Try a Mexican Dinner

Try a Mexican Dinner!

from Sunset’s Hostess Handbook, 1937

The imperative in this title makes me laugh. Try a Mexican dinner! Try it! You must try it!

I’ll leave out the worst of the casual racism (although the full article is worth a read for sure), but did calling something “crude food” and “typical of the peon’s love of bunched, smashing color” ever sound ok? Apparently it did, since that’s the appeal to serve your guests tamale pie and decorate your table with peon-appropriate flowers. Just like in “Old Me-hick-o”! (NB: it really was written out like that. I shudder to think of how she’d describe her recipe for fried chicken.)

On to the menu!

Fruit Cocktail
Endive Salad
Tamale Pie
Tortillas
Monterey Jack Cheese
Figs
Raisins
Coffee

As bizarre as this menu is, it at least sounds mostly edible. It’s a tough call which is weirder, the salad or the tortillas.

Salad ingredients:
Endive
Celery
Green onions
Tomatoes
Green peppers

Tortilla ingredients:
Milk
Egg
Flour
Baking powder
Salt

She calls these tortillas “Americanized”, which I guess explains the milk? I’m almost tempted to try them and see what happens. I feel like they would turn out like tortilla-biscuits, which strikes me as a waste of two delicious foods.

The “pie” is basically a beef stew thickened with a LOT of cornmeal. To its credit, it does contain a small amount of chili powder, plus about 5 grains of cayenne. But the crazy thing is that it’s served with the salad, not the tortillas. So you’re stuck eating this under-seasoned stew with a fork when there are warm tortillas just waiting in the oven. And then when you’re done with the stew, you get served biscuit-tortillas, slices of Monterey Jack, and little cups of raisins and figs.

So I think the tortillas win for “most bizarre”, but the most horrifying is definitely the coffee which is put on to perk BEFORE the guests arrive. So with the biscuit-tortillas, you get hour-long perked coffee.

Enjoy!

“Your guests play with raisins, then, and coffee, and they are likely to light cigars or cigarettes right there and keep on talking until nine or ten o’clock about the lost San Saba and hunks of Yaqui gold, while the cheap candles gutter grease down on the cheap, coarse crash of the table cover, and the evening becomes a most pleasant memory.”

try_mexican_dinner1

try_mexican_dinner2

Speak Your Mind