Robin C. Johnson and Dot Lofstrom
Before tabbouli, lemon
grass, blue M&Ms, and frozen nonfat egg product, Americans must have
eaten something. What is American food, anyway? Pretty much anything
nowadays. But once upon a time, phrases like, "As American as apple
pie," had some basis in a people's identity. And of course some
Americans have yet to be enticed by hummus, and are still frying chicken
on Sundays. Most cultures have such a food tradition. As ours becomes
more and more blurred, as we embrace the cultures of the rest of the
world (Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Thai, and now Japanese), many
dishes of the American experience exist more in memory than sur la
table. That may be for the best in a lot of cases, but we still like
to remember how and what our moms put on our plates.
In my own kitchen, I have long since banned Crisco, but it was a staple in my mother's cupboard, as intrinsic to her larder as lard was, not to mention the omnipresent bacon grease can at the back of the stove.
Although there seems to be a trend now back to cooking from scratch, during the middle 1900s, the prepackaged and convenience food phenomenon began in earnest. Strangely, home cooks embraced shortcuts with a passion, and the advertising industry with their recipe pamphlets and product test kitchens determined what we ate. That was how it happened that my mom in California and your mom in Montana both made a lime Jell-O salad with cottage cheese and pineapple. From that time forth, for the majority of Americans, "making soup" meant opening a can. For this reason, this web site devotes much of its space to familiar brand name foods, and the joy that our shared popular culture can bring. I'd like to welcome you to my web site, where we can remember it all together.