Retro Recipes from the ’50s and ’60s: 103 Vintage Appetizers, Dinners, and Drinks Everyone Will Love
Are we ready for another mid-century revival? The retro-kitsch things rolls around every decade or so and we all go crazy for lounge music and pineapple upside down cake, until something else comes along. Retro Recipes might fit right into that trend, or it might only appeal as a trip down memory lane to the Boomers and early Gen-Xers who ate these dishes as kids.
That’s not to say the collection of dishes that RecipeLion executive producer Addie Gundry has compiled are bad. This book is full of recipes that are both usable and tasty — there are certainly recipes here for things that could still make it onto someone’s dinner table; fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, farmer’s pork chops, and beef stroganoff are all classic dishes that stand the test of time.
Some things are better left in the past, though. Apple sauce made with cinnamon candies, for instance — is that even a real thing? And my heart fluttered (not necessarily in a good way) to come upon the recipe for ambrosia salad, a concoction of canned pineapple, mandarin oranges and cherries mixed with marshmallow, sour cream, and coconut, a dish that was a ‘must have’ on the holiday table of the family of an old ex of mine from over 25 years ago, which was the only place I’ve ever eaten it, before or since. Holy avalanche of weird memories there, Batman.
However, between the recipes for appetizers such as pigs in blankets (which everybody sneers at, but come on, we all secretly enjoy) and the section of cocktails, this would be a great book for anyone hosting a retro-themed party. Aside from the kitsch value, there’s probably nothing here that you couldn’t find a better recipe for online (Gundry’s mac and cheese recipe called for Velveeta, for instance), or in your Mom’s recipe collection.
Desserts include plenty of things you’d usually have at Grandma’s house, from fruitcake to tomato soup cupcakes (yes, that’s a real thing), to a creamsicle gelatin mold made with chunks of orange gelatin mixed in a bundt pan with vanilla ice cream. Actually kudos to Gundry for exhibiting self-control with the gelatin-based recipes — she could have included so many more but thought better of it.
Usability (based on softcover version): very good. Recipes are clearly laid out in a good size font with numbers and line breaks between steps in the directions. Ingredients are likely to be on hand or easily accessible in most areas. No metric measurements.