L.L. Bean’s 100th Anniversary

This post combines two of my interests: garlic and mail order catalogs. The L.L. Bean Catalog is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The famous outdoor company was founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912 to promote his newly invested Maine hunting shoe (a.k.a. the “Bean boot”). The Bootmobile (pictured above) is driving into New York City today to promote the anniversary.

What they’re not saying is the company had an inauspicious beginning: Bean had to refund the money for ninety of the first one hundred boots sold when the soles separated from the tops. In 1951, Bean decided to keep the Freeport flagship open twenty-four hours and removed the locks from the doors. (I learned this while writing my first book, Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail Order Shopping. Shameless plug below.)

In 1983, the company published The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook edited by the great Judith Jones, best known as the woman who discovered Julia Child and edited Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The recipe below, from the book, is for Cioppino, an Italian fish stew made with ten cloves of garlic. This being L.L. Bean, it can be prepared over a campfire (or a stove).

Cioppino from The LL Bean Game & Fish Cookbook
½ c. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, diced
1 large green pepper, chopped
6-8 shallots, diced
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes with liquid
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 c. fish or shellfish stock (this can be a combination of oyster & clam juices- canned or prepared)
2 c. red wine
1 ½ t. salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
½ t. basil
½ t. oregano
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
3 lb. fish, filleted and cut into chunks
2 lb. small neck clams, mussels, or oysters – or all three. if using fresh shellfish reserve juices when steaming to use as juice in the stock.
1 lb. crabmeat
1 lb. shrimp, raw & shelled
4 T. chopped parsley

Serves 8-10

Prep vegetables, onions, fish, shrimp. If using fresh shellfish steam in small amount of liquid (about 1-2 cups) until shells opens. Reserve liquid.

In deep pot (8 quarts), heat the oil and sauté onions, garlic, green pepper, shallots, and mushrooms until the pepper is soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, fish stock (reserved liquid from shellfish) and wine and bring to a simmer. Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Add fish chunks and cook at a high summer until almost done, about 5 minutes.

Add crabmeat, shellfish, and shrimp and continue to simmer for another 3-5 minutes but not longer than it takes for the shrimps to turn pinkish.

Garnish with minced parsley and serve, in soup bowls with both spoons and forks and with thick slices of garlic bread.


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