Welcome to “Cooking Through the Decades,” a 10-week journey through the 20th century, where you can let our revamped retro recipes take you back through history. Cook along with us for a chance to win cookbooks and an America’s Test Kitchen apron autographed by Bridget Lancaster.
Setting the Scene: The 1910s
Twentieth-Century America entered its teenage years as would any other budding adult: in tumult. In increasingly modern factories, at suffrage parades, “over there” on European battlefields, and in the kitchen, identities were asserted and conventions were quashed. Cooking across America was divided, remaining extremely regional in rural areas, and in cities high-class families relied on servants while immigrant matriarchs held fast to the cooking of their homelands. A great concern of the decade was the number of middle- to upper-class women who did not know how to cook. The advent of machines in the kitchen and of distractions for women in the form of schooling and suffrage made it so that, in the words of one gentleman lamenting the loss of feminine domestic skill in a 1913 New York Times article, “In these whirligig times everything has a machine-made taste.”
THIS WEEK’S RECIPE: Chicken à la King
Beginning in the 1910s, one dish that appeared on restaurant menus haute and humble alike was Chicken à la King. It is a dish whose name recalls Old World opulence, and yet so often yields only a bland chicken breast drowned in white sauce. Though the exact origins of the dish are hard to trace, the combination of chicken, cream, and pimientos on bread is most often attributed to a restauranteur by the name of King. So, no, the dish does not descend from royals (although the earliest recipes were luxurious enough, most calling for egg yolks and some even including truffles in the mix). Our lighter version remakes this restaurant staple known for putting on airs into an easy yet elegant dinner at home.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE
Cook like it’s 1917! We promise it won’t taste machine-like, even in these whirligig times.
Make this 100-year-old recipe, and send us a picture of you with the dish (or if you’re shy, just the dish is ok too)! Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “1917.” Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and blog or Twitter URL. Also, feel free to include a few lines about your experiences with this dish or decade.
Deadline: Tuesday, July 10 at 9 a.m. EST.
Two winning entries will will be featured on The Feed next Wednesday, and the lucky cooks will win a copy of From Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens and an America’s Test Kitchen apron signed by Bridget Lancaster.