Let me explain... I have long been fascinated by food, and food in history. Whilst studying for my degree in Greek and Roman Studies I was fortunate enough to be able to take a course entitled 'Food in Antiquity' run by an expert in this field, and my interest has expanded from there. More recently I have developed a penchant for collecting 'retro' cookbooks. I scour flea markets and antique shops and have been lucky enough to turn up some real treasures. I am fascinated by the gastronomic cultures of the last few decades, and these books provide me with endless hours of interest and amusement. Finding myself at a loose end yesterday afternoon (well, actually trying to find important-things-to-do in order to avoid filling in my tax-return), I decided to revisit some of my favourite titles and thought I would share some classic moments with you (thus avoiding the tax return for a little while longer...).
Well, that would certainly give most people yet another reason to detest brussel sprouts...
And for dessert:
Hilarious on SO many levels!
Picked up on my recent visit to New York City, 'Casserole Cookery' is another classic of its time. A common theme in many of my 1950s and 60s recipe books is that the kitchen is the domain of the woman. As you can see from the proud statement on this cover, the ability to cook a casserole is clearly an important part of the 'Vanderbilt Success Program for Women'.
I love the way that products that we today regard as 'trashy' feature so highly in these books. Staying with the Casserole Cookery, feast your eyes on this beauty:
Kraut and Frankfurter Tahitian... guaranteed a spot on the table at my next dinner party!
Babs is actually following a well-trodden path here, connecting food with love as cultures have done since the beginning of time - the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, gave her name to the word 'aphrodisiac'.
Is this the real reason behind Rob's reluctance to embrace vegetarianism?! (See previous blog entry).
A chance visit to a second-hand book fair whilst in Halifax, Nova Scotia, last year turned up yet another classic - 'Modern Canadian Cooking'. This book is helpfully divided into chapters so that the hostess can find assistance in every social situation. To where else would the mother of a banjo-playing 'teen-ager' turn when planning a 'Go-Go-Go evening' for the local youth?
And in the 'Black Tie Preludes' chapter... there are those 'franks' again, this time elevated from mere casserole to 'Franks in Jelly' (redcurrant, in case you're wondering) for the perfect canape creation. Thoughtful and ingenious, I'm sure you'll agree.
A typical dish of the 1950s appears to have been the savoury jello salad. Quite who thought that vegetables suspended in fruit-flavoured jelly would be an appealing supper dish I'm not quite certain, but suffice to say that it's not a practice that has survived the passing of the decades. Even the thought of it makes me feel rather ill...
I'll finish with perhaps my favourite retro recipe of all time; the Novelty Meat Square. The name says it all, but what swings it for me is the phrase 'an interesting chili sauce meringue'. Now why have none of these modern chefs incorporated the savoury meringue into their best-selling cookbooks? I can't imagine.
Well, I'm off now to saute some brussel sprouts in Budweiser, and whip up a quick tomato and mushroom jello as a starter. And you never know, perhaps this will be the week that I finally get round to making that Novelty Meat Square? I'll expect you all round for supper next weekend!