lunch time read: georgian bay gourmet summer entertaining

I love old cookbooks. Oldish. My favourites being from the 40’s through the 80’s. Depression era ones are also good, but there’s something irresistible about all that apres war poncing about with the discovery of avocados and kebabs and mandarin oranges in syrup; the way corn flakes and potato chips are used as crust, maraschino cherries and olives are tossed onto everything and platters of undercooked hams, shellacked and skewered with slices of tinned pineapple and unripe honeydew melon. Oh the things you can do with tuna! Or, when in doubt, throw some cream or sugar or liquor into whatever you’re making, and while you’re at it have a swig yourself!

A deliciously hideous pseudo-culinary flamboyance that continued for decades, seeming to peter out only with the arrival of celebrity Chefs and food channels and all-of-a-sudden real food from places beyond the British Isles.

There’s something comforting in all that kitsch, all those olives. Takes me back.

Happily, my most recent acquisition, Georgian Bay Gourmet Summer Entertaining, contains all of the above-mentioned in one form or another, plus people are smoking in the accompanying pictures. It not only took me back to an era, its cheerful everyone-must-have-fun bonfires and boating banter delivered me vicariously to some oddly frenetic cottage where placemats and napkins match and an aproned woman in pumps is all Martha in the kitchen morning til night while three year olds play with lawn darts and a guy in a safari jacket swills rum-laced pineapple juice and burns enormous olive-studded hamburgers. The book was published in 1983 when, evidently, no one was eating local or seasonal as any kind of rule. Lots of jellied salads, tinned fruit and things with marshmallows where marshmallows should never be—but as well, many gems, like a tomato and basil soup with gin, frozen watermelon daiquiris, and bits of trivia such as Georgian Bay has 30,000 islands and is the world’s largest fresh water inland bay. And pears—who knew they ripened from the inside out?

One of my favourite items is something called a Disaster, made by putting popsicles and ice cream into a blender til smooth then “pouring into glasses”. Admittedly, I was hot and thirsty while reading the book, which gave Disaster some added appeal. I haven’t tried it yet. Thinking about it now I see how it might be brilliant or… it could live up to its name.

Ah well, if it’s no good I’ll float some marshmallows, add a maraschino cherry or a splash or three of cognac.

Will report once the experiment has been conducted. :)

Happy weekend!

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8 thoughts on “lunch time read: georgian bay gourmet summer entertaining

  1. I so love old cookbooks! You’ve captured their rakish essence so perfectly. There is a preponderance of marshmallows & cherries in so many of them. Wasn’t it Beverly Nichols who said that “maraschino cherries are vile in whatever form they appear”? Or something like that… ;) Can’t wait to hear a report on The Disaster.

    I think my own favourite old cookbooks are wartime ones for the alternative ingredients they use – so fascinating.

  2. Ha – just found Nichols’ quote on maraschinos…have to share it :)

    “The one thing with which you must not adorn [syllabub] is a bottled cherry. Bottled cherries are the quintessence of nastiness in whatever form they are served, tasting of mouth-wash and recalling the lipsticks of undesirable barmaids.”

    (from Down The Kitchen Sink)

      1. I came across this book today in a book shop on King Street in Midland Ontario, they carry new and used books, the book was priced at $18.00, I didn’t buy it because I bought a copy when the book was first published. Still enjoy the book to this day!

        1. $18.00? Well that’s nice to know… I got quite a deal in that case! :)
          And I love it already. So summery-nostalgic. (Do you have any favourite recipes you’d recommend from it?)

  3. Thelma has a few old PEI recipe books from the Women’s Institute or some other local group (she often finds them on eBay). Things like cheeseburger casserole or other things using cheese whiz and pimentos. Her mum, Vivian, still often makes us pork chop casserole (with rice & mushroom soup mix) or a chicken casserole that includes melted cheese and potato chips. Real trailer park delicacies. Of course, she redeems herself with her baked goods. Cheesecake topped with blueberries and whipped cream is her piece de resistance.

  4. There’s just enough room in her place for one, but we have a comfy guest room and Vivian’s right next door. Of course if you hang out at our place long enough things just show up. Yesterday it was cheesecake squares and the day before it was cookies (both for our local hospital’s 60th anniversary, but there’s always a little extra for us).

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