The Mid Century Menu, as seen in cookbooks and brochures
March 17, 2015 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever looked at a recipe in a mid-century cookbook and thought, “Ew. That is so nasty.” But you couldn’t stop looking at the recipe. Or thinking about it. As time went on, you kept going back to the book, thinking, “I wonder what it tastes like?” Then the Mid-Century Menu is for you. And so is: Barbecue Bean Jello Mold. Spaghetti Subs. Candied Crackers. Oh, and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

RetroRuth and her husband (or a guest blogger) pick one recipe a week, photograph the cooking process and the end results, do a taste test, and report back. Sometimes the dishes are good. Sometimes they are horrifying.
posted by julen (61 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure if I can ever unseen the spaghetti sub.
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:52 AM on March 17, 2015


Candied Crackers is just Saltine Toffee with graham crackers instead of Saltines.
posted by zinon at 5:53 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


They all look they went through some kind of culinary Instagram filter. (the foods, not the photos of the foods)
posted by condour75 at 5:59 AM on March 17, 2015


That poor bastard. He's the sad etsy boyfriend of food blogs.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:01 AM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure if I can ever unseen the spaghetti sub.

I thought spaghetti sandwiches were a staple of non-upper-class childhood. Not all fancy like this, more just leftover spaghetti and sauce between two pieces of wonderbread. Maybe my friends were just weird?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Like many things here, I think Cracked did a list of these.
posted by Melismata at 6:05 AM on March 17, 2015


I don’t know if you know this, but plain gelatin smells like Satan’s own hot breath rising up from the bowl in which you’re mixing. That, mixed with an abattoir

Huh? Is this a super-smeller thing? I've never noticed plain gelatin having any particular odor.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:06 AM on March 17, 2015


As messed up as the present day is I'm sure glad I don't have to live in the 1950s.
posted by Abon Sapi at 6:06 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I knew before clicking that the St Patrick's Day one would involve corned beef, despite the fact that it is so not a thing here at all. If someone served me that, they'd be wearing it by the time they got to "Hap..."
posted by billiebee at 6:08 AM on March 17, 2015


Some things are much better when the Japanese make them. But you can always make your own.
posted by BinaryApe at 6:10 AM on March 17, 2015


Sometimes they are horrifying.

So I'm trying to figure how exactly this could go so badly. Minus the gelatin, it's basically tuna salad with shrimp instead of the tuna. I feel like I need to try this just to see how bad it is.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:18 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


What lead the obsession with molds? Was that something trendy restaurants were doing a decade previously that filtered to mainstream American conciouness? Did it have something to do with food supply chains, and a prevalence of canned food over fresh ingredients?
posted by codacorolla at 6:19 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is THAT why my school kept trying to serve us their canned industrial spaghetti and meatlike product in hotdog buns for all those years? I just thought they were trying to pass it off as a sloppy joe to kids who didn't know any better. Both are gross, but jeeesh.
posted by strixus at 6:20 AM on March 17, 2015


Another site that covers horrible mid-century recipes is James Lileks' The Gallery of Regrettable Food.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I knew before clicking that the St Patrick's Day one would involve corned beef, despite the fact that it is so not a thing here at all. If someone served me that, they'd be wearing it by the time they got to "Hap..."

Go to Metafilter Projects, Max Sparber will agree with you.
posted by Thing at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure glad I don't have to live in the 1950s

One ordinary executive job paid for a nice house with a full complement of modern electrical appliances, car and family, and all the spaghetti subs you could eat. Apart from the constant threat of instant obliteration in a searing nuclear explosion, it wasn't so bad.
posted by Segundus at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


As messed up as the present day is I'm sure glad I don't have to live in the 1950s.

We had a saying back then: "As crazy as a Kraft recipe." And now you know why. The newspapers and magazines were full of these evil concoctions. Fortunately my mom was locked firmly into her Depression-era Georgia farm girl cuisine...
posted by jim in austin at 6:37 AM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh god, my mom's cookbooks! I suspect the obsession with putting everything, and I mean everything in a jell-o mold was the idea of making super modern atomic-age space food! Or something. Maybe they were all drunk. People seem to have drunk a hell of a lot more back then.

And I think a big part of the problem was color film and photo reproduction processes of the time. I'm pretty sure you could source the ingredients and actually make some of those dishes and they still wouldn't look remotely as horrific as they did in those photos...
posted by Naberius at 6:40 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't have to read very far into the fish mold piece to figure how it turned out; there were plenty of MAD Magazine and old sitcom parodies of the dish to inform me that some things are indeed worse than holiday fruitcake.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:43 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh my. Monday night in my household was my mom trying out the recipes from the Sunday Parade magazine newspaper supplement. Watching Dad squirm and eat to demonstrate to us kids that it wasn't as shitty as we thought was priceless.

I know there does not seem to be the love for spaghetti on a bun, but let me tell you that spaghetti tacos rock (from esteemed cook Betty Crocker herself!)
posted by 724A at 6:44 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had the idea recently to open my mid-century Better Homes & Garden cookbook at random and make whatever it landed on. So I opened up the book, and saw this, and then closed it and put it back on the shelf.
posted by something something at 6:48 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe it was a subversive expression of female rage. My creativity is confined to homemaking? Eat this, motherfuckers.
posted by thelonius at 6:49 AM on March 17, 2015 [36 favorites]


724A: "let me tell you that spaghetti tacos rock (from esteemed cook Betty Crocker herself!)"

Spaghetti Tacos are actually from esteemed television weirdo brother Spencer from iCarly.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2015


Segundus: "all the spaghetti subs you could eat"

I might prefer the nuclear devastation.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I almost always eat my leftover spaghetti in sandwich form.
posted by eamondaly at 7:05 AM on March 17, 2015


Makes me want to make a spaghetti sub that's actually tasty and not a total carb-bomb.

I'm thinking garlicy bread, with a buttery crisp inside. Warm marinara and meatballs. So far that's just a meatball sub, but then raw zuchinni noodles just barely sauteed in a little olive oil, to give a hint of that why-is-there-pasta-in-here mouth-feel.

Something along those lines..
posted by joeyh at 7:16 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of the 1950s Housewife Experiment.
posted by Monochrome at 7:17 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not all fancy like this, more just leftover spaghetti and sauce between two pieces of wonderbread. Maybe my friends were just weird?

Wonderbread was for the rich kids - I had to have crappy generic white bread. But still, yeah, mom would totally make sandwiches out of the leftovers and send them to school with us kids the next day.

I knew dad got called back to work when we got bologna and actual sliced cheese and not just chunks of government cheese and home made venison sausage.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:18 AM on March 17, 2015


So, I bet if that BBQ bean mold were titled "Poblano-infused aspic of organic Oaxacan pintos and heirloom alicante tomato puree," but looked *exactly* the same, foodies would fight each other for a taste.

(But then I grew up in the 60-70s and was pretty much raised on this kind of "recipes clipped from ladies' magazines" food.)
posted by aught at 7:19 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


When it comes to anything inexplicable that happened between 1920 and 1970, I'm going to go ahead and blame lead. Between the lead paint and leaded gas, it's a wonder anyone made it out of that era with their brain intact.

And if I was poor and trying to make food stretch, I don't know why using Jell-O would improve it. Aside from being disgusting, that stuff isn't remotely filling. It's only good for children's desserts and Jell-O shots.
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


What the hell is 'leftover spaghetti'? (So hungry rn)
posted by Space Kitty at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


So, I bet if that BBQ bean mold were titled "Poblano-infused aspic of organic Oaxacan pintos and heirloom alicante tomato puree," but looked *exactly* the same, foodies would fight each other for a taste.

(But then I grew up in the 60-70s and was pretty much raised on this kind of "recipes clipped from ladies' magazines" food.)


Yeah, this struck me the same way. This is someone trying to combine Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food with Julie & Julia. Which isn't such a bad idea if they actually got the point. Before Julia Child, cooking was like this, unless you had servants who could devote their time exclusively to cooking. And a lot "ladies' magazines food" was attempting to dress up canned foods. Variety, quality, and even sometimes availability of food was often limited. I didn't really get this until I heard my mom (who grew up in the post-Depression era) talking about how when she was a kid, people swapped recipes about how to dress up the limited foods that were actually available. Then one day canned pineapple started showing up in stores during the wintertime. Well that explains all the awful Pinapple Upside-Down Cakes we had during the 60s and 70s.

When it comes to anything inexplicable that happened between 1920 and 1970, I'm going to go ahead and blame lead. Between the lead paint and leaded gas, it's a wonder anyone made it out of that era with their brain intact.

And lead soldered tin cans.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh my goodness, yes. I love sites about this, and you've just made my day with this one.

There is a really interesting and well written history book out there called Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Lauren Shapiro. For those of you who are interested in learning how food got so processed and recipe-making during the 50s and 60s got so strange (and Jello-filled!), it might be a cool read. There's a lot in there about why housewives got so excited about premade food, but also how burgeoning processed food corporations started marketing their products and getting some of them established in the US mainstream.
posted by sciatrix at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


The thing is, everyone is all always "lol fifties food", but several things occur to me:

1. Food distribution was insanely different in the fifties. The whole "almost everyone in any kind of semi-urban area has access to a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, sauces and other ingredients" thing is a nineties thing. Even when I was growing up in the eighties in a middle class suburb, you bought garlic bulbs in a little box, for instance. And if you wanted apples that weren't Red Delicious, yeah, good luck with that unless you lived in apple-growing country.

2. Food culture was way different through the early eighties and only then began to take on its present shape. It was difficult to find out how to cook "ethnic" foods if you weren't from that particular background, for instance. I was just looking at a Greek cookbook that my parents bought in the seventies, and while everything looks (and from what I remember from childhood was) perfectly tasty, not only does it lean really heavily on US replacements for things we can access easily now, but it also assumes a lack of familiarity with a lot of cooking techniques and it assumes that people are much less interested in "authentic" food than in food that fits well with what they're already eating.

3. It was really the travel booms of the prosperous fifties and sixties (and the strong dollar and the need for tourist money in post-war Europe) - yes, the reviled decades of the Sunset cookbooks - that, IMO, paved the way for improved access to ingredients and recipes. Consider what MFK Fisher and James Beard and all those people were doing - traveling around mostly to Western Europe and learning like crazy. All that stuff diffuses out in the seventies to hippies and yuppies and reaches critical mass in the eighties.

4. If people are writing this kind of book in 2050 and we aren't all living in a fascist, global-warmed hellhole, they will no doubt point to Paula Deen and to the weird flavors of grocery store cookies and crackers and get similar lulz out of how "we" all ate weird stuff, didn't know what was good, etc etc. ("Birthday Cake" flavored oreos, sour-strawberry sugar cookies, etc.)

5. I actually made the most delicious fifties cocktail party thing some years ago - it's not vegan, so be warned, and I can't find the original comedy "lol fifties" site where I got it, but it was so good: olives baked in pastry. And I just used grocery store ingredients, olives from a jar, cheddar from a perfectly ordinary block of cheddar.
posted by Frowner at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


I love Buzz's t-shirt in the pineapple pie post.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2015


(Also, pre-packaged foods were a Thing far before I had originally realized - pimento cheese, for example, dates back to the late 19th century and is the result of improved canning and distribution of pimentos. But there's lots of twenties and thirties food that is just as dressed-up-convenience as the fifties - it just appeared before color photography was the norm in magazines and isn't as entertaining to reproduce.)
posted by Frowner at 8:02 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Go to Metafilter Projects, Max Sparber will agree with you.

Heck, I'll quote myself here:

It is, of course, one of the things that Irish people turn their noses up at, declaring it evidence that Irish-Americans aren’t really Irish, because nobody in Ireland ever eats the stuff. Every year in March newspapers run the same article questioning whether corned beef and cabbage is actually Irish, and coming to the same conclusion, year after year after year: No it isn’t. It’s an Irish-American invention.

Yes it is, and so what. So much fuss over a little bit of meat and greens ...

There is a theory I have heard kicked about that because corned beef in Ireland was made for export, it was seen as a luxury item, but in the United States it was plentiful and inexpensive, and so Irish immigrants immediately started gobbling the stuff up, living like kings in the new land on food they could scarce afford in Ireland.

posted by maxsparber at 8:11 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


What lead the obsession with molds? Was that something trendy restaurants were doing a decade previously that filtered to mainstream American conciouness?

While I'm not a culinary anthropologist, I believe the answer to your question is basically "yes." Earlier in the 20th century, molded aspic dishes were considered extremely fancy and a standard course for ritzy dinner parties. (I always mention the 1933 movie "Dinner at Eight" for this, where an aspic molded to look like a British lion appears, and its loss when it falls on the floor causes the lady of the house to completely lose her shit.)

(See also Julia Child's original "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" which has a whole chapter on aspic, including a recipe for making it yourself from scratch. You boil calves' feet.)

Jell-o is essentially shortcut aspic, putting the fancy molded dish within reach of the everyday homemaker.
posted by dnash at 8:11 AM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I knew before clicking that the St Patrick's Day one would involve corned beef, despite the fact that it is so not a thing here at all. If someone served me that, they'd be wearing it by the time they got to "Hap..."

I've read that corned beef is an Irish-American thing, and originated as substitute for Irish bacon they couldn't get here. Poor immigrants would boil the cheapest cuts of beef they could get. Kind of like "red sauce" for Italian Americans. So it's authentic for Irish-Americans, just not in the way people think it is.
posted by lunasol at 8:16 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


> So, I bet if that BBQ bean mold were titled "Poblano-infused aspic of organic Oaxacan pintos and heirloom alicante tomato puree," but looked *exactly* the same, foodies would fight each other for a taste.

Although the consistency would likely be just as appalling, that's a combination of ingredients that actually does sound much more appealing than the original recipe, which is basically a congealed tin of beans-in-barbecue-sauce poured into the alcohol-free part of a Bloody Mary.

But then I was born in central Europe in the 1980s and used to beg my father's English colleague to regale us with the tale of a certain mythical dish he'd sometimes have as a child, called ‘spaghetti on toast’ (the twist: it wasn't even spaghetti, it was a canned preparation of chopped-up pasta in sugary tomato sauce! can you imagine such a thing? now I live close to a Sainsbury's and they still stock that exact product, not that I've ever dared to try it).

In the mid-2000s we used to go (for special occasions) to the brunch buffet of a fancy casino on the French side of the border where many of the dishes harked back to the days before Nouvelle Cuisine, so they would have terrines moulded into the shape of the main ingredient, like a salmon terrine in the shape of a large fish. It never made any sense to me – is the presentation supposed to distract you from the fact that they're really just adulterating the fish? what? But there you are. I can only imagine that such dishes belong to a (mercifully) dead tradition that provided the pretext to the terrifying innovations promoted by your Jell-O manufacturers.

(on preview, dnash helpfully explains the actual history of moulded dishes)
posted by ormon nekas at 8:20 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh god, my mom's cookbooks! I suspect the obsession with putting everything, and I mean everything in a jell-o mold was the idea of making super modern atomic-age space food! Or something. Maybe they were all drunk. People seem to have drunk a hell of a lot more back then.

Go home, Jello. You're drunk.
posted by jonp72 at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


culinary anthropologist

I wanna be one. Maybe in the next life ...
posted by Melismata at 8:33 AM on March 17, 2015


Actually, I think aspics were a high-culture thing that became a low-culture thing - I don't have my books handy but if memory serves, you get a LOT of fancy aspics and moulded dishes in the 18th and 19th centuries on the tables of the great. Riz a l'imperatrice, for instance, which I'd really like to try.

I can't find the blog with a cursory google, but there were all these receipes in the 19th century where you would make a jelly and put it inside an aspic, or you'd make all these fancy moulded things that look like stained glass. Really, really elaborate moulds.

Blancmange, that same cursory google reveals, dates back to the Tudors and there are many, many pretty antique molds for it.

I think that Western/European-descended ideas about how food should look have really, really changed as fresh food has become more widely available to urban populations and as people have gained knowledge of more international food cultures. As recently as the early 19th century, you'd find people like Marie-Antoine Careme making all these elaborate sugar sculpture desserts for display and really not for eating (kind of like those elaborate fondants that you see on Cake Wrecks but more so.) Basically, we prioritize the "natural" look of the food most of the time, even when it's elaborately presented - salmon in aspic seems weird, and moulded rice pudding seems affected. Molecular gastronomy is really a return to the older tradition of trying to figure out novel and attractive food presentations.
posted by Frowner at 8:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


now I live close to a Sainsbury's and they still stock that exact product, not that I've ever dared to try it

You should! I'm not even joking, it's yummy on toast!
posted by billiebee at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Savory aspics are still offered on menus in France.
posted by brujita at 8:39 AM on March 17, 2015


Go home, Jello. You're drunk.

Yeah, well my paternal grandmother had a recipe - now lost, at least to our family - for something called "wine jello" Which according to my mom would put you on your ass before you knew what was happening if you weren't careful with it. Apparently the woman drank like a fish. She did spend much of her life managing the family liquor store.

(Just based on the name, I' m guessing wine jello wouldn't really be all that hard to rediscover. I assume it was basically jello with some or all of the water replaced with a cheap red wine. Perhaps some experimentation is in order.)
posted by Naberius at 9:02 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dunno these sorts of culinary adventures now tend to make me roll my eyes or at least sigh more than I used to. Partially it comes down to the fact that yeah gelatin became super cheap, was seen as a fancy food now available and people tend to like feeling fancy. I mean as mentioned above the way you made gelatin before was time consuming and gross, it wasn't exactly something available for quick use until powdered gelatin became available. So in that sense if you don't like aspic's or that texture, not a problem! But it's weird to make that stuff as representative of the cooking and then lol over how bad it is.

Plus recipe wise I don't know how that 'horrifying' one came out so bad. Maybe there was something wrong with her gelatin? I've certainly never had it smell like Satan's ass, it's unassuming so the fact that there was a problem there might be the cause? Otherwise I mean it's shrimp with thousand island dressing essentially. So yeah aspic has a texture, you don't have to like it, it's cool, I have friends who hate it, but if you hate yams, you're probably not going to like West African food. That's ok but at least acknowledge where the problem is.
posted by Carillon at 9:16 AM on March 17, 2015


Plus recipe wise I don't know how that 'horrifying' one came out so bad.

Yeah, looking at the recipe, unless one or more of the ingredients was actually off, that ought to taste perfectly o.k.

I wonder how her husband would have reacted if he'd been told nothing about the dish and had had it served spread on some sliced baguette or something, without seeing the rather ghastly-looking mold?

Gelatin can smell a bit iffy during preparation, but unless there's something horribly wrong you shouldn't be able to taste that in the finished product at all.
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on March 17, 2015


This is someone trying to combine Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food with Julie & Julia. Which isn't such a bad idea if they actually got the point.

I wish the site had a more systematic rating system where you could see if any of the recipes were... um... ya know... um... any good. It would also be interesting to see what would get the worst rating as the most regrettable of regrettable food.
posted by jonp72 at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2015


Earlier in the 20th century, molded aspic dishes were considered extremely fancy and a standard course for ritzy dinner parties.

I can testify to this myself. One time, my wife and I hosted a dinner party for a mutual friend, a woman who was in her 80s. Often, when you are cooking for the elderly, it's a good idea to make the flavors very strong, because sense of taste and the ability to recognize flavors recedes with age. Since our friend loves the taste of lemon, I decided to make a tomato aspic using lemon gelatin as a base. It proved to be the hit of the dinner party with our friend and its retro flavor was a major conversation starter with our guests too. So, if you're hosting a Mad Men party and you want something retro to serve, make a tomato aspic. They're better than you'd expect; just don't expect to find the right recipe in Better Homes & Gardens circa 1957.
posted by jonp72 at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vis-a-vis wine jello: it just so happens that at the bottom of this page are recipes for claret jello and rum punch jello. I mean, they're Victorian so they're called "jellies", but they're jello. IIRC my Victorian novels correctly, claret jelly was something strengthening that you'd send to an invalid.

Actually, I bet you could serve the Devonshire junket at the very bottom to great acclaim at any fancy hipster party - and I may try just that, substituting for the rennet of course.
posted by Frowner at 10:09 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love Buzz's t-shirt in the pineapple pie post.

I'm kind of in love with Buzz.

you would make a jelly and put it inside an aspic

Er, typo there? Aspic is jelly.

As for alcoholic gels, they're super fun to make, and pretty easy. Gelatine isn't always the best choice--agar agar is often better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The always-delightful Julia Reed on congealed salads, with a social history of gelatin, including:

Our fondness for jelled foods comes from the British, who began making molded ''jellies'' as early as medieval times, when artistic cooks decorated them with edible gold and silver. Techniques for making them weren't perfected until toward the end of the 18th century, when they became symbols of sophistication and status. No wonder. To make them was such a long and tedious process, only the wealthy could afford it. First, calves' feet and knuckles or hartshorn (deer antlers) were simmered in water for hours and allowed to cool, leaving a translucent jelly on the top. The jelly was further reduced by boiling, clarified with egg whites and flavored with everything from fruit and wine or cream to ground meat or nuts.

A typical example is ''The Duchess of Montague's Receipt to Make Hartshorn Jelly,'' from an 18th-century manuscript found at Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire. In it, the cook is advised to put in ''one Gallon of water half a pound of Hartshorn. Let them boyl slowly till the Liquor is a pretty strong Jelly, then strain it off and put in ... the peel of eight oranges and four lemons, cut very thin, boyl it a quarter of an hour, then put in the whites of 12 eggs ... the Juice of the Oranges and Lemons, and a pound and a quarter of double refined Sugar, boyl it a little and then strain it through a Flannell Bagg.''
posted by sobell at 11:16 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


For boozy jello, I recommend cheap champagne. It makes the jello bubbly and, like Naberius' mom warned, it will knock you on your ass.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 11:19 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a collector of 50s/60s/70s cooking pamphlets, I kind of resent the whole "regrettable food" aspect. I feel a little annoyed at people making fun of this stuff, my mom was quite proud of her jello salads and mushroom soup casseroles (I'll still occasionally make her chicken/rice/onion soup mix dish and it's really good, mostly because of the salt and MSG content). The salmon loaf (made in a fish-shaped mold, of course, with canned salmon) was not my favorite, though, but she only made that if she was having a fancy party.
posted by plasticpalacealice at 12:21 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The gelatin thing, I think--I mean, it's just presentation, really. Why do people now have such a fondness for sauces drizzled like Jackson Pollock paintings on the plate in quantities that cannot possibly have a serious impact on the taste of the food? Because that's how fancy restaurants on TV do it. No, I don't want a slice of cheesecake served on top of a spot you smeared raspberry sauce onto the plate, I want you to pour the stuff on the cheesecake, thank you. I'm not going to eat the plate, you know? In that context, molded gelatin doesn't seem that silly.
posted by Sequence at 12:42 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Segundus: "One ordinary executive job paid for a nice house with a full complement of modern electrical appliances, car and family, and all the spaghetti subs you could eat. Apart from the constant threat of instant obliteration in a searing nuclear explosion, it wasn't so bad."

A house that was probably less than 1000 sq ft (not that there is anything wrong with that, though remember no chemical birth control or legal abortion); appliances that didn't include microwaves for anyone with less than Rockefeller wealth (or probably a dishwasher); a car that lacked ABS, disc brakes, fuel injection, seat belts, FM radio, traction control and air bags that was pretty well guaranteed to kill you in an accident and was lucky to make it 100,000 miles; and a definition of family that excluded anyone who wasn't straight (or even of different races). I'll give you that spaghetti subs are kind of tasty.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I haven't considered the fish-shaped jello mold since the early 70's. What the heck did my Mom used to to make in that sucker? It was opaque colored and had solid bits and I believe it served as dessert; lost in the mist of time now.
posted by telstar at 12:57 PM on March 17, 2015


I find gelatinous textures in food completely revolting. I'm so glad Jell-O is out of fashion, and I hope this continues for the rest of my life. Though plain Jell-O isn't that bad, but Jell-O with stuff in it... barf

And remember, the 50's weren't so great if you were female, non-straight, non-white, or non-Christian. You probably weren't getting one of those executive jobs that could support a family if you fit into one of those categories, or at least you'd have a lot more trouble getting one.
posted by Anne Neville at 1:15 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Spaghetti subs live on in Japan as yakisoba pan. Available at any convenience store. Can't say I'm a fan, though.
posted by spreadsheetzu at 3:19 PM on March 17, 2015


Spaghetti subs live on in Japan as yakisoba pan. Available at any convenience store. Can't say I'm a fan, though.

Well of course not. The fried patties of yakisoba go on the outside of the sandwich, it replaces the bread. I think I first saw this at MOS Burger but it has been many years since then.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2015


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