Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Learn about the exciting vegetables of Fort Wayne!

Gourmet's Delight is another very short community fundraiser cookbook, this one a 1964 attempt by the Fort Wayne Woman's Club to raise money. (Don't ask me which Fort Wayne woman thought she was a club all by herself. The book didn't specify.)

I imagine that's her picture on the cover, though. 

I learned from this small collection that 1960s Fort Wayne had some interesting vegetable dishes. For instance, I love twice-baked potatoes-- earthy potato skins enclosing a fluffy payload of cheesy, starchy goodness. I'd be kind of taken aback by the twice-baked potatoes in Fort Wayne, though.

They're filled with oysters marinated in French dressing! Okay, I'm sure that sounds good to some of you, but even you, I assume, would want to know to expect oysters instead of cheese....

Rather than going with the traditional 1960s Eye-talian treatment of eggplant, the Fort Wayners opted to go Mexican.

Mexican, in this rendition, means simmered in some chili powder-laced water, then topped with sour cream. I have to admit that the Fort Waynians did seem to have a more expansive idea of Mexican food than people who wrote my other community cookbooks from the midwest. Rather than offering up tamale pie and taco salad, they had Egg Plant a la Mexican Way and this little beauty, which was in a specially labeled Mexican section:

Lamb basted in a sweet syrup and braised under a layer of kumquats and bananas is definitely not a typical Taco Tuesday!

I should get back on track with the vegetable selections, though. Don't worry if they don't appeal to you so far. I have a feeling this last one will sound pretty good.

Who knew that Pecan Spice Cookies count as a or salad? Fort Wayniacs are so far ahead on their calling a dessert a salad game that they just straight-up declare cookies to be a salad (or vegetable, maybe?). Hey! The recipe includes nuts. That counts for something, right?

Okay, fine. I'm pretty sure that the person in charge of the chapter headings just messed up and changed the heading to "Cookies" a page too late. I still like to imagine cookies count as a salad in Fort Wayne. The city needs something to make it interesting right?


  1. The eggplant dish sounds like the name Peggy Hill would give to one of her signature dishes (taken from someone else).
    I could see grandma using the heading on the last one to explain why cookies were a side dish and not dessert. Okay, they really didn't care, they would just eat a cookie if they wanted it.

    1. Ha! I love hearing that title in Peggy's voice. I should have thought of that.

  2. I just don't know what it was back in the 50's-60's-70's that compelled cooks to invent so many truly odd ways of preparing food. Oysters in the baked potatoes! Fake "Mexican Eggplant"! And while the lamb might have tasted good with that Oriental-style marinade, I wouldn't have thought in a million years to serve it with...bananas and kumquats!
    I guess these families wanted a little excitement at dinner instead of plain roasted meats and veggies drowning in white sauce.

    1. Grocery stores had a lot fewer options back then, so maybe that's what made throwing random fruits in with the main course so popular. I think your point about white sauce fatigue is probably pretty accurate too.

  3. You're exactly right about the old grocery stores, but honestly, preserved kumquats are something I have never seen...even in current-day huge metro-NY gourmet markets. I do recall my Mom using fresh ones in the holiday fruit bowl when I was a kid, so I guess kumquats were really a "thing" back then. (And I have never seen them since!) I still have a perverse desire to invite a couple of friends to dinner and when asked what's on the menu, I'd answer (sweetly) "Lamb and bananas". I think the looks on their faces would be worth it!

    1. I think preserved fruit used to be more of a thing than it is now. I see a lot of recipes calling for canned crabapples (and I'm pretty sure one cookbook had a pantry menu that featured crabapples for unexpected guests-- kind of suggesting that families could be expected to have them on hand), but I have not seen any of them in stores. Maybe preserved kumquats were more common back then? Or maybe nothing about this recipe was thought through very well... It would be a hoot to see people react to being expected to consume lamb and bananas.