I can pretty much trace the decades of my marriage by the cooking fads I once took seriously: fondue, cooking in a clay pot, sourdough, woks.
Then there are the foods I used to prepare regularly that I haven’t thought about in ages: beer bread, lime pie made with sweetened condensed milk, hot dog casserole with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Oy.
Fondue was popular in the early 1970s. I remember that we went to a dinner party involving several couples cooking their own chicken one bite at a time around a fondue pot. For some reason, that fad didn’t last long.
Clay pots had to be soaked in water first, and then the meat and vegetables would gradually become a stew as they sort of steamed inside the pot in the oven. If you ever decide to try clay-pot cooking, a word to the wise: store clay in a lighted, airy place. My pot kept growing mold because it retained moisture after being cleaned and I didn’t realize that storing it in a dark, enclosed cupboard was asking for trouble. Figured it out after contacting the company.
To keep my live sourdough culture going for months and years, I made pancakes with a bit of it every week, adding a little to my batter. I made a pictorial version of the blueberry pancake recipe and taped it to the cabinet for John when he was 3 so that he could make pancakes with my husband if I was not there.
As for the wok, a couple whom my husband knew from work came over one Saturday night so the wife and I could put her Chinese cooking classes into practice. I remember that I was nearly nine months pregnant with Suzanne. We made the most fabulous meal of all time — everything from scratch — but didn’t sit down to eat until after 11 pm.
Nowadays if I can’t whip something up in half an hour, I’m probably not going to make it, but all these fads were fun at the time.