Sunday, October 14, 2007

How Green Was My Roast Beef

I picked up a few more strange old cookbooks this week. The first one is not a frivolous little advertising piece, either; it's the "Good Housekeeping Cookbook" from 1963. The photography from these books is usually what attracts me first; the 60s weren't as bad as the 70s, where everything got very dark, with lots of brown (the paper really went down in quality, too). It's just that the colours were often a bit lurid. Still, it was before the angst of the hippy era, and everything still seemed to be riding that wave of Eisenhower-era prosperity and confidence.

So it was a bit of a shock to come across this picture:

This is NOT an Eisenhower salad. Not a Republican salad at all, as far as I can see. There are definite premonitions of the 70s in this picture. Look at the ghastly avocado green background. Actually, there doesn't seem to be a difference between background and foreground here; the still life almost seems to be floating in a green void. And that's not all - there's a bunch of green grapes at the top, along with a green check cloth. I guess this was to compensate for the fact that what's being pictured is actually a salad, but it has hardly any green in it at all.

The dark brown basket gives me 70s-era shudders, but it's not just the colour; the whole thing seems to be hinting at some sort of picnic, but the way the salad is served makes the whole idea ridiculous. Look at it, spilling out of a glass trifle bowl - you could never get this thing outside. If it were from the 70s, there would not be nearly as much meat in the picture, so that's a tipoff that it's from the 60s. (If it were during WWII, they probably would have used cold tongue, so at least we were spared that horror.)

If you thought the picture was bad, then look at the recipe:
Frozen green beans; canned carrots; frozen lima beans - yeah, party hearty, man. But it's the 3 lbs of roast beef that kills me, oozing with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing and a few flakes of dried herbs. No lettuce at all - hard to see why they call it a "salad". It doesn't say how many it serves, but I think it's 6; on the next page, it gives instructions for serving 8: "Double all ingredients but sirloin tip roast; for it use 4 lb. roast."


Blogger Dr. Alice said...


"A jug of rancid olive oil, a roast of beef/And thou beside me in the wilderness..."

It's just so romantic.

10:48 pm  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

I, too, shuddered but for a different reason. I guess filth is in the mind of the beholder but that loaf of bread sticking up in the back is lewdly suggestive, wouldn't you agree? I bet James Lileks would.

Premonitions of the 70s, indeed.

10:40 am  
Blogger Nicholodeon said...

Anhorrid! Anhorrid!

Combining the title reference with a pun from the film we all know and love.

2:03 pm  
Blogger muerk said...

That's a MAN salad... All meat. My husband and boys would love it (and ignore the vegetable pretense).

4:59 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Maybe that's why the recipe barely bothers with the vegetables; throw a few canned carrots and peeled turnips on it, who cares? The men will just eat the meat and ignore everything else anyway!

8:27 am  

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