Gelatin, Gristle & Gravy: A Look Inside Vintage Cookbooks

Perhaps more interesting than the recipes are the illustrations in these old cookbooks.  Sometimes mouth-watering, but more often stomach-turning, pictures in a vintage cookbook are a mixed bag.  Let’s take a tour through 14 cookbooks and see what was on the tables back in those days…

Better Homes & Gardens: Meat Cookbook (1965)

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It was all about the meat in those days – and they didn’t shy away from close-ups of fat and gristle.

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Looking through midcentury cookbooks, you get the impression there were three food groups: meat, gravy and Jell-O.

 

Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking (1972)

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Just in case you thought these might be limes and lemons to go with your refreshing gelatinous treat, think again – these are cucumbers and squash.

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It looks like there’s been an accident.

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Am I the only one who thinks this looks like turd-on-a-stick?

 

Better Homes & Gardens: Best Buffets (1963) / Better Homes & Gardens: Lunches and Brunches (1963)

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I’m not sure I understand the compass/plant centerpiece, but the food looks quite good.  Having the one weenie in the center of each tiny jug o’ beans is a nice touch.

 

Best Buffets

Moving on to the lunches and brunches, we have “a touch of glamour” via Eggs Benedict…

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I’m intrigued by what’s in the drinking glass – it looks a lot like what’s in the gravy boats.  And the bread looks absolutely fossilized.

 

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Jesus that’s a lot of eggs.  I mean that’s 2-3 deep of nothing but egg slices  – then, have a side of bacon and a heart-attack for dessert.

 

Fondue: The Fine Art of Fondue, The Chinese Wok and Chafing Dish Cooking (1969)

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I’m all about fondue… but just dipping things into pots of grease, not so much.

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June Roth’s Fast and Fancy Cookbook (1969)

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Egad! The orange-ish dish on the cover of this cookbook wins my award for the grossest looking item on this entire list.

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I’m sure this was a delightful treat – but in black and white, it looks horrifying.

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The good: Wieners arranged in a pretty star.  The bad: macaroni that looks like it’s bloody. Did somebody cut themselves slicing these wieners, then bleed on the macaroni?

Let’s Cook… Outdoors (1961)

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Famous Food from Famous Places (1964)

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He needs to watch his portion size.  That’s a mighty big slice of cake!

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TIME-LIFE Picture Cookbook (1958)

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That is the “brownest” looking table of food I’ve ever seen.  So much for getting your greens!

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Why are they sitting on couch cushions?

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Attack of the mud bugs!  Those crawdads look alive and ready to swarm anyone daring to pick from this table.

 

Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide (1979)

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Wait – I thought you weren’t supposed to put aluminum in a microwave?  And who microwaves a whole fish?

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Variety Meats, Veal Dishes, Vegetables (1969) / Wear Ever’s Wonderful World of New Method Cooking (1965)

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This looks like a science experiment, not a meal.

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She needs to get a bigger pot.

 

Travel Your Taste with Kraft Food Service (1978)

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An early example of chicken nuggets.  A paleo-nugget, if you will.

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Better Homes & Gardens: Cookies and Candies

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The orange sherbet would be a lovely dessert… were it not for those unpleasant-looking dishes.    And speaking of unpleasant…

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