For Throw Back Thursday let’s look at the food of the 60’s and 70’s. This was a period of transition from the traditional food of the 1950’s, toward the leanings of the 80’s and 90’s toward higher end processed or gourmet foods. It was a time of meatloaf, green Jello salads, deviled eggs, Baked Alaska and tuna surprise. Indeed casseroles of any kind were big in the ’70s, mainly because there was very bad economy, and casseroles are a filling and cheap dinner option. There was also the woman’s lib movement of that period and helping women spend less time in the kitchen was the propertied goal of many processed foods that popped up during that time.
The 1970s were a raging mess for everyone except those with the most hardcore sense of denial. The music was good, but the hair, clothing, politics and everything else were a stain on history. The nation was torn between progressing to the next level, building upon the revolutionary ’60s, and taking a step backwards, trying to shoehorn itself back into the gee-whiz future envisioned in the ’50s.
The worst casualty of American life might have been the food. An entire cottage industry sprung up around the notion that housewives were fresh out of ideas for innovative meals that would delight and inspire their families. Test kitchens worked feverishly to outdo each other and the result was a culinary nightmare that lasted entirely too long.
While the food of the time might have generally been questionable, the following quotes from food writers show that there is a certain nostalgia for the seafood gelatin terrines of yesteryear. They were asked about their favourite dishes from back in the day.
Make-ahead layered salads. I think they were mixed for serving. I know a lot of retro recipes were pretty awful, but I remember that salad being decent. And it was about that time that Bisquick came out with all of their “impossible” pies where you threw everything in a pie dish and it layered itself while it baked. I recall being quite fond of the Impossible Taco Pie. — Donna Currie, author of the forthcoming Make Ahead Bread
The Bacardi Rum Cake. I swear my parents threw parties just to serve that cake. Also mini cherry cheesecakes — the kind that were made in small cupcake liners and topped with one canned cherry — were on lots of party trays. Oh, and how could I forget? Braunschweiger balls coated in a thin layer of cream cheese, sometimes studded with sliced green olives. — Pamela Braun of My Man’s Belly
Taco salad, which was big in the mid-1970s (at least in the Midwest). — Beth Fish of Beth Fish Reads
MONTE CRISTOS! I used to order them when Mom would take my brothers and me to Blum’s in downtown San Francisco, where we would eat Monte Cristo sandwiches followed by another fave, Coffee Crunch Cake. — Rick Rodgers, author of The Model Bakery Cookbook
Anything in a Crock-Pot — which was introduced in the early 70s! — Cynthia Graubart, author of Slow Cooking for Two
Our dear old Grandma had loads of recipes from the 60’s and 70’s on cards, and one of her go-to dishes from that period was Tamale Pie. Which is neither tamale, nor pie. It is basically chilli con carne with cornmeal and corn bits mixed into it, resulting in pure and simple deliciousness. Here is a recipe of that classic from Martha Stewart. Do you have any blast from the past recipe favourites?