I'm posting a day early so we can celebrate Independence Day with The Best of Home Economics Teachers Bicentennial Cookbook (Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, 1975-- I guess they needed to start selling before the bicentennial actually hit!).
Today, I'm going to highlight just a few of the more "charming" trends I've noticed in old American recipes over the years.
Americans like their main dishes sweet:
It's not enough to have the classic (too-sweet-for-me-but-I'll-look-the-other-way-while-you-eat-it) apple and pork chop dinner. It's not enough to add sweet fall spices, or to dump a can of sweet potatoes in with it. No, you have to throw in a whole can of peaches too! Sweet on sweet on sweet.
At least a dinner of pork chops in syrup has a nice sheen to it.
If getting sweetness from fruit and sweet potatoes seems a little too subtle, there is always this approach:
The recipes loses me at the point when it insists on brushing the chickens with orange juice mixed with corn syrup. Candied chicken is not my idea of a good time-- but it does seem quintessentially American to me.
Another fun American tradition: dumping every can from the pantry together, topping it with chow mein noodles, and calling it Chinese:
canned mushroom soup in a casserole does not equal Chinese?)
The added oranges make this unnecessarily sweet, too! Way to prove my previous point, home ec teachers.
And one more thing: Americans of the past did not always choose the most... er... sensitive names for recipe titles.
So happy Independence day (or happy Tuesday, if you're not from around here)! Make yourself a nice fruit cocktail, cream of mushroom soup, and chow mein noodle casserole. Give it a name I won't repeat.
That's right. Celebrate like a real American.