cookout

Reading this book about food in the ’50s (an excellent book, by the way), I was reminded of Memorial Day 2000. That year, my friend S and I were working together at the historical museum, doing educational events. We had done Native American weekends and Sheep to Shawl afternoons and Victorian Tea Parties and Edwardian living history tours and suchlike all year. Come Memorial Day weekend, our children wanted to do a 1950s theme at home.

I’m afraid our first response was a pair of blank stares. S and I are not old enough to remember the 1950s, but we are too young to have studied it in school. Search your memeory, and you will probably find that you have a gap like that, too. The decade right before you were born is probably a bit of a mystery to you. So there we were thinking helplessly of the 1950s, and we came up with James Bond, the Cold War, and — given the Memorial Day weekend — cookouts. We decided we’d have a cookout.

S had a drawer full of vintage aprons and I had the Betty Crocker Cookbook, so we felt prepared. We made Pineapple Boats. When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to look at the color photographs in the Betty Crocker Cookbook, marvelling at the sophisticated dishes there presented. And the most glamorous of them all was surely the Pineapple Boat. This dish involves cutting a fresh pineapple in half, with the leaves still attached, and filling it with fruit salad. You serve it with the leaves on, for that exotic tropical air. Did people ever make Pineapple Boats in real life? I don’t know. If you are cutting up a fresh pineapple for your fruit salad anyway, it isn’t really any extra trouble. And it does look festive.

We also made grilled chicken, devilled eggs, baked beans, cole slaw, three-bean salad, potato salad, and fresh berry cobbler. I don’t think that any of my readers will have a personal recollection of a 1950s cookout, but if so, I would love to hear whether or not we got the menu right. Something from the Oven doesn’t talk much about side dishes for cookouts — they say “the main event was protein and fire.” But we — trying to follow the ’50s theme — had four males outside grilling chicken and five females in the kitchen making everything else.

We intend to cook out this weekend as well, but we are planning on burgers (please insert KC joke here). Probably also Fresh Fruit Indulgence. We could make Pineapple Boats. There will however be only two females present, so we have to draw the line somewhere.