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Jack Kerouac Dinner? What to serve!!


It's the 50th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac. Me and my big mouth - I said let's have a dinner party. So, now I have to whip something up.

What should I serve? Coffee, cigarettes, and cheap booze are the only things that come to mind, and it sure doesn't sound appetizing..

Any ideas'?

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  1. I have to admit I've never read the book. But, what comes to mind is coffee drinks for one. A splash of Irish Wiskey and a dollop of cream might fit. Can you give us more of a "flavor" of the book?


    1. Diner food! Check out this famous picture of some of the biggest names of the Beat movement.


      3 Replies
      1. re: Trencher man

        great idea!!! and great picture!! thank you

        1. re: Trencher man

          Agreed: the first thing I thought of was grilled cheese and pie.

        2. Make sure your friends eat you out of house and home and that most of what you've got is unwholesome. That should summon the spirt of ole Jack.

          I seem to remember a lot of references to food in his writing. Pork chops. Grilled cheese. Something about mashed potatoes. Apple pie and ice cream. Lots and lots of coffee. Something French Canadian would have a certain frisson, don't you think? Maybe that French Canadian meat pie, tourtier. And didn't he take a one-day or a bit longer gig picking vegetables or fruits of some kind during the road trip?

          1 Reply
          1. re: clepro

            lol -no kidding :D

            good idea about the chops/grilled cheese/french stuff/etc!!

          2. He definitely writes abotu food--just not sure how appetizing it is as his characters were focused on not spending any money on it! This is what I remember (just read it this year):

            cheese sandwiches (not necessarily grilled--they took these on the road)
            salami and bologna sandwiches
            coffee coffee coffee
            booze booze booze
            apple pie and vanilla ice cream

            I like the ide of throwing in French Canadian food--you could also include foods from the major geographic areas in the book: NYC, Denver, San Francisco and Mexico.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dct

              How about that French-Canadian specialty, poutine?

              1. re: ekammin

                That occurred to me too, but I figured the cheese curds might be a bit difficult to come by. More importantly, poutine didn't enter the Quebec culinary lexicon until long after JK's parents moved to Massachusetts and not too long before JK himself died.

            2. Definitely diner fair - you could borrow a food idea from "Catcher in the Rye" and break out the blender and make malted milkshakes. Holden Caulfield drank a bunch of those on his road trip too!

              1. sandwiches, but the bread *must* be stolen, not paid for.

                1. Aw. This dinner is such a great idea. I wish my friends had thought of it.

                  1. Going along with what everyone else said, I'll also vote for diner food -- greasy burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, chili (or sloppy joes, since I'm sure they were pretty interchangeable at diners in the '40s and '50s), vanilla milkshakes, and always COFFEE AND PIE.

                    I actually mourn the fact that nobody orders coffee and pie anymore. It's always coffee and biscotti (God's joke at the expense of cookie lovers everywhere), coffee and scones, coffee and muffins... Starbucks doesn't even serve pie! However, in old books like On the Road and especially old movies, that's what everyone orders!

                    1. "I've been eating apple pie & ice cream all over Iowa & Nebraska where the food is so good" And they eat "beautiful steaks". I recall glazed cakes and creampuffs, "throw some beans on it", stolen roast beef served in a napkin, ice cream with chocolate sauce eaten by hand, popcorn, canned meatballs, and grapes from the fields. I stress cherry pie as well.

                      What can I bring?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Mr. S

                        hi everyone,

                        what an odd and interesting evening last nite turned out to be. i think jack would have been happy :) we had cherry pie a la mode and apple pie with a slice of cheese. every kind of diner-ish sandwhich cooked on a grill you could imagine - tuna melt, grilled cheese, patty melt, rueben, you name it. i tried to make a poutine, but i wasn't 100% thrilled with the gravy.

                        no matter - we had more than enough cheap booze to go around, and a half-hearted neal cassady look alike contest broke out.

                        ahh, the beat generation ;)

                        1. re: winedubar

                          Sounds like a great time. I was intriuged by your theme and googled Kerouac and food. Gotta love the internet. Check this out: http://www.jackmagazine.com/issue7/me....

                          It would also have been kinda cool, but very morbid, to serve a Graham Kerr recipie as Kerouac was alleged to have become ill during and died shortly shortly after watching a Galloping Gourmet episode. I tried to find the menu for that episode but didn't have any luck.

                      2. San Francisco's North Beach, ca. 1960: here is what we low-budget folks served up when our pals came over. A huge pot of spaghetti with meat sauce and/or meatballs, or for a more upscale meal we'd get ravioli from the ravioli factory nearby and their "gravy" (red sauce) to go over it, and some Italian sausages from the neighborhood sausage factory. There'd be a loaf from the bakery down the street, which we would transform into the currently chic "garlic bread". Over the pasta would go grated cheese from the local Italian deli, and we'd be filling glasses from a jug of dago red. With a big salad featuring lettuce and cukes from Safeway, we had a cheap feast.

                        1. for dessert...alic b toklas brownies, laced with owsleys best