How We Ate In The 60s

Cookbooks are sorts of time capsules. Open one from a previous era, and comb through old recipes to find evidence of what the people who came before me cooked.

So when I heard talk swirling around the interwebs of a cookbook dedicated to a decadent recreation of the 60’s, I was excited to scan the cookbook in search of what my predecessors ate - and how.

In the case of the late 60’s gourmet aesthetic of the Galloping Gourmet, otherwise known as Graham Kerr, with his steadfast commitment to opulence, what roused my interest was perusing the cookbook to see what a Jewish intellectual might be tempted to consume in the 60’s, in between bouts of heated academic arguments and protests for the rights of union workers and the proletariat.

In his heyday, Kerr practiced “hedonism in a hurry” creating dishes with obscene amounts of butter, sugar and deep frying. Then he embarked on a 23-year quest to seek out healthier modes of eating. But that isn’t my area of interest. My interest is in the early days, the wine fueled benders, the leaping with violent abandon around the kitchen, scattering ingredients and cooking implements along the way, liberally sprinkling sugar, salt and fat on top of everything and the practice of consuming every meal like it was your last.

I came upon three recipes in this comprehensive, comforting text that could serve as divine delights at a literary salon in Greenwich Village or as a casse-croûte to nibble on while you absentmindedly thumb the pages of the Talmud while awaiting the arrival of your muse.

The glossy modern shots of food we’ve grown accustomed to play truant in this book, which is just as well, as it allows me to project all my fevered emotions about not being a Leftist revolutionary through the book’s recipes without feeling intimidated by the particular magnificence of Oriental Bay Pancakes (p. 153) or a Fillet Steak Paddy (p.111).

Without further ado, here are some of the things our intellectual forebears might have eaten, and some things you may consume in pathetic imitation of them:

New Yorker Onion Sandwich

RECIPE TO PRODUCE 2 PORTIONS

Ingredients 4 rounds Brown bread

1 tbsp. Mayonnaise

4 thin Onion slices

To season - Salt, black pepper

2 slices tomato

To garnish - Parsley

METHOD OF PREPARATION

Slice onion —

Cut rounds of bread —

Slice tomato.

SERVING Serve as savories with vodka-based creations.

At heart this is a dish that everyone enjoys except those with ulcers and those who have a romantic meeting with someone who isn’t at the party.

  1. Lightly spread the bread with mayonnaise.

  2. Place the onion slices on one slice of bread and season. Sandwich bread together.

  3. Spread edges of bread with mayonnaise—roll in parsley.

  4. Decorate with slice of tomato and sprig of parsley.

Chicken Pepper Pot

RECIPE TO PRODUCE 4 PORTIONS

Ingredients

1 Roast chicken carcass

1 small Onion

3 Cloves

1 Bay leaf

1 sprig Lemon thyme

1 small Carrot

10 cups Water

1 Egg white

1 stalk Celery

1 Green bell pepper

METHOD OF PREPARATION

Peel onion and stick with cloves — Peel and finely slice carrot — Shred celery and green pepper very finely.

SERVING

Best when served with hot whole-wheat rolls and butter.

  1. Cover carcass with 10 cups water, add onion and herbs and simmer 4 hours. Boil down to 2½ cups; remove fat.

  2. Clarify with whipped egg white.

  3. Add shredded vegetables and simmer until just tender.

  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

RECIPE TO PRODUCE 4 PORTIONS

Ingredients

3 ½ lb. Chicken

Bouquet Garni

1 sprig Thyme

1 sprig Rosemary

1 sprig Sage

1 Bay leaf

2 Parsley stalks

1 small Celery stick

7/8 cup Olive oil

40 Garlic cloves (unpeeled)

To season - Salt, black pepper

To garnish - Parsley

3 tbsp. Butter

Flour & Water Dough

2 cups Flour (all purpose)

1 tbsp. Salt

To dampen – Water

METHOD OF PREPARATION

Cut wings off chicken at the breastbone and dry thoroughly — Tie herbs together with long length of string — Preheat oven to 350° F — Make flour and water dough by mixing flour with salt and then adding enough cold water to make soft dough — With floured hands make a dough ring — Cut parsley finely.

SERVING

As a main course accompanied by a salade Niçoise and a light fruity red wine.

  1. Cover the base of a frying pan with olive oil and when hot add garlic cloves and bouquet garni. Toss in the oil and allow cloves to sweat gently for 2 minutes. Remove garlic cloves to an ovenproof casserole and place bouquet garni inside chicken.

  2. In the oil remaining in the pan place the chicken and turn to brown lightly all over. Season chicken and then place chicken on top of the bed of garlic. Add more olive oil. Place the lid on the casserole and seat with the flour and water dough. Cook in 350° F oven for 1½ hours.

  3. When cooked, remove lid and dough—cut off chicken legs and then cut off backbone in one slice. Next, remove the bones from the breast and cut the breast in two. Remove all the outer skin from each “quarter.” Cover with finely chopped parsley. Heat the fresh butter until foaming and pour over parsleyed chicken. Serve immediately.

Reproduced from The Galloping Gourmet by Graham Kerr with permission from the copyright holders Rizzoli New York.

Shira Feder is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at feder@forward.com

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