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 1980S
This is the decade of American food, and by that we mean both fast and fusion, Cajun and Tex-Mex, blue cornmeal and green peppercorns, New American and Lean Cuisine. We have nostalgia for diners, and we want food as American as sequins and spandex. What we eat is authentic but amplified, like the music coming out of an electric synthesizer or a woman’s shoulders in a purple poofy dress. The term foodie is first used by the big-hat-wearing New York magazine critic Gael Greene. The magazine’s November 26, 1984 cover story declares the “democratization of restaurants” for eaters who feel entitled to everything once reserved for the rich. Households across the country are learning the names of Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and a promising young caterer from New York named Martha Stewart. And in 1980, in a tiny office in Weston, Connecticut, a man in a bow tie launches a magazine called Cook’s.
THIS WEEK’S RECIPE: CHICKEN NUGGETS
While the nugget was invented in the 1950s by a professor at Cornell, it wasn’t until 1979 that executive chef at McDonalds Rene Arend got his gourmet hands on this yet unpatented technique, starting a chicken craze across the country. By 1983, supply issues were sorted and the nationwide demand could be met and these chicken bits were being dipped in sauces and popped into the mouths of Americans across the country. Since then, there have been millions of nuggets consumed and almost as many investigations into the process behind each one. Our recipe cuts out the controversy, leaving simply bite-sized fried chicken, the most enduring trend to make it out of the eighties.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Cook Like It’s 1983! Without the shoulder pads or the dimethylpolysiloxane.
Make this recipe that ranks along with apple pie on the “American as” scale, 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 “1983.” 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, August 28 at 9pm E.T.
As we get closer to the millenium, the stakes are getting higher! In addition to an America’s Test Kitchen apron autographed by Bridget Lancaster, the two lucky winners will receive pre-release copies of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook (to be released this fall) even before it hits bookstore shelves!
Images from Vintage Ad Browser.