Monday, December 28, 2009

Home Cooking 30 Years Ago

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 8:03 AM

click to enlarge A page from the second-grade cookbook from Oak Hill school,  about 1971.
  • A page from the second-grade cookbook from Oak Hill school, about 1971.

Unearthed here at the West side branch of the Smithsonian is this uh, cultural document of Southern suburban eating habits of the mid-twentieth century.

Eight typed, mimeographed pages of family recipes from second-graders provide a glimpse at the cooking repertoire of Nashville circa 1970. Every page has a spaghetti recipe and either a chuck roast, mac-and-cheese or tuna casserole recipe. One kid's mom evidently overlooked or ignored "Look What's Cooking, Mom" subtitle (either something kids love or something they can cook themselves) and sent in recipes for chilled artichokes with hollandaise and lobster thermidor. There's one in every bunch.

One family let its freak flag fly by submitting a recipe for Indian Curry and Orange Rice. Wild and crazy times in Oak Hill.

It all made me wonder how long, in decades, it takes for technology, grocery supplies and travel to completely change a society's repertoire of regularly served dishes. Our parents didn't eat souse, cornmeal mush or hominy as often as their parents did, and our generation doesn't serve liver or tuna casserole any longer.

It's hard to imagine a day when macaroni-and-cheese will seem old-fashioned, but maybe in 70 years, my daughter will say to her grandchildren, "Yep, back in my day, our moms served us mac-and-cheese twice a week, and it was on every restaurant menu." And they will look at her as if she had two heads.

What dish was a a regular in your childhood home, or grandparents' home, that is absent from yours and how do you explain it?

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