Normal Topic Spinach Mother of Christ (Read 7831 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Spinach Mother of Christ
Jan 15th, 2002 at 10:04am
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Professor David T. Lykken refers to a recipe called "Spinach Mother of Christ" in a review of Robert J. Ferguson and Chris Gugas Sr.'s 1984 book, Preemployment Polygraphy. The text of this review is included in Chapter 10 of the 2nd edition of Lykken's book, A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector. Lykken writes:

When I am feeling low, I turn for spiritual sustenance to the Bull Cook Book by George Leonard Herter [Waseca, Minn: Herters Inc., 1963]. It is not the quality of the recipes that I admire (although "Spinach Mother of Christ" has a certain je ne sais quoi), nor do I necessarily agree with the aesthetic, social, or political dicta with which the text is interlarded. It is the tone of the work, the vivid impression it conveys of an author brimming with overly strongly held opinions, some of them surprising, and with facts not generally known (e.g., "Mary, the mother of Jesus, was very fond of spinach. The way she liked it best was ..."), all of it uttered with sublime assurance and self-confidence. Those wimps, Uncertainty and Doubt, cannot long survive in the company of Mr. Herter.

As serendipity would have it, I came across a copy of Herter's book while spending Christmas with relatives in New Mexico. I have long wondered how Mary liked spinach best, and thought I'd share the recipe here. The following is from Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, written and illustrated by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, 16th ed.,   (Waseca, Minnesota: Herter's, 1969) p. 230:


The Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ was very fond of spinach. This is as well a known fact in Nazareth today as it was 19 centuries ago. Her favorite music was that of the crude bagpipes of that time, and this also is a well-known fact.

Her recipe for preparing spinach spread with Christianity throughout Europe. On the eve of Christ's birth in the cave that was called a stable, Her only meal was spinach.

The early European immigrants from Germany, France and Italy nearly all brought this recipe with them. This is a recipe for people who like a mild garlic flavor, it definitely is not for people who do not like some garlic.

This recipe cannot be made from canned spinach. Canned spinach in no way resembles fresh or frozen spinach and in my opinion is fit for neither man nor beast.

Take six quarts of fresh spinach and carefully remove the heavy stems. If you use frozen spinach take two boxes. Boil the fresh spinach five minutes -- no more. If you boil spinach too much it completely loses all of its original taste. If you use frozen spinach, place it in boiling water. With a fork break up the frozen blocks as soon as possible. After the blocks are broken up and the spinach loose, boil it for 1 to 2 minutes -- no more or it is worthless. Put three heaping teaspoons of butter in a frying pan and melt it. Chop up four cloves of garlic and put them into the melted butter. Fry them with medium or low heat until slightly brown. Frying garlic in butter entirely changes its odor and flavor making it quite mild. Take the drained spinach and mix in the butter and fried garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Originally the spinach was then pestled into a puree. Today, take your food mill and pass the spinach through it making it into a puree. Serve as a main dish with bread and butter or as a vegetable with a regular meal.

Today in Belgium and Germany a little nutmeg is sprinkled over the top of the puree. This however was not in the original recipe.

George W. Maschke
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