Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1940s party food

I read Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald some time last year and noted down some food quotations from the book to post on my book blog, but then I though they would be better suited to this blog. Here are some of her hilarious descriptions of 1940s party food. I can’t imagine any of it being good. Edibility may have been an optional extra in some cases.

…I looked and looked at my salad trying to guess what it was. When it could not be avoided any longer I took a bite and it was tuna fish and marshmallows and walnuts and pimento (just for the pretty colour, our hostess explained later when she was giving up the recipe) and chunks of pure white lettuce and boiled dressing. I almost gagged, both Anne and Joan nudged me and giggled, but most of the other ladies shrieked ‘delicious!’ ‘heavenly!’ and ‘so different!’ (‘different’ was quite right) and so the beaming hostess gave us the recipe…

It was at another baby shower that I first encountered a ring mould of mushroom soup, hardboiled eggs, canned shrimps (that special brand that taste like Lysol) and lime Jello, the centre heaped with chopped sweet pickles, the whole topped with a mustardy-sweet salad dressing.

An evening party during elections produced casual refreshments of large, cold, slightly sweet hamburger buns spread with relish, sweet salad dressing, dried beef and cheese, then whisked under the broiler just long enough to make the cheese gummy and the relish warm.

At another shower (wedding I believe) we were served tuna fish chow mein with rancid noodles. A garden club meeting, creamed tuna fish and peanuts over canned asparagus. A hospital group dredged up a salad of elbow macaroni, pineapple chunks, Spanish peanuts, chopped cabbage, chopped marshmallows, ripe olives and salad dressing.

I could go on and on ad nauseam and not even scratch the surface of the desserts which veer towards you ‘just take a devil’s food cake, make a filling of whipped cream, peanut brittle, chocolate chips and custard … and freeze’. I don’t know what is happening to the women of America but it ought to be stopped.

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