A River Road Travesty!

Okay, who the hell allowed South Louisiana to experience the freaking 50s?????

I pulled out my grandmother’s cherished River Road Recipes with all its spots, stains and yellowed pages.  All I wanted was a vegetable dish to go with my cajun roasted turkey.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but hell if I expected to find almost every recipe calling for canned mushroom soup, canned peas, canned string beans, and–for a special touch if you want something fancier than crushed potato chips–crushed cheese crackers! And whatever you do, don’t forget the shredded Cracker Barrel!

I flipped to the copyright.

19freaking59.

How far back do I have to go to predate convenience foods?

So, I’m now turning to the Yankees. Fannie Farmer, please, to the rescue?

Otherwise, meh, I’ll just find something on the internets.

And a side splash of Jameson’s to get me through it.

Bah. Humbug. (Hic.)

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19 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Food, Holidailies, Holidailies 2010

19 responses to “A River Road Travesty!

  1. MrsH

    Remember, frozen foods had only become available widely in the “space age,” which was mostly after 1959.

    Sincerely,

    She who was born three weeks after Sputnik.

    • I just discovered that 1959 was the first River Road Recipes.

      I dunno, I just figured they’d have some recipes for fresh vegetables. People still bought fresh in season, after all.

  2. If you want to predate convenience foods, then I guess you’re looking for recipes calling for things like “3 bushels of wheat” or “one medium beef cow.”

    Prep time: nine hours
    Servings: 30-40

    • Now that you mention it, I could try the old pound cake recipe. A pound of sugar, pound of flour, pound of eggs, pound of butter. In fact, I think I might do that.

      I have a couple of old 17th and 18th Century cookbooks. Them folks was strange.

  3. People in South Louisiana don’t really eat much in the way of fresh vegetables. And if they do, they fry ‘em.

    I think I have a copy of RRR around here, but only for amusement; I’ve never cooked out of it. My favorite South LA cookbook is one my great-grandfather loved, and my mom found us all copies: “Belle’s Bayou Bounty.” There’s a recipe for the best way to cook shrimp while you’re on a shrimp boat.

    • I have a hand-written jambalaya recipe that offers nutria and gator meat options. I haven’t actually used this cookbook, either, but thought it included all the great old cajun and creole recipes. And it may, mixed in. I wonder if the latest editions have more in the way of fresh.

  4. Ilene

    In the 1950s, frozies is what the cool/with-it people ate. Mamie Eisenhower made a rule for the White House staff that all the vegetables served at the presidential table be frozen. Kraft foods continues the proud tradition that all foods be covered in cheese sauce and/or crushed fatty crackers.

    May I suggest a low carb recipe from my own mother who constantly struggled with weight? Cut up fresh zucchini and cook it with a can of stewed tomatoes. Add extra garlic and salt/pepper. My own version has an additional 1 tsp of olive oil. Very healthful and you can eat as much as you want.

    • Actually, I make that a lot. Sometimes zucchini, sometimes okra, with onions and tomatoes and garlic, but I usually add the cajun seasoning, too. Love it.

  5. To be actually helpful here, I think what you would want to go “authentically” with Cajun roasted turkey (although we could argue that the Cajuns generally do not roast turkeys) would be shrimp-stuffed mirlitons (a kind of squash). I might have the recipe kicking around here somewhere, or try a Google search. Maque choux would also be appropriate (corn with peppers and other interesting stuff). My NOLA relatives would probably have green bean casserole or if you’re lucky, spinach madeleine (spinach plus tons of cheese).

    • I did see recipes for mirlitons (which they also call “vegetable pears”) and had no idea what that was. I guess I need to google. And the corn sounds interesting. I’ll look for that one, too.

      I don’t mind sticking to my own traditional recipes. I was just kind of browsing, in case I found something new and good. As for the turkey, I discovered just by doing that a very healthy dose of cajun seasoning all over the turkey makes a delicious bird. I’ve never been interested in frying them, though I’ve had fried turkey. But this has the benefit of crispy skin for people to fight over as it comes out of the oven, and some mighty fine gravy (but it’ll set your mouth on fire if you don’t tame it quite a bit in the making).

    • And, I found mirlitons and recipes. Huzzah!

  6. This sounds like every cookbook and recipe card in my grandmothers’ collections, actually. I think we had one book where a recipe for spaghetti called for canned spaghetti.

  7. Columbina

    I cook from RRR all the time, but mostly desserts. As I said on Twitter the other day, you want the real triple-distilled desserts, ain’t no source like a 1950′s Baton Rouge Junior Leaguer.

    What I love best about RRR is that even though it is the best selling community cookbook in the world, having gone through a bazillion printings, they have always resisted the impulse to update the text in any way. (Well, that, and having grown up in BR I know many of the names in the book – they are often the families of old friends.)

    As has been already noted, convenience foods were THE HOT THING in the 1950′s. These were housewives whose mothers had had to prepare everything by hand, and never let them forget it. Something as now-commonplace as frozen spinach was viewed as A Godsend of the Atomic Age.

    Now, you want the real deal, go find one of the early, early editions of the Times-Picayune Creole Cookbook. The recipes are quite good and quite authentic, but they definitely date from the “first, go catch a rabbit” era, and were written at a time when many middle-class families in New Orleans, not just the wealthy ones, had hired kitchen help and thus labor was less of a factor.

    • Oh, please, rec a dessert! Something not too complicated but delicious? Please?

      And I know you’re right. These recipes are as cutting edge for 1959 as the Kopi luwak and saffron is today. I’m not sure what I expected, just not the same kind of food I ate at every Methodist pot luck growing up!

      • Columbina

        Well, the recipe I make from it every year is the walnut bourbon balls (it’s the last recipe under “Party Foods”), but I dunno if you’d call that dessert. My co-workers just went through several dozen of them in three days!

        I’ll have to go look later for specific ones, but I recall making several of the cake recipes, because apparently cakes are kind of a lost art these days, so that’s how far back I have to go to find good cake recipes. I also think my basic pecan pie recipe came from there, but then pecan pie recipes are much of a muchness.

  8. Pooks, someone bought that book for me as a wedding gift. For a while it was the only cookbook I had and it was so useless. Nothing in there is any good.

    If you want good Cajun, Lafayette Jr. League’s Talk About Good is a great cookbook.

    Here is something I always cook to go with my turkey: http://cinemagypsy.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/sweet-potato-crunch/

  9. I actually have the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School cookbook — it was my gramma’s and is copyrighted 1912. I’m going to make a devil’s food cake from it tomorrow!

  10. My mom (born in ’36) learned a distressingly-large amount of her cooking from just these sorts of texts. Considering that I rarely saw a fresh vegetable other than iceburg lettuce or tomatoes before I went to college, it’s no surprise that I wasn’t a big fan of veggies until sometime in adulthood.

    For more fun with the ’50s, you have to check out The Gallery of Regrettable Food: http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/index.html

Hit me with it.

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