Reviving Reviled Repasts

Inspired by those cheerful and enterprising folks who re-create dishes of the long ago, amazing people like Ken Albala, I decided to also boldly go into kitchens of the past with a few trusty implements and oils. However, I am a little braver than your average culinary historian: I’m going into the most reviled era in food history–the revolutionary period from about 1910 to 1980 when so many of the packaged goods that are decried by food intelligentsia were created, celebrated, and beloved. Why do I want to cook and eat all the things that I have been told Julia Child saved us from? I’m doing it because I want to know–from experience–what the most popular flavors were in that vital era in American history, the textures and techniques that made the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and the Good Housekeeping Cookbook two of the best selling books of their time. If it makes sense to listen to the music of an era, read its novels and look at its paintings, doesn’t it make sense to taste its food? I’m rolling my fork up in a napkin and taking an open-minded approach, remembering always–I’m here to taste, not to judge.

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