranahan say no boozy and boozy bad.'
Pappy washed up on Fort Lauderdale Beach in a large wooden barrel - that probably saved his life. The cause of the shipwreck hasn't been discovered but Pappy had time to collect some of his belongings - a large copper pan, a string of garlic, a very sharp knife and a battered copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.
Papaya Floridly Posh
This sounds wonderful! Pappy sliced papaya in half, removed the seeds, added raisins and wrapped the papaya halves in pastry. Once again Pappy regrets that he can't use rum in the recipe. In this recipe, I get the impression that Pappy had an English influence because of his use of the word fellows. It seems that Pappy never quite managed to say 'Florida' as he repeatedly calls the state Floridly. What's interesting here is that Pappy mentions Ivy Stranahan drinking hot chocolate with this dish. It was known to be her favorite drink.
This confirms to me that these recipes are authentic and that Pappy did indeed work for the Stranahans. When Pappy repeats a word, its seems that he is emphasizing it. For example 'chop chop chop' means 'chop hard' and 'drizzle drizzle bee honey' indicates 'use a lot of honey'. Once again, he regrets that Mrs Stranahan doesn't allow the use of 'yo ho ho'.
Pappy's Friday Halloo
It seems that this dish was often served at the Stranahan House. The name of the dish implies that it was a Friday regular. It's obvious that Pappy had traveled to Italy when working aboard ship and this is a recipe for homemade ravioli. Because Ivy Stranahan didn't eat meat, the pasta is filled with a mix of vegetables and chopped nuts. Pappy shows in this recipe that he had been to Italy but also French and Indian references are used. He serves this dish with a salad of tomato, onion and cooked cold potatoes. The ravioli stuffed with nuts and vegetables sound delicious! I love rolypoly pin. I'm going to use that word from now on. Once again, he uses the Indian word aloo for potato.
Pappy's Foolhardy Ail
I had to laugh when I saw this recipe. It's actually aioli, garlic mayonnaise, shortened by Pappy to ail. Pappy explains that he was taught to make this sauce by French sailor wearing berry hats which is a picturesque image but I'm sure he means 'berets'. What's funny about this recipe is that he calls it foolhardy because Ivy Stranahan doesn't appear to like garlic. Nevertheless, she appreciates that it is a healthy food even though it's stinky. I love the way Pappy says that he eats it as a spread on a slice of bread. I could do that!
Dip Aloha Sloppy Fray
The title of this recipe certainly had me intrigued! But it seems that Pappy had travelled to Hawaii and met people who wear grass. He describes how he met a lady called Fray (possibly Friea or Freya) who taught him this recipe. He cuts a pineapple in half lengthwise and scoops out the flesh which he pummels and adds other chopped fruits plus chopped nuts and honey. Once again, he mentions that Ivy Stranahan won't allow him to add yo ho ho! The fruit and nut mix is then served in the pineapple shells as a dip - or a sloppy as Pappy calls it!
The disappearance of Pappy
It has been discovered that Pappy landed at the House Of Refuge on Fort Lauderdale Beach on 1st April, 1910; the sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck. It was exactly ten years later, on 1st April, 1920, that he disappeared. To date, no-one know why he left the area or where he went. Maybe the call of the ocean was too great for him and he returned to sea. Or perhaps he secretly hankered after Fray, the grass lady in Hawaii.Who knows?
I was privileged to see these recipes ‘in the flesh’ and they are on faded old paper and can be difficult to read. But one thing struck me. Have you noticed it? All the titles of Pappy’s recipes have eighteen letters. Pappy was such a mysterious character and I’m sure that there’s more to him than meets the eye. Are those titles some sort of message?
I have been researching to see if I can find out which ship Pappy came from. I haven't found out yet but the history of the Florida coast, ships and shipwrecks is fascinating.
Copper pans and cookware
Pappy was right when one of the few items he saved from his sinking ship was a copper pan. These have been used for generations and heat quickly to cook food but then cool quickly too so that foods won't burn. People who use copper pans also report that they need to use less oil, thus making their recipes healthier. They are also very decorative and suit modern and traditional decors. In fact, Pappy would probably say he be fool who no use coppery cookypan.
Stranahan House in Pappy's day
Photograph © Andy Royston.
Isn't it funny how something can be right under your nose and yet you don't spot it? Today I was cleaning my house (I know, that doesn't happen often) and looking at an ornamental piece that we have - suddenly I put two and two together.
Let me tell you about it. Many years ago, when I first moved to Fort Lauderdale, I bought this piece in a consignment store locally. Well, you know what salespeople can be like and I suddenly remembered the story that the man in the store had told me.He said that the piece had originally come from the Stranahan House and had been owned by someone who worked there many years ago. Evidently, he said, this person wasn't incredibly literate and would use these items, which are old Victoria-era printer's blocks, to learn his 'ABCs'.
Someone at some time in the early 1900s had put these blocks in a frame and that's what I bought - old printing letters in an old frame. It's been in my house for years but I'd always taken the story with a pinch of salt.
Of course! As soon as I remembered this I recalled that Ivy Stranahan (Pappy worked for her as a vegetarian cook, you'll remember) was originally a schoolteacher but gave up teaching in the local Fort Lauderdale school when she married. However, she continued to teach local Seminole children as it was her strong belief that they needed to be literate to survive in the fast-changing new town of Fort Lauderdale. So it was only natural that, if she had an employee who couldn't read or write, she'd try to teach them!
Now, I specifically recall that the man in the store had said that particular phrase 'learn his ABCs'. I remembered it because it sounded so old-fashioned. This definitely was a phrase that I know Ivy Stranahan used to use - look!
All is (nearly) revealed
Before I reveal the other important thing the man in the store told me, I know that today many people are skeptical about information they read on the internet so I want to show you that this piece is in my house. (If you've seen my article about 1940s Florida architecture, you'll recognize my home).
The proof of the puddingClick thumbnail to view full-size
I remembered something else that the shop man had said. The reason I remember this is because his comment reminded me that I used to do the same when I was a child. He said 'This person loved to rearrange the letters and make anagrams'.Light bulb! This made me look at the titles of Pappy's recipes again...
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Lead image © Andy Royston. 'Photographs' of Pappy's original recipes created by me in Photoshop, sadly :)