Ambrosia Fruit Salad – A simple vintage tropical fruit salad recipe with pineapple, bananas and coconut from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907.
I tend to be a perfectionist, to a fault. Only lately have I started to realize that my compulsion to make everything I do “just so” might be more a hindrance than a help. For example, I really wanted to get this post online last night. Reason? It’s a recipe from the May 1907 issue of Cooking Club Magazine, and yesterday was the last day of May. I was determined to get this online in May, as I’ve featured a Cooking Club Magazine each month for the past several months… and I couldn’t skip May. I just couldn’t! But then family came over for dinner, and my husband had the brilliant idea to turn our grill into a pizza oven. As we began to cook I twitterpated about this post for an hour, feeling like an utter failure if I didn’t get it online by the end of the night. But I was surrounded by people that I love, and conversation, and pizza, and wine! And suddenly I realized that none of you would really mind if I post May’s issue on June 1. Heck, you probably wouldn’t even notice the delay. Meanwhile, my weird quest for perfectionism ruined a good hour of my day yesterday with silly, unnecessary stressing. Friends, take note. Perfection is a ridiculous thing to strive for. #HashtagDeepThoughts. Onward ambrosia!
In April I shared an issue of Cooking Club Magazine from 1907. My May issue is from 1907 as well, and it is filled with just as many entertaining tidbits. A section near the end of the issue includes recipes for fresh pineapple while also mentioning how difficult it can be to remove the fruit from its tough exterior. I found this interesting given that in 1907, Dole introduced pineapple cannery to Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time. Shortly after, they placed ads in US magazines promoting the “exotic” fruit. The recipe I’ll be sharing with you from this issue contains canned pineapple, no doubt a connection to the Dole marketing campaign.
In this issue, once again, we are treated to a menu containing some popular seasonal dishes of the time period. In May 1907 you may have had the opportunity to dine on dried beef in gravy, prune whip, nut croquettes with lettuce salad and Grand-mother’s dried apple pie. Click on the image for a closer look.
On the menu, you might notice a dish called “floating islands”. After reading the recipe I knew it had to be shared. It’s truly mind boggling. It appears to be a dessert made of meringues floating in flavored milk sauce. If any of you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear about your results!
A column by Fannie Field titled “In Smart Fashion’s Whirl” covers some of the fashion trends of the time, which included embroidered linen parasols, hats trimmed with silk bows and the adorable dresses pictured below. The designs were available through McCalls, the company famous for their clothing patterns.
This intriguing, and slightly disturbing, advertisement for Dr. Whitney’s Nerve and Flesh Builder asks the question “Why Be So Thin?” It claims that the product can develop new flesh to fill out any “hollow places” for a superb figure with a “well developed bust, beautiful neck, pretty arms and shapely shoulders.” I cannot even begin to imagine what this concoction contained, and I’m not sure I want to!
I also got a kick out of this advertisement for a free book titled “Vaudeville State Dancing and Entertaining.” Doesn’t that couple look like they’re having a great time?
The recipe I chose to share this month is called “Ambrosia.” In Greek mythology, the word ambrosia refers to sustenance of the gods, a mythical substance that had the power to make you immortal. Most of us are more familiar with ambrosia salads that contain a sweet, creamy dressing. This sparser tropical version is made by simply layering sugar-topped oranges, bananas, shredded coconut and canned pineapple in a glass dish.
Though the recipe is a bit plain, I’ve presented it the way it is written in the magazine. The only change I recommended was using sweetened coconut instead of plain shredded– the plain coconut made the whole salad a bit dry and boring. I think it could be much improved by layering in some kind of sweetened whipped cream or vanilla custard, trifle-style. I even thought about remaking it that way… but stopped myself before my perfectionism took over. I made half the recipe, which made three nice sized individual fruit salads in small trifle bowls. It can easily be doubled to make six servings if you prefer.
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Ambrosia Fruit Salad
A simple vintage tropical fruit salad recipe with pineapple, bananas and coconut from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907.
- 3 navel oranges, suprèmed and cut into small pieces see notes
- 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 6 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut or use plain fresh shredded coconut as the original recipe states
- 1 cup canned pineapple pieces drained
- 6 tsp sugar divided
You will also need: small dessert cups
Adapted from Cooking Club Magazine, May 1907
Take note that as written in the vintage magazine, this fruit salad might seem a bit "boring." I recommend making a batch of vanilla custard, or perhaps sweetened whipped cream, and layering that in with the fruit for a creamier, yummier dessert. I present it here as written in the magazine, but please feel free to get creative with it.
In the bottom of each dessert cup, place enough orange pieces to cover the bottom. Sprinkle the oranges with 1 tsp of sugar.
Top the sugared oranges with 2 tbsp of the shredded coconut.
Evenly cover the top of the coconut with banana slices.
Top the banana slices with 1/4 cup of pineapple pieces.
Continue this pattern once again until the dishes are full. Serve chilled.