A bit over a month ago I was contacted by the illustrious Captain Max Virtus of Escapades in Bizarrchaeology asking if I would be interested in digging up some bizarre foods eaten by WWI soldiers in the trenches. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity as A. I rather enjoy history; and B. I consider myself to be something of an expert in digging. Why, you may well ask? Once upon a time, I was an amateur grave digger. Quite the leap from computer work, no? Allow me to explain:
My freshman history teacher was something of a legend in the school. Tenacious, passionate, and mildly eccentric about getting his students to pay attention in class. Let me tell you, when your teacher steals a Barbie doll from his daughter, fills its head with fake blood, and ‘chops’ her head off with a miniature guillotine while referring to her as Marie Antoinette… well. Kids paid attention. He also sold really excellent beef jerky year-round to fund legendary history club trips to Detroit and Memphis.
It was fitting, then, that he gathered up volunteers to help renovate a mid-1800’s cemetery in a nearby town. We learned about gravestone symbolism, removing lichen from etched stone, and righting headstones. The latter, of course, required a fair amount of digging as there was much headstone buried in the ground as there was above ground to keep the stones standing. It was normal for us to be seen standing in 4-foot deep holes wiping sweat from our brows. Our most helpful documentation was a list of peak cholera death years; definitely no digging in those! It was hard, dirty work and I loved telling people that yes, the shovel in my back seat was there for grave digging. (Well, it was.)
So how in hell does one combine video games, food, and World War I, anyway? Surely there aren’t that many video games based on the Great War, right? Which brings us to Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
Ready? Let’s go. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a comic book styled adventure/puzzle type game which follows five characters of different nationalities through WWI. There is trench warfare and the introduction of poisonous gases. On a lighter note, however, there was a different sort of gas permeating the air around dinnertime: some standard (if bizarrely named) fare for soldiers was Bullets in a Pot, also known as Repeaters & Pork. Give up? Baked Beans! Gamers, grab your mats:
- 2 pounds beans (I used navy beans, which are not navy at all)
- 1/4 pound salted pork or bacon
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- salt and pepper, to taste
- mini ammo tins to serve, optional
Original recipe can be found Here.
Soak your beans in water overnight. The bigger pot you use, the better.
Boil beans in the morning in the same pot. You should also have another pot of boiling water ready for later. This was my setup:
Add baking soda to beans once they’re boiling. I don’t care how little baking soda you’re adding – do it gradually.
(For some reason, the file for the post-soda beans is corrupted. See that foamy stuff up there? That boiled up right to the brim. When this happens, just stir until it’s back to normal.) Drain beans.
Return beans to original pot and cover with boiling water. You know, the water that was boiling on the other burner the whole time. Cut your bacon finely…
And add it to the pot.
Simmer until beans are tender. Apparently this is why the recipe says to start in the morning, because this will take all day. I don’t even have a timeline for this. They’ll get done whenever they get done. Add more water if needed, but you probably won’t need it. Stir every so often to prevent sticking. Once that’s done, add ketchup, salt, and pepper to taste. Mine didn’t seem quite right so I added an extra half cup of ketchup.
Transfer beans to your bean pot. Let’s be realistic: this makes too damn many beans. Use a dutch oven. It all works.
Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees F. I learned this is called a ‘moderate oven’ and I will never be using this terminology again. If it’s a little watery, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Allow to cool and scoop into little ammo tins.
So there you have it: Bullets in a Pot. Let me be the first to tell you, these do not taste completely amazing. But for old wartime food, well, I’d say they’re not too bad. If you don’t care about historical accuracy I’d say to add an extra cup of ketchup (you know, on top of the extra half cup I’d already added), brown sugar, and a drizzle of maple syrup. And put the whole damn pound of bacon in, fried up first then broken up into the beans at the ketchup stage. (At least I didn’t do the Goldfish Loaf. Who ever thought a loaf of canned salmon would be a good thing?! Seriously, you’re welcome.) Coming Up Next: Chilled Strawberry Soup Health Potion. I had this soup 15 years ago when my family went on a Disney cruise. Yes, you just heard me say I’ll be using an official Disneyworld recipe. If I’m raving about soup I had in 2000 you know it has to be damn good soup. Cheers, Leisel