Food from the 1960's gets a bad rap because, well, for the most part, it's just bad. We're talking overly wrought recipes made with bland, over processed ingredients (canned cocktail weenies, anyone?), strange combinations of foods that aren't popular anymore for a reason, and an ungodly ubiquitous little something called an aspic (shudder). So when I pondered what I wanted to to do for Mad Men week on this here blog (besides go out for a mid-week martini lunch), I was just a little cautious when I cracked open my vintage (copyright 1963) Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks. Despite exhaustingly hauling these books with my book collection move after move (sorry mom and dad and everyone else who has ever helped me move), I've never had a desire to make even one of the recipes. I figured it was time to give them another chance. As I remembered, lots of unsavory usual suspects were there: Limas and Franks, Surprise Meat Slices, Tomato Soup Dressing, and Baked Prune Whip - these are all very real recipes. On her good days, these are the dinners that pre-divorce Betty Draper was setting out for Don. Scary stuff, right?
Winter Garden Loaf. This happened.
It wasn't all bad. I can appreciate an underrated ambrosia now and then and many of the desserts were far from revolting. However, it was the chapter "Meals Men Like" in So-Good Meals that really caught my eye. Not surprisingly, it included meat, alot of meat. Passing on the Mushroom Pot Roast, Ranch Ribs and Old-time Beef Stew, I zeroed in on the uncreatively named but promising "Sweet-potato Balls" which are meant to be served with a glazed ham. Not a glazed ham kind of gal, I decided to whip some up to have along with a light dinner but they turned out to be such a treat, I'd imagine they'd also be a really fun appetizer or cocktail party food. Mad Men premiere party on Sunday, anyone?
If you're looking for more ideas for very edible 60's cooking, look into picking up the well-reviewed Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook. If you're still curious about the many depths of dubious 60's dishes, don't miss a favorite Tumblr of mine, aspics and other delights. And since no 60's cocktail party is complete without a well-made Old-Fashioned, check out this week's New York Times article on the history of Don Draper's drink of choice (which dates back to the Civil War, who knew?).