Welcome to a 1970’s history lesson via the best learning tool – FOOD! So far on this time-travel experiment, we learned about the World War II efforts in the 1940’s with rationed ingredients. And in the 1950’s, recipes using processed and canned foods for convenience were all the rage. And in the 1960’s, cocktail parties were popular along with using food as a form of political activism. Which brings us now to cooking vintage recipes from the 1970’s – fueled by political turmoil and more of that good ol’ gelatin.
Lunch in the 1970’s – Hawaiian Hash
History 101: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed millions of people from Asia to immigrate to the U.S. As more entrepreneurs came to America, they started restaurants to bring flavors of their home to the states.
If you want to learn more about this time in history, I highly recommend the book Honolulu by Alan Brennet. It’s an incredible book about four young Korean women who immigrated to America as a picture brides. They came with the hopes of living in a rich land where the streets were paved with gold. But when they arrived in Hawaii, they quickly realized that America is not as great as they dreamed. Eventually the main character opens a Korean restaurant with her husband, because they couldn’t find their traditional food served at any restaurant in town.
The recipe for this Hawaiian Hash that I followed is from Taste of Home. It was delicious, but it certainly doesn’t beat my Grandma’s homemade bulgogi, or the delicious food on the actual islands of Hawaii!
Dinner in the 1970’s – Hamburger Helper
It seems that every decade had some sort of escapade with meat. The forties saw meat rations due to the war, which led to a meat surplus in the fifties. The sixties found itself a bit mixed – meat was still quite popular for some, while vegetarianism became a necessity for others. In the seventies, there was another meat shortage. So in 1971, hamburger helper was invented to help families stretch the meat in each meal.
If you’ve never had hamburger helper, it’s usually some form of dried carbs with seasoning packets meant to be mixed in with your meat, such as ground beef or turkey. Adding pasta or rice to your meat is cheap and it helps bulk up the meal so the same amount of meat can feed more people. I was surprised at how delicious this beans & rice hamburger helper tasted!
The recipe I followed was based on the back of the box. And the Frito-like chips as a topping gave a delicious salty crunch to this cheap vegan meal!
Dessert in the 1970’s – Watergate Salad
Nixon. Political scandal. Government break-in. What else is there to be said about Watergate? 😵 The Watergate salad is far from your leafy green veggie salad. Oh sure, it’s green alright. But it’s full of marshmallows, canned pineapple and pistachio pudding. No one really knows who invented the Watergate salad, or how it got it’s name. Maybe because it’s green and political scandals often happen because of greed for money, which is also green in the U.S. Or maybe it’s because of all the crazy nuts and soft marshmallows that fill both this salad and the political parties? Who knows!
You can find the recipe for this vintage Watergate salad here. It made a lot of this “salad” or loaded dessert pudding, so I put leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer. And when it’s frozen it tastes like refreshing pistachio ice cream! Thanks, seventies, for an interesting way to consume more sugar!
Thanks for reading along in Cooking Vintage Recipes from the 1970’s! Do you have any favorite recipes or foods from this decade? Let me know! Stay tuned as we zoom on into the 1980’s! And if you missed any of the past decades, go check those out too! 😍🥗🍲🍦