Obviously, I can never turn off my proofreading impulses because the first thing I thought about this recipe was that the “a” in “a la Milanese” was missing an accent grave. But the point of this blog, thank God, is not to nitpick the foreign spelling errors of turn-of-the-century newspaper printers who probably didn’t have access to diacritical typesets.
What is more interesting as well as characteristic of most printed recipes pre-1940 is that there is no list of ingredients nor standard measurements (saltspoonful?) nor very specific instructions. You’ll also notice the entire concept is based on the supposition you already have at least two cups of mashed potatoes on hand. (Btw, this dish is one of many I would like to recreate, but first I will have to figure out the proper oven setting, which is also not mentioned.)
“A La Milanese,” as you might have guessed, means “in the style of Milan,” and in a culinary context refers generally to a type of cooking common to the Lombardy region of Italy. This is why perhaps in modern recipes the descriptor is usually spelled out in Italian (“alla Milanese”) rather than in some convoluted French transliteration.
Although Lombardy cuisine more often features rice as its staple starch, this recipe is all about the potato. This feature, in addition to the fact that internet searches of “eggs a la milanese” and “eggs alla milanese” yield few results (which don’t at all resemble this dish) make me sorta think some pseudo-cosmopolitan cook made it up and sent it in to the paper.
But that’s neither here no there, really, because Eggs A La Milanese certainly seems from the description and the ingredients like it would taste okay, bland maybe good considering the liberal amounts of butter, egg, and cream. Even more importantly, it attracted the attention of the author(s) of TotUG. Maybe living in Iowa she longed for a taste of the Mediterranean and thus a food influenced by or deriving from an exotic place like Milan was extremely appealing.
Or maybe she didn’t give a hoot about Italian food and was just looking for a way to get rid of some mashed potatoes.