Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What went horrifically wrong

...with cookery in the decades leading up to, say, 1990? How did anybody survive on meat jello and radish roses? It's been discussed by a lot of other people round the web, starting with James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food and the godawful Weight Watchers recipe cards including Fluffy Mackerel Pudding. But there's no such thing as too many blog posts featuring culinary atrocities of yesteryear, so I'll jump right in with a few of my own.

My local Goodwill, quite apart from supplying me with designer clothes at ludicrously low prices, is a ready source of Awful Retro Cookbooks. Some of these are pretty staid and uninteresting (put glop in pan, add cream-of soup, bake) and some of them are the product of a diseased mind.

Let's play "Identify the Foodstuff."

Gulf oil spill, lava, liposuction products? Assuming this is meant to be edible, is the substrate a bread, or cake, or vegetable, or meat?

It's fruity.

How about this:

Really bad frog sculpture or microscopic shot of Staph aureus? I'd go for the latter.

It's ever-fancy.

Or this:

A friend of mine had hoped that this was bread. It's not. It's flavorful.

Some of these are from the Better Homes & Gardens Creative Cooking Library Best Buffets book. I don't know how much of this can be chalked up to the fact that people in the 70s apparently had limited perception of colors--perhaps some of these dishes might look less terrifying if they weren't so luridly oversaturated--but I think this is evidence that Batman villains were running the BH&G show. This gem also offers us Meat Balls with French Cream, an obvious attempt to encourage consumption of horse dung, Split Wieners and Impaled Cartoon Eyeballs under the stern glare of a pair of sentinel salt-and-pepper shakers, and whatever the hell this is. I'm particularly taken with the continued horse-dung theme in the pan of conjoined bread rolls at the top, which also suggests frog eggs. You see what I mean about color.

Also, it's nice that the Best Buffets authors took men's unique needs into consideration with a Bachelors' Feast featuring Deviled Bones and Neiman-Marcus Apple Pie, but I have to wonder about this guy, who is clearly dismembering a corpse. He's just jacked Mr. Rogers' cardigan, too. Not the type of Bachelor a woman really wants.

I leave you with the image of strife-torn Bolivia, this week on Storage Jars.


  1. I didn't think it was possible to beat out some of the recipes I've seen over the years, but that does it. Especially the Fluffy Mackerel Pudding. Those three words should never be combined. O_o

  2. Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.
    Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.

    I think that does for sleep for a day or three. Certainly for eating.