Saturday, September 5, 2015

Barbecue like it's your job

Labor Day weekend! For summer's last hurrah, I thought we should take a look at some barbecue party menus from the great big 1963 The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. The "When Company Comes" chapter has a section of "Barbecues With, For, and By Men" with recipe suggestions based on the men's professions and/or locations. The titles are sometimes comically specific: Los Angeles Salesman, Engineer from Turkey, Manhattanite with Skyline Terrace... (These men serve lemon-barbecued rock lobster tails with baked potatoes, shish kebab with raisin pilaf, and barbecued lamb shanks with demi corn on the cob, respectively.) (And demi corn on the cob means the ears are broken in half and apparently Manhattanites with skyline terraces are too precious to just say "half-ears of corn.")

Here are a couple other entries that cracked me up:

For the most part, the artist and photographer's dinner sounds pretty standard-- spareribs, potatoes, blueberries with sour cream. The part that makes me do a comical double-take is the first recommendation for "The Introduction" course: mugs of hot pea soup! I don't know anyone who would start a barbecue with big old steaming mugs of hot pea soup. For the after-ice-skating party, fine. For midwinter family dinner, sure. But for a starter at a barbecue? I just don't get this at all. Maybe this is the cookbook's subtle way of hinting that artists and photographers must be crazy.

The art director seems like he might be a little big eccentric as well:

Barbecued flapjacks? I'm suddenly imagining grill-marked pancakes with barbecue sauce (rather than syrup) poured over them. Want a short stack?

The recipe reveals that I'm not quite right on this one (thank goodness!)...

It's a short stack of Parmesan-topped pancakes serving as buns for a double burger with barbecue sauce.

Serve it up with "special coleslaw." I know the book just means for readers to pick a slightly fancier than usual coleslaw recipe, but any time I see the unexplained word "special" in a recipe title, I assume that it's code for booze, like "Daddy's 'Special' Coffee." Liquor might perk up a lot of things, but coleslaw? Seems like it would be a waste to me.

Adding coffee liqueur to the dessert further reinforces my impression that this hypothetical art director is a whimsical yet driven tyrant to work for. Good thing it's Labor Day and he can spend the day subjecting his friends and family to himself and his cooking, freeing the artists and photographers to serve steaming hot pea soup with their spareribs.

Happy Saturday! I hope you get Monday off too, but if not, at least you don't have to work for this art director.

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