WHAT! BREAD CRUMBS GO TO WASTE! WON’T POOR EVER LEARN?

By Dorothy Day

New York Call Saturday, February 17, 1917, page 1

Fifth Avenue was thwarted in its aim to show First Avenue how to use its stale bread crumbs yesterday afternoon, when none but furred, crepe-de-chined, powdered and scented women of the upper walks of life appeared to view and be viewed at a class in food demonstration in the committee on home economics of the National Special Aid society, 259 Fifth Avenue, of which Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer is the chairman.

Circulars were sent around to all of the settlement houses of the city asking those in charge to bring tenement mothers to be taught how to be thrifty.

“We all know,” said Mrs. Meyer, “that the food wasted most is bread. Why you can go all ‘round the city and look to the garbage pails and see half loaves of bread - whole half loaves! – thrown out because they are hard or moldy. You can, really!

“So, we propose to begin with this basic food and show how the whole dinner from the appetizer to the demitasse for dinner, and from the soup to the desert for lunch, can be made with stale bread crumbs. Miss Bertha E. Shapleigh will show us how to do this.

So Sorry for the Poor

“We are very sorry that those people who would be most benefited by the talk and demonstration have failed to show up. Perhaps they were shy and thought that they wouldn’t be welcome. To accommodate them we are going to extend this charity to the settlement houses.

“The first series of lectures on the economic preparation of foods will held at Hartley House, 413 West 46th Street beginning Thursday afternoon, March 1.”

Then Miss Shapleigh, of Teachers College, proceeded with her crookery. With salt, pepper, onions, water and bread and half a cup of milk she concocted a soup which, besides being nutritious, she claimed, is soothing to the greatest degree.

“As a cure for fatigue,” she said, “onion soup is famed.” This soup would prove of the greatest value for women who have to scrub and wash clothes and iron and carry babies around on their hips.

“Yes.” Mrs. Meyer added and all the ladies chorused, “It is too bad the poor laboring women are not here.” Then the expert on how-to-make-something-out-of-nothing created fish thimbles, small croquettes with a sprig of parsley on top; and a bread salad with two diminutive pickles and some pimentos – is that the way you spell it? – cut up through it, and a fried bread dessert with stewed prunes on top.

Disguise Is Suggested

This meal took about an hour and a half to demonstrate, although some of it was partially prepared beforehand. It was not a sordid, commonplace meal. The aesthetic side of it was well looked after. For instance, the soup could be colored with a dash of catsup or a sprig of parsley whichever color the laboring man prefers. The anemic look of those things ordinarily known as fish balls was disguised by a brilliant tomato sauce and further enhanced by the abovementioned parsley. The salad was decorated with lettuce leaves which might be substituted by dandelion sprouts, plucked from tenement gardens in the soft, balmy days of spring.

Salads, appetizers, entrees, soufflés and canopies can all be made from the stale loaf, which must be redeemed from the garbage can. It was further disclosed in the afternoon demonstration that garbage – or, to put it gentler – vegetable scraps garnered from the icebox and from off the family’s plates would serve as delightful flavors (?) for the vinegar dressings.

The committee on home economics has made plans as far ahead as next September. “Six lessons will be given at Van Cortlandt park,” runs the circular, “beginning October 2. $2 for instruction and food. Learn how to be self-reliant. Be prepared to take care of yourself in the open!”