Cherry–catsup salad (above)? Jellied cottage cheese? Spaghetti sandwich? Post–war US cooking was somewhat nightmarish if the dishes featured on a great blog called Mid Century Menu are anything to go by.
Blogger RetroRuth and her husband Tom cook and eat a different dish from mid–20th century US cookbooks each week and then the former blogs about it. They're brave people: from luridly coloured salads that look like desserts to pallid, sweaty looking dishes like California prune cream and an inexplicable noodle ring filled with creamed chicken, this is a real horror show. And a lot of gelatin is involved.
Jellied tomato–olive mold
Post–war, the US was thriving, prompting a desire for speedy and convenient recipes, and a fervent interest in using the latest gadgets. As RetroRuth says in the blog’s bio, “like it or not, these horrible recipes are part of the culinary evolution of our country.”
Gazpacho gelatin salad
They’re not all terrible though: it’s worth checking out “The Best” section on the blog, where you’ll find some pretty acceptable looking cakes and pies.
If you want to even further back into the American gastronomic cannon, check out the YouTube channel dedicated to 18th century living, including recipes for fried chicken and curly fries.
All images: Mid Century Menu