A Few Ridiculous Recipes

January 4, 2016

In the early days, Gourmet Magazine had no test kitchens. As I’ve often discovered to my own peril, nobody bothered testing the recipes.

I’ve had some truly spectacular failures.  Last week I tried making salt rising bread from the January 1951 issue and it was a terrible flop.  As I was looking through the issue with a newly jaundiced eye, I came upon these beauties.

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Gastronomie Sans Argent was the magazine’s name for inexpensive recipes. So how, I wondered, could they possibly suggest that someone on a budget hollow out a five pound wheel of imported cheese to use as a serving bowl?  Then I took a closer look at this recipe…. and saw a few more problems. You’d be crazy to try this.

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Then there’s this gem, which was obviously suggested by someone who’d never actually made it. Be my guest.

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And finally, an early recipe for what we now call nachos.  Nachos, it turns out, were invented in Mexico for American soldiers in 1943 by a man named Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.    The Frito folks (this is an ad) also threw in a supremely silly suggestion for serving “guacamole salad”.

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Celebrate Potato Season

January 2, 2016

This is what I love about this time of year: when it gets cold, everyone stops worrying about the shape of their bodies and starts relaxing about food. After all – at least here on the east coast – swim suits are a distant memory and a carefully chosen sweater makes everyone look good.

In 1979, the editors of Gourmet were obviously thinking along those same lines.  For here is a wonderful array of international potato recipes.  I love the idea of potatoes stir-fried in Sichuan peppercorn oil (and I love the idea that Gourmet was offering the recipe almost 40 years ago).  The llapingachos were also way ahead of their time (achiote in 1979?), and they sound delicious.  As for potato gnocchi – is there anyone on earth who doesn’t love them?

I plan to try all three recipes this week.

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In case you need a reminder of exactly how different those days were, here’s a cartoon from the issue.

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Happy New Year 2016

January 1, 2016


This is from the January 1951 issue of Gourmet.  Given the interest in Monet’s bananas, I thought I’d post this.  Oddly, this issue also has a recipe that’s pretty much a variation on Monet’s Sole ala Veron (in the same post).



And then, just because it’s the new year, I couldn’t resist adding this Duck Soup. The name alone makes you smile – but if you happen to have a duck carcass hanging around, please don’t waste it.  I made a much simpler duck broth last week with a leftover carcass (no roux, no turnip, no parsnip, but a bit of orange peel), and it made the most spectacular broth for ramen.