Culinary historian talks kitchen tools

HOLLIS – A Banana Glamor­izer or a Hokey Pokey Snowball Maker? How about a Saratoga Potato Chip Maker?

For anyone who loves old kitchen gadgets, the Lawrence Barn was the place to be recently as dozens of wooden and metal items were displayed.

They belong to Lou Green­stein, a culinary historian and television chef who has managed hotels, country clubs and restau­rants.

His program, called "The Humor of Food and History," was essentially a show and tell enlivened by stories from a long career in the culinary industry that included work as a cook-steward on a 100-foot schooner as it sailed around the world.

Greenstein says he has 5,000 cu­linary gadgets at home, including 200 meat grinders, thousands of cookbooks and more than 10,000 menus.

"My kids told me not to die" because they wouldn’t know what to do with all of the stuff, he said.

The first item he showed dur­ing the Hollis Historical Society program was a device for adding colored beads to margarine to make it yellow. Some people in the audience were old enough to remember when margarine was only available in unappetizing white blocks.

"That was because the dairy industry didn’t like margarine," Greenstein said.

He talked about the days when glass bottles filled with milk and cream on top were delivered to homes every day, and strapping men would load huge blocks of ice on their backs and climb to the sixth floor of apartment buildings to deliver the only form of refrigeration available.

"This was part of every­one’s life," he said.

Greenstein’s collection includes 70 chocolate molds. One is pewter in the shape of a jack of dia­monds, which indicates there had originally been 52 of them.

The Banana Glamor­izer, he explained, is a device for coring a banana and then stuffing it with ice cream, a des­sert made even better by freezing and dipping in chocolate.

Not so wholesome was Foley’s Pain Relief, a late-19th-century concoc­tion purported to cure colic, cholera, frostbite and "all bowel com­plaints." It was made from alcohol, opium and chloroform.

Greenstein talked about the evolution of the fork, and showed off an elegant spoon designed to remove marrow from a bone. There was also a grapefruit press, a doughnut fork and a meat juicer, from back in the day when meat juice was considered healthy.

He rhapsodized about an art deco egg slicer and an eggbeater called American Beauty.

"If my son had to marry an eggbeater," this would be the one, he quipped.

Greenstein also brought some of his collection of old menu covers, which can be purchased at love menuart.com.

The next Hollis His­torical Society program will be about Shaker boxes, presented by Tom Worcester and Brad Wild, on March 16.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.