Saturday, December 15, 2018

And Now For Something Completely Different: Time Travel Kitchen

Though I haven't been up for any food experiments lately, I retain my interest in food history, and recently I found a great blog for food historians with a sense of humor:  Time Travel Kitchen.

Jana, the author of Time Travel Kitchen, has young children and a (very) patient husband.  Her contribution to food blogging is to try out recipes from historical cookbooks.  She then serves these creations to her family and friends and records their reactions, and her own.

The results are often hilarious  She makes James Lileks, whose Gallery of Regrettable Food brought home to new generations how ghastly the food of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s often was, look like a piker when it comes to food-based humor.  Lileks derived his humor from looking, acerbically and closely, at the depictions of the foods of the period in cookbooks.  Jana is bold enough to actually make the recipes, describe them, and even, often, photograph the resulting food.

If you have a sensitive stomach, don't read Jana's blog right before, or right after, a meal.

One example from Jana's blog should suffice.  At a 1940s-themed murder mystery party, she served "ham and peanut butter sandwiches" from a 1941 cookbook.  This is not what you'd think; it consisted of a blend of ham paste (think modern deviled ham) and peanut butter.  Her verdict?
So horrific. It tastes of salty tears and a cat's breath. It was easily the least popular thing on the table. One person liked it, though. I don't think a single other person finished their tiny tea sandwich. The weird thing for me was that the combo of canned ham and peanut butter confused my mouth so much, I was able to get it down before my brain caught up.
Aside from its historical value, Jana's blog is often wonderfully funny.  Go check it out!

EDIT:  (12/17/2018)  Updated for accuracy; I had not realized how many 19th century recipes Jana had tried, for instance, compared to 1940s recipes.

EDIT:  (4/15/2021)  Updated for accuracy:  The ham and peanut butter recipe actually requires 1/2 cup ham paste to 1/3 cup peanut butter.  

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