Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Glamour and the Misplaced Thanksgiving

Here comes November-- the month when pumpkin-everything hits its zenith and all things nog and peppermint begin creeping in. What did November menus look like back in 1963, though? Considering our source is Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper), it's probably a safe bet to guess that November meals required a lot of canned soup and French dressing.

The first Monday of the month confirms my suspicion:

Mock Cassoulet is just about as mock as it can get. I guess the frankfurters are supposed to stand in for the sausages in the genuine article, and the poultry components have flown the coop. If that's not enough to make this a mockery, the long-simmered white beans are replaced with a can each of onion soup and baked beans... No surprise that this is followed up with a French-dressed salad, but it's made with real greens for once rather than random canned and frozen veggies.

Wednesday brings another soupy main dish:

Tuna-Mushroom Casserole initially seems like a pretty standard tuna-and-canned-soup casserole, but then I realized there's no real starch component to bulk it up. There are a few bread crumbs, but that's about it, so that casserole is sure to be a concentrated blast of tinny goodness. Maybe the apples boiled with cabbage will be enough of a distraction that the casserole won't seem so weird.

I love that the fancy-sounding Peach Liegoise is just a name for lemon gelatin with defrosted peaches mixed in. I would have paired it with the Mock Cassoulet, though, since this bears just about as much resemblance to the ice-cream-and-whipped-cream confections I found when I looked up Liegoise as the cassoulet did to the real recipes.

Another November Monday presents another soup-based casserole:

A box of frozen fried chicken is hardly ever that good to begin with, but at least it might crisp up a little if you throw it in the oven for long enough. Celery Chicken Casserole dismisses this possibility entirely, smothering the chicken in a can of cream of celery soup for a limp and soggy salt-lick of a casserole. Yay? The salad surprisingly calls for bleu cheese dressing, though, and the pineapple mixed into whipped cream should be pretty tasty, even if it is inexplicably topped with a dusting of undiluted orange juice powder.

I was a little surprised to see an actual Thanksgiving menu , but I was even more surprised at where it was placed in the chapter: the third Thursday in November. Wondering if I were confused about Thanksgiving's timing or if it had been historically celebrated on the third Thursday of November, I checked around and discovered that 1. Thanksgiving was indeed on the fourth Thursday back then too and 2. The third Thursday of 1963 was the day before Kennedy was assassinated. So here is the incongruously holiday-themed dinner from the third Thursday of November:

It's fun to see a Thanksgiving menu for two, and it's not too bad as far as Glamour recipes go. The (presumably turkey) drumstick filled with an oyster dressing is just right for an intimate little holiday, though the sauce is unsurprisingly mostly condensed mushroom soup with some organ meats blended in. The candied sweet potatoes are fresh-- not canned-- and drowning in brown sugar, though marshmallow-free. The menu offers respite to those who are sick of pumpkin with its mince pie. Top it off with some flamed cognac in coffee, and I could see '60s couples feeling a little bit sophisticated to have this for a holiday meal. (I'd certainly rather watch somebody make Cafe Brulot than watch Uncle Bill let out his belt a couple notches or listen to toddlers scream because there are no chicken nuggets or french fries.)

What have we learned for November?
  1. The illustration for the first Monday is probably a head of lettuce, but maybe a bowl full of circus peanuts candy.
  2. The skinny rooster is pretty glad his legs are too puny to stuff.
  3. Nothing is safe from casserolification-- not even frozen fried chicken.
  4. The return of cold weather makes coffee + booze the preferred meal-ender.
  5. Thanksgiving in 1963 must have felt pretty weird.


  1. I keep thinking of that amazing JFK episode of Mad Men. And the infamous Thanksgiving episode in season 4 in which Betty shoves a sweet potato down Sally's throat :/

    1. I have been intending to watch that show, but I haven't gotten a chance to do it yet!