one man's ceiling
Thursday, January 04, 2007
  bologna boats!
"dinner in 45 minutes? it's possible! the family will think you're a wonder -- and you are, with the help of skip-a-step mixes and canned foods, preparation pared to bare essentials, no-cook ingredients. still delicious? of course! try our wonderful recipes; invent your own --"

so beckons "meals in minutes" one of many books in the better homes and gardens "creative cooking library" titles from 1963. the post-war conversion from city living to urban sprawl was complete, the interstate highways nearly connected, and the idea of cooking wholesome, nutritious meals from scratch had been replaced by libraries full of shortcuts utilizing only the best that the agribiz had to offer. gone were the worries of picking the best cuts of meat or worrying over the ripeness and availability of produce. poof! canned meats with names that don't indicate contents, processed cheeses that require no refrigeration and fallout shelter-ready vegetables made these any-time meals in any part of the country.

i know my mom used recipes like this, if not some of these exact recipes. the following horror taken at random leaves a bad taste in my mouth just reading it.

burgers in bologna boats shape beef into 4 patties about the same size as bologna slices
grill lightly on greased griddle, turning once
sprinkle with salt and pepper
slip each patty onto bologna slice
grill till bologna is lightly browned and edges cup around patty
top with lattice of cheese strips
spread bottom half of toasted buns with mustard
top with patties, prop bun tops on edge to show off pretty lattice
offer catsup, pickle relish, and burger relish
serves 4

show off pretty lattice, that really cracks me up. like presentation is somehow going to compensate for the fact that you've cupped a burger in fried bologna and served it for dinner. and unlike other recipes in this fine volume which are served with side dishes (often prepared at the same time) or are shown in garish photos with suggested sides, this is it, kiddo. a burger. that's your dinner. eat up.

then again, after that there were probably few requests for seconds.

i'd love to go back in time with a rachel ray cookbook or one of martha's everyday cooking magazines and show it to the lovely housewives of the civil rights era and see how they'd react. would it have shocked them to see simple, balanced meals with fresh produce taking less than 30 minutes? as these boomers were entering their adult years, would modern recipes assault their process food-deadened tastebuds?

this isn't the most heinous recipe, just the first one i spotted with a title that made me pick the book up off the street and bring it home. yes, my zuska hates it when i go out on trash day because i'm fond of rescuing "projects" in need of some attention that never seems to happen. double-plus bad: it's a book. i'm not supposed to bring any more books into the house.

"can i keep it if i promise not to make any of the recipes?"
 
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