American Gourmet: Classic Recipes, Deluxe Delights, Flamboyant Favorites, and Swank ""Company"" Food from the '50s and '60s

Jane Stern, Author, Michael Stern, With HarperCollins Publishers $25 (286p) ISBN 978-0-06-016710-3
Respected arbiters of camp and kitsch, the prolific Sterns ( The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste ) currently focus their talent for connecting culture and food on an aspect of an era that, until now, has received little notice. While the lowbrow culinary cliches of the '50s and '60s were real enough, there also existed alongside them a very upper-middle-class appreciation of what the Sterns call ``The Good Life,'' in which `` coq au vinsic replaced dowdy casseroles on the women's pages of upwardly striving daily newspapers'' and according to which ``travelers could enjoy such delicacies as coquilles St. Jacques and creme brulee in the dining room of nearly any Holiday Inn.'' While many such recipes are easily found in volumes that serious cooks may have relegated to the dusty back shelves of their collections, a number of those included here are welcome revivals (``incredibly rich lobster Thermidor''). Others, like ``1964 World's Fair Sangria,'' are amusing relics. And some--``Life-Affirming Moussaka'' and ``Aphrodisiacal Artichokes''--divulge a rarely seen '50s sensibility. In their inimitably witty, urbane and wonderfully entertaining style, the Sterns give the era its due. Photos not seen by PW. HomeStylesic alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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