Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fine (cough!) French (cough! cough!) cuisine

Who were the most sophisticated people in 1976? I mean, who were the ones with refined palates and a taste for the finer things in life, and who could really appreciate fine French recipes from James Beard?

Who was the target audience for a book with the instructions to make proper escargots:

Or maybe a good ratatouille with Mornay sauce:

The sauce even uses the proper Gruyere and Parmesan, not something like American cheese with Parmesan!

This group could appreciate sauteed leeks as a side dish instead of creamed peas or corn.

Maybe they could even pronounce "Poireaux a la Provencale" correctly...

For dessert, they could have a lovely dacquoise...

...after a careful process of preparing and constructing meringue and a mocha butter cream:

Yes, this patient and cosmopolitan group must have been the tastemakers of the '70s. So who were they?

These recipes are from Benson & Hedges 100's Presents 100 of the World's Greatest Recipes. Yep. These are recipes for smokers from a tobacco company, and not just any tobacco company. Benson & Hedges was "dedicated to good taste in tobaccos," and in the kitchen too.

And suddenly I have the urge to call these recipes "classy" rather than "sophisticated."


  1. I have quite a few of those benson and heges books, Poppy. Actually when I think about it, they were publishing recipes in cigarette titled books long before Marlboro!

    I love all of the Benson and Heges Series. Many of the recipes were contributed by James Beard and Craig Claiborne. I would definitely say the recipes are "classy" and the books themseves, priceless! Thanks for sharing, Poppy...

    P.S. Take care of that cough, lol...

    1. Yes, I've got another one from Craig Claiborne too. I was just interested in the difference between the books' idea of smokers and mine.... They don't quite match up.

      The books reminded me of some playing cards my parents always called the "classy" ones. (Not sure whether they were being ironic.) Anyway, we had a two decks of Benson & Hedges playing cards in a little fake leather case. They mostly got used when we had company. I never figured out how we got them since nobody in the family smoked. (At least, not after grandpa died of lung cancer, which was almost twenty years before I was born.)