Food produces some of our strongest memories. Sometimes those memories are elusive, tied to a hard-to-place image from a magazine or a cookbook. For me, the most alluring of those images are the highly saturated and stylized food photos from the middle of the 20th century, when Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens ruled every housewife's cookbook shelf. Mayonnaise was integral to most savory foods, margarine was healthier than butter, and everything looked better with a sprig of curly parsley.
For Thanksgiving this year, we thought we'd take a look back at the ways people were cooking their birds and sides 50 years ago. But where to even begin?
If you're in New York, ask Bonnie Slotnick. A Parsons grad who worked in fashion illustration and book publishing, she's owned a vintage and antiquarian cookbook store in the Village for the last 14 years. She helped us source all of these images and recipes from her massive collection.
Slotnick's also a hoot. "Don’t 'friend us' on Facebook," she writes on her website. "Don’t do whatever one does on Google+." She'd rather you just come in to the shop and talk about food and your favorite old cookbooks — just as long as you don't give her any tsuris, meaning trouble or woe. "A little Yiddish joke that I'm sure you've heard a few thousand times before," she told me, referring to my last name.
I had not. But, when I'm cooking Thanksgiving this year, I won't forget it.
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, 163 West 10th Street (between Waverly Place and 7th Avenue South), Greenwich Village; 212-989-8962