I was a child of the 50's and 60's and I remember the "bad old days" of American cooking, before "ethnic" (as it was called back then) ingredients became every day staples in our supermarkets.
No mangoes. No jicama. No fresh water chestnuts. No salsa. At least, none in our local Bronx markets.
Back then, someone could publish directions for a "Honorable Chinese Dinner" and feel they weren't insulting one of the oldest cuisines in the world. (In all fairness, the article did compare the "art" of Chinese cooking to the "art" of carving fine jade.) Meanwhile, my introduction to "Chinese cooking" was the double decker cans of LaChoy Chow Mein - one can with the chow mein, and a can of crispy "chow mein" noodles that I sometimes made for dinner as a teen - before I discovered the joys of baking my own bread and cooking in a wok.
I love to look at old cookbooks - but the "Better Homes and Gardens Meals with a Foreign Flair" cookbook from 1963 a blogger recently wrote about shows just how much cooking in the United States has progressed.
In fact, there's a blog devoted to horrible cookbooks of the 40's, 50's and 60's. (You must read this blog, even if you weren't alive back in "those days" - you owe it to yourself). No wonder the residents of the United States didn't have a weight problem!
I don't want to insult the "home cooks" of the 50's and 60's who made genuine, "down home" food - including, in this area, spiedies and "hot pies" - just the commercial versions of what someone out there thought we should be eating.
So, my readers, it is true confession time. 'Fess up in the comments:
Did you eat Swanson's TV Dinners?
Did you make molded food with Knox Gelatin?
Or, worst of all - did your Mom serve you Miracle Margarine? (mine did)
Or, are you nostalgic for those days, perhaps because you never lived through them?