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Food Trickery?

My book club tries to have food appropriate to each book. This month I am the cook and our book is "Operation Mincemeat", the story of a British undercover operation which fooled the Nazis during WW2. I am not eager to produce wartime British cuisine! My husband suggested instead that I serve food which is deceptive in some way. So, fellow Chowhounders, any ideas on a menu that would fool my guests?

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  1. Lupa,
    I can not speak too much about deceptive food, but, if you changed your mind about serving something that might be "authentic" for that time and place, I can tell you this:

    My mother was in Britain during the war. She was raised in a small village outside of Glasgow and would not see the end of rationing until she was a teenager. Even though it was difficult (though, not impossible) to get things like real butter...they always had fresh fish. Actually, the Fish was delivered by carriages drawn by Clydesdales. Meat, other than mutton, was hard to come by. Though, that did not really change even after rationing was over.

    I hope that helps.

    1. Isn't modern mincemeat, made of various fruits, really a "deceptive" version of original mincemeat which was indeed minced meat products?

      http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/r... I guess along with the idea of mince pie, here is a link for mock apple pie made from Ritz crackers. I've never made it; I've only ever run across it from time to time. I believe it is a Depression recipe, but perhaps my information is not correct.

      Of course there is also mock turtle soup, which I will let you look for online.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo

        Oh, I like the idea of mock apple pie (even though I would not normally serve guests a dish made from Ritz crackers!). My grandmother used to do something bizarre to tuna salad to make it taste like chicken. I wish I knew what it was......

        1. re: lupaglupa

          You can get all-natural versions of Ritz crackers at Whole Foods. I think the Late July brand has butter crackers that look like Ritz, at least on the box. I did have that mock apple pie years ago, and it was very good. I knew it wasn't apple pie, though.

          For your deception, you could write a menu with British wartime foods and tell the guests this is what you are going to serve, then produce whatever real thing you want. For example, you could write on your menu "omelets made from powdered egg," then serve a yummy frittata as an appetizer.

      2. Don't know where you're located, but Trader Joe's carries an eggless egg salad that could be used as a filling for petite cream puffs, or filo shells, and served as an appetizer. But, if you want to go the extra mile, here's a recipe for homemade (haven't tried it, so can't say how good it is)

        1. You could serve anything stuffed, or filled, or "en croute" -- something that must be "uncovered".

          Or you could physically hide the food on the premises and play the "warm...getting warmer" game!

          3 Replies
          1. re: blue room

            Not sure that would go over well! This is a group that would only like a theme that resulted in a delicious dinner. Authenticity would be compromised early if it meant bad food.

            1. re: lupaglupa

              ? Not sure why these suggestions would mean "bad food" -- ?

              1. re: blue room

                I didn't mean that - I was thinking that they would not enjoy a game - they care more about food than theme.

          2. I made these deconstructed "chili cheese fries" for a dinner party and they were a big hit.


            1. How about Mock Duck? It would quack to several possible themes. Although nowadays it is often made as a vegetarian dish, mock duck was apparently popular during WWII as a sort of meat loaf made from ground meats or sausage, apples and onions, shaped to look like a duck. So it's WWII food, it's deceptive, plus it's really minced meat.

              1. You want WWII-era British food that also has a deceptive nature to it? Make faggots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot_%...) - balls of "off-cuts and offal" which could be good if it was thought out and made properly, but era's version is risk-averse.

                Serve with mash and mushy peas.

                1. How about meatloaf cupcakes "iced" with mashed potatoes, you could do a mini version if it's a finger food evening. Serve a chilled soup in shot glasses (or something bigger), looks like a drink.

                  1. Monkfish is called poor man's lobster, and of course there is surimi, a.k.a. "krab".

                    I make mock potato salad using large dry lima beans which have been soaked and cooked long enough that some of them are coming apart. These are called butter beans when canned. They have a mild flavor and potatoey texture, and are NOT the same variety as the smaller green lima. It tastes virtually identical to ordinary potato salad. If you were blindfolded so you couldn't see the shape of those beans that remain intact, you would not know the diff.

                    There are recipes for chocolate cakes made with sauerkraut and with mayonnaise.

                    1. If you need to serve an entree, I would go with shepherd's pie, hopefully with real lamb.

                      If you just need to serve snacks and appetizers, go for tea and finger sandwiches like cucumber sandwiches, maybe some crumpets.

                      No need to get too realistic, although, I suspect fish and potatoes were always available(fish and chips maybe?).

                      Sorry... I can't think of anything cleverly deceptive.

                        1. http://www.oprah.com/food/Cottage-Pie...

                          I have this guy's cookbook and his recipes are great. Had never heard of cottage pie before. Apparently in the UK shepherd's pie is made with lamb and cottage pie with ground beef. Here in the US I've never heard it referred to as anything but shepherd's pie either way. Maybe it's lame you could ask if anyone knows the real name of the dish? Also in the UK I think they refer to ground beef as "mince" so that ties in.

                          1. There are few things as deceptive as the Turkish Tavuk Göğsü. Looks like rice pudding, tastes like rice pudding, made of... chicken. Though I suppose a rice pudding pretending to be chicken would fit a wartime theme better.


                            1. If you need a dessert idea - a lady I worked with years ago used to bring a mock pineapple upside down cake to the office potlucks.
                              It was made with zucchini instead of pineapple and tasted great - though I have no idea how she did it.

                              1. Not really a 'trick', but I remember reading about war-time bread when wheat was had to come by. It used cornmeal and/or oats. Here is a good link: http://www.theausteritykitchen.com/20...

                                I belong to a bookclub, too, and when I host I always try to match the food to the book!
                                Have fun,

                                1. One deceptive food that came to mind from a friend of mine is BBQ tuna that does indeed taste like pork. Can of drained tuna w/ some BBQ sauce in a slow cooker for a few hours. I've had it but never made it and it does indeed taste strangely like pork.

                                  1. Although it's not deceptive, why not just do dishes with British names: i.e. Dover Sole, London Broil, Lancashire cheese pie, Beef Wellington, Cornish Pasties, Welsh rarebit, Loch Fyne beer-battered mussels, Bakewell tart, British Bread and Butter pudding, Scottish Cranachan,

                                    Or go with traditional items with deceptive names like Bubble and Squeak, Bangers and Mash, Engllish Channel #5 (i.e. Fish and Chips), Rumbledethumps, Cock-a-leekie soup, Spotted Dick or the Knave's (Treacle) Tarts.

                                    1. Anything with Grape-Nuts, which contains neither. It's good as is as a topping for casseroles, or for fruit crisps, when mixed with rolled oats, flour, butter, and sugar.

                                      1. You could make a meatloaf cake. You will find them on Google. They have mashed potato to look like frosting.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: calliope_nh

                                          I did meatloaf cupcakes with blue mashed potato frosting one year as an April Fool's Day joke for my kids. My daughter loved it. My son, who was then about 7, has never forgiven me.

                                          But I'm pretty sure adults would appreciate it as long as the potatoes aren't too appalling to look at.

                                        2. Thanks to all for the good ideas! I decided that the deceptive food wasn't going to work for my crowd so I'm going with Sicilian as the theme (since the whole point of the spy mission was to mislead the Germans about the invasion of Sicily).