My favorite YouTube channels to watch are ones that try weird and often retro recipes. I enjoy reading old cookbooks and housekeeping guides. My last birthday gift was a Betty Crocker 1970s Recipe Card Box. I am not the only one who loves watching these recipes being tried and tasted. Why is that we enjoy these unusual concoctions? Could it be that there is a mad scientist in many of us? Are we adventurous or perhaps, more simply we are curious about the past and cooking old recipes are the quickest and most accessible way to experience it? Maybe the last one is the most likely reason why. Regardless, there is much to be said for trying old recipes without context.
One of the more interesting things when coming across old recipes before someone even tries to recreate it: vocabulary. Multiple recipes, the older they are, the weirder the terms for ingredients become. Many of my grandmother’s recipes will call for oleo. For those who don’t know, it is another word for margarine. One recipe from YouTube calls for one green pepper or mango (Sauerkraut Salad, credit goes to Recipe Archeology for rediscovering and trying this recipe), which shows how different individuals will interpret ingredients differently as the comments below the video reveal that in certain areas in the past, green peppers were called mangoes. How accurate that is or why that was, I have no idea. Regardless, it shows that research would not go amiss when attempting older recipes to ensure that recipes turn out as close as possible to the original intent if accuracy is desired.
When trying new recipes, in addition to the correct ingredients, a sense of adventure and experimentation should be desired if not required. Modern taste buds don’t always match up with the ones that created the recipe. Those taste buds can lean towards different textures in addition to flavors. The Victorians and the 1950s/60s housewife appeared to particularly love experimenting with jello/gelatin. They especially loved savory jellos or at least enjoyed making them. Modern taste buds, the adult ones, often enjoy jello with mainly alcohol. While jello is just one texture, modern and retro foodies tend to have very different opinions about desirable textures. However, when flavors and textures match, old recipes can become new favorites.
Have you come across old family recipes? Ones that made you say yuuummmm? Or ones that made you say yuck or why is this a thing???? I have found many of these and simply enjoy just reading the recipes or watching people make them. Food is often the easiest way to connect with our ancestors and friends through time and place, so long as we have access to the ingredients at least. What memories do you have or what recipes do you love and share? Please comment below with the answers. Thanks for reading.