Capt. Bob Bartlett’s favourite recipe
a silver spoon not in their mouths, but in their hands. The cap and apron, not the cap and bells, is the garb in which they perform. Secrets handed down through generations are thrown with a wanton hand on the pages that comprise this volume. Sauces from the south, chowders from New England, barbecued masterpieces from the west, grilled classics from field and stream, ragouts, stews, desserts, dressings are hung within reach of all, like garlic clusters from the rafters of opportunity. Reach up and help yourself.”
Davis cautioned the reader: “Turn the pages slowly lest you be overwhelmed by the richness of the menu.” The contributors, he suggested, “are not afraid to take their own medicine.” Finally, he joked that the men, whose favourite recipes make up the book, agreed with Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), the French epicure and gastronome, who characterized “‘ Gasteria’ the tenth and fairest of the Muses.”
Sheridan dedicated his book to “that great host of bachelors and benedicts alike who have, at one time or another, tried to ‘ cook something’; and who, in the attempt, have weakened under a fire of feminine raillery and sarcasm, only to spoil what, under more favourable circumstances, would have provided a chef-d’oeuvre.”
A book reviewer, writing in the November 1923 issue of “The Rotarian,” promised that “there is hope for ... culinary cripples.” “The Stag Cook Book,” he suggested, “is an excellent little volume which should be in every bachelor’s library – and that of any married man who has influence enough to get it into his home ... This book tells how to prepare the choice dishes of a dozen nations – and adds a piquant sauce of humour all too rare in such publications. Every recipe is given by a well-known man whose travels guarantee his taste – and the comment of these epicures is as spicy as the dishes they suggest to the gourmand. With this book, a little intelligence, and a kitchenette, you can avoid nightmare, save doctors’ bills, and make the gastronomic gesture part of your vocabulary.” Now, back to Brigus’ most famous son. Not surprisingly, Capt. Bob Bartlett’s favourite recipe was a fish dish. But not just any fish; it had to be “fresh Labrador codfish caught during the caplin school.” Why? “The fish is at this time in splendid condition.”
He then launched into the intricacies of preparing the perfect codfish dish. He took great pains to provide the prospective cook with the greatest detail to ensure a pure gastronomic delight.
First, “place a small bake pot upon a wood fire.”
Second, “take a few strips of fat pork.”
Third, cut up the pork “into small pieces.”
Fourth, put the pork pieces “into the bake pot.” Fifth, wait for the pork fat to melt. Sixth, “cut the fish into several small pieces.”
Seventh, place the pieces “in the pot.” Eighth, cook for about 20 minutes. And ninth, he concluded, “the fish must be eaten from the pot with a wooden spoon.”
By the way, the favourite recipes of Warren G. Harding, Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Henry van Dyke were waffles, scalloped mushrooms and deviled eggs, steak and kidney pie, bread tart and fish chowder, respectively.