What foods do you remember?
Monday, February 22, 2010
I am currently researching food in the 1960s, particularly in America, for a book that is being put together about Mad Men. I have been trawling the Internet for favoured recipes of the decade and what food was regarded as new and exotic. There are really some brilliantly informative sites out there if you want to go looking. Retro Food Recipes at www.retrofoodrecipes.com/ was especially good with such memory jogging favourites as avocados with prawns, prawn cocktail, brandy snaps, caramelised oranges, chicken kiev, chicken maryland, chicken & mushroom vol au vents, creme brulee and lemon souffle. Although I wasn't born in the 60s (just missed it), my parents were still serving these dishes at their dinner parties into the 70s. How I hated avocados! "You'll like them when you're a grown-up", my mother would tell me (she was right). Chicken & mushroom vol au vents were more in my line and my mother would make them with salmon too. And I still have the dish that my grandma always made her famed creme brulee in. It's not that any of this food was particularly brilliant - though it's hard to tell when viewed through the tastebuds of a five year-old - rather it's food nostalgia. Avocado with prawns takes me back to our kitchen circa 1976, watching my mother in her long, green 70s evening dress, putting the final touches to each dish before the guests arrived. The creme brulee transports me to all of us sitting around my grandparents' kitchen table circa 1978 at our weekly Sunday lunch. Of course, we realise now that a lot of the food of this era was often full of chemicals (think 'Tang'!) and cooked almost exclusively in butter (or dripping - ewww!). So we mostly eat differently now. But one bite of any of those dishes is like a trip in a time machine. It's not the food itself, but the memory.