Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jun 28, 2010 08:29 AM

Your Favorite Retro Dishes

The thread on lunch counter food prompted me to think about retro food in general. And what I mean by retro food is dishes that saw their heyday in the 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s, but are now either largely forgotten or considered infra dignitum.

I'll start off by nominating fondue. Now fondue is not completely off the radar these days, but I'd wager it is nowhere near as popular as it was in the late 60s and early 70s. Absolutely love that bubbling raclette with the white wine and kirch.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Frito Pie
    Meat Loaf
    I was only born in 72 so thats about all that hits me as retro so far

    2 Replies
    1. re: asommers

      I love a good Frito Pie but I must say here in Texas it is not forgotten. There is hardly any bar in our area that serves basic pub grub that does not have it on the menu. Of course the best is still one from a little league baseball game made right in the cut open bag of Fritos.

      1. re: swamp

        That's right, and some of the upscale places serve it too, like Stephan Pyles' restaurant.

    2. Chicken or Shrimp Croquettes, and 3D Burger from Howard Johnson's. Where have they gone?

      17 Replies
      1. re: CocoDan

        What was the nature of the 3D Burger?

        1. re: Perilagu Khan

          The 3D Burger was the original Big Mac (only way better). It was two patties on a seseme seed bun (three slices) w/ lettuce, tomato and a special sauce that was sort of like a Russian dressing. Oh, if only I could get just one more. Hope that helps.

        2. re: CocoDan

          What about the fried clam strips, on the square rolls at HoJo's. Dang I miss those!

            1. re: bigdnotemeril

              count me in on the AYCE clam strips!

              1. re: bigdnotemeril

                A very fond memory from my youth. Passadumkeg ( can go on and on about those clam strips, although now he is much more into REAL fried clams from Maine. I would so enjoy a one day reprise of those AYCE clam strips & having access to a local White Castle.

                1. re: PattiCakes

                  They were a HS favorite of mine too. A buddy worked at Ho Jo's, he'd roll out of work w/ a box full of clam rolls and we'd scarf them down on the way to ice hockey practice.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Of much I admire you and enjoy your comments in most posts...............NO COMMENT on Clam Strips!It's like having Thanksgiving dinner with stuff the is in rollsbought over near the bacon! ( I had to say something!...just to keep my self dignity!)

                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                      >>>It's like having Thanksgiving dinner with stuff the is in rollsbought over near the bacon! <<<

                      what exactly does this mean?

                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                        Hey! it was 1963, where were you, Clammy? He says w/ a giggle.
                        I'm leaving the house in 5 minutes to go eat a quart of fried clams for $15!!!
                        Revenge is sweet.

                    1. re: bigdnotemeril

                      As a land-locked young lad
                      sprouting in Louisville, Kentucky
                      no way we could conjure fresh clam strips.

                      HoJo's was epiphany
                      with its orange and blue.
                      Jarring colors blew my mind
                      and so did their clam strips.

                      Frozen, of course,
                      but the heck did I know?
                      Except they were good, crunchy, chewy, and greasy.
                      Holy Grail to teenager with zits.

                      Louisville also in the Land of White Castle.
                      No jarring colors as Hojo's
                      just gleaming white parapets
                      grill always steaming with smell of the onions.

                      Fifty yards away from Mom's office
                      where afternoon I dutifully reported
                      There stood a White Castle.
                      The power of those towers seduced me.

                      Mom was conundrumed
                      she was such good meal planner
                      confronted with kid always hungry.

                      We settled to stasis that I could have four
                      as long as I ate them slow, one at a time.
                      So inside the Castle, the staff got to know me
                      as the kid who ate, ordered one at a time.

                      Beauty of memory of Mom in her office
                      and I saddled up to the burger bar.
                      Knew all cooks and waits by name
                      they never complained that I ordered so slowly

                      Even at that rebellious young age I saw my Mom's point,
                      as three hours later we were seated at home
                      with a really good meal.

                      She rationed White Castle
                      but when came to Hojo's and clam strips
                      floodgates were opened full roar.

                      Now departed, she conjures memories
                      many of food.
                      We ate laughingly
                      We ate good.

                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        Since you're from Louisville, I have to ask: Who needs Hojo's when you have Moby Dicks? I love that place!

                    2. re: CocoDan

                      Wild Mountain Blackberry Ice Cream from HoJo (only during the summer, of course)

                      1. re: flueln

                        OMG- the Hidden House in Tucson used to have Oregon Blackberry ice cream that I can still taste if I try very hard to remember it. I'd almost kill to taste it again

                    3. Nesselrode pie (extinct as far as I know)

                      Grasshopper pie

                      Carpetbag steak (extinct in the United States, but prevalent overseas, I believe)

                      Steak Diane

                      40 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Hi Ipsedixit,

                        Arthur Schwartz has a recipe for Nesselrode pie on his Food Maven website. I for one really miss listening to him on "Food Talk". I did get to meet him here in Litchfield, CT a month or so ago when he did a presentaion and book signing. Here's the web site, click on Most Requested Recipes.


                        1. re: junescook

                          Thanks, that is indeed quite interesting.

                          1. re: junescook

                            I have loved Arthur Schwartz since I bought Cooking in a Small Kitchen in 1978, while I was in college. Those recipes made my reputation as a cook! He's one of my culinary heroes.

                            1. re: junescook

                              "I like pie." --Karl Nesselrode

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              ipse, I make Steak Diane once a year, usually for New Year's Day. Never made it until a few years ago, so I never had it in its "prime". This one needs to be resurrected.

                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                Indeed it does. You *need* to invite me to your New Year's Day bash sometime! :-)

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                Steak Diane is prepared by La Trattoria in Canton, Connecticut -- expertly, at tableside. Really old-skool.

                                Carpetbag steak is prepared at The Grist Mill in Farmington, Connecticut (abuts the campus of the venerable Miss Porter's School). Carpetbag steak is divine the way they do it with lump crabmeat inside, the steak done just right... I think they stick a little Gorgonzola in there.

                                Egg Foo Young is something only known to old farts like me.

                                Remember chicken or seafood "vol au vent?"

                                Creative, savory/sweet molded Jell-O salads, particularly the one with coleslaw inside (and Pineapple). I *love* this stuff.

                                1. re: shaogo

                                  I've been researching old Chinese and Polynesian resto menus and have seen an abundance of chop suey. I've heard of this delicacy, but have not had the great good fortune to sample it.

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Or the misfortune... Chop Suey was a mess thrown together by Chinese chefs in the old west to satisfy the coolie gangs building the railroads. It mostly didn't. If you must eat Chinese/American food, go for chow mein. And as for egg foo yung, every Chinese restaurant I've ever been in serves it (I like mine with shrimp) -- even the buffets make them and set them out. Not vanished food at all.

                                    1. re: flueln

                                      Yes, I had a very strong inkling that chop suey was not the acme of Chinese cuisine.

                                  2. re: shaogo

                                    Carpetbag steak is also prepared at Jacques Imos in New Orleans, whether it is true to the classic, I'm not sure.

                                    1. re: shaogo

                                      I'm glad I'm not alone, shaogo. When my lunch buddies at work go on about how gross all those Jello salads they grew up with were (and they do this every so often for some reason), I remember fondly the lime Jello with grated carrots and celery, and sometimes a little chopped pineapple too.

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        One of Sam's really big dislikes was people complaining about or putting down the food they were served as kids. I remember that whenever I read or hear those.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Yeah, but I bet he never ate a Jello salad!

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            That is too true, at least not at home. He may well have eaten it at a so-called "real American's" home (and I don't mean Amerindians) but he did have access to a lot of what we would recognise as real food, whether Japanese or Californian in inspiration. In any case, while I love Sam and was deeply pained by his demise, I feel no need to deify his opinions.

                                            A lot of the food I didn't like as a kid was the product of poverty - in the relative, Western World sense. Too many cooked carrots and other cheap veg - we did sometimes have access to wonderful homegrown veg at farmer relatives, and my parents sure knew the difference - sometimes just fried onions and potatoes, or pasta, to eat.

                                            I'd love to bring back aspic salads (vegetarians, you can use agar agar) but not with all the sugar and chemicals in Jello. Cabbage in aspic is lovely.

                                            1. re: lagatta

                                              I love homemade aspic, but Jello is not food, merely something concocted in a lab to resemble food. It is, perhaps, the perfect evil of processed food.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                picawikka: Bite your tongue---jello has legitimate purposes. First, it is often the only thing a sick and feverish child will eat so you can get some calories and liquid in via red jello. Second, except for raw pineapple and kiwi it makes a jazzy disposition for ratty-looking fruit when you clean out the refrigerator. Third, on a buffet table it looks pretty---shiny and in fancy shapes. Fourth, if you get stuck with grapefruit that's too sour to eat, put it in Black Cherry Jello and the finished product will taste like cherries, not nbad in the dead of winter.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Oh no, it's the stuff of comfort to some of us- and it is food, even if it's made out of hooves and seaweed- especially the seaweed.

                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                    It's the artificial flavors and colors and high sugar/artificial sugar that will get you in the Jello! The hooves and seaweed are the health food of the deal.

                                          2. re: EWSflash

                                            Jello mold made with coleslaw from the KFC, church supper classic from my youth. I dream about it. Nilla Wafer pudding is another.

                                          3. re: shaogo

                                            please don't call me an old fart because i remember egg foo young. i made it in my dorm room! ;-)).

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              I wouldn't have thought that possible- how did you do it?

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                LOL -- with a chun king "kit" and a burner and a skillet. ;-).

                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                Oooh, there was a restaurant here that, until recently, made THE best Egg Foo Young!! It had these wonderfully crisp onion strings all over the outside of it...heaven. Of course, the wallpaper paste cornstarch brown sludge that came with it was a pass...I ate it with soy sauce.

                                              3. re: shaogo

                                                I am either of an age to now qualify as an "old fart" (egads!) or perhaps I hung around the grandparents too much as a kid, but I most certainly remember Egg Foo Young and Chop Suey. They were my grandparents' favorite "Chinese" dishes. Ha!

                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                  What do you mean, "Egg Fu Yung is only known to old farts?" I just started making it for my family a few years ago, when Google showed me how easy it was. Cheap, too. I make a stripped-down version without any meat or fish at all, but it's gotta have bean sprouts, celery and mushrooms at the very least. Just douse it in that addictive oyster sauce/soy sauce/chicken stock gravy and I'm happy.

                                                  Is it true they eat egg fu yung sandwiches in Philadelphia?

                                                    1. re: gentlyferal

                                                      I love EFY, but I never get it right. Do you have a favorite recipe you could share?

                                                      1. re: mattwarner

                                                        Sorry for the delayed reply, mattwarner, but I don't read Chowhound often enough :) Anyway, the trick is to have something succulent/crunchy, like bean sprouts, in the egg mixture. Also, the gravy must be chicken stock with oyster sauce and soy sauce, lightly thickened with cornstarch.

                                                        Otherwise the recipe is actually pretty flexible. Slice thin and fry up some mushrooms and celery, along with bean sprouts (or, if you have none, thinly sliced iceberg lettuce; The flavor is actually quite similar!). Then, if you like, add some chopped shrimp or chicken or both. Stir in enough eggs to make it soupy. Ladle out into a pan and fry.

                                                        Unless you use a wok, your patties will be plate-size and thin, but still delicious. It's the curvature of the wok that keeps the restaurant ones from spreading out all over the place.

                                                        As far as I'm concerned, egg fu yung is actually a pretty forgiving dish. Lately I've been making it with purslane, which keeps better in the fridge than bean sprouts do, and still has the crunchy-juicy thing going on. It's the addictive gravy, and the crunch, that make the dish.

                                                    2. re: shaogo

                                                      Carpetbag steak is supposed to contain oysters, not crabmeat.

                                                    3. re: ipsedixit

                                                      I love Steak Diane and every few years I'll fix Julia Child's recipe. Mmmm.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        steak diane showed up on a recent episode of Hell's kitchen.... one of the chefs, I think late 20s to mid 30s admitting she had no idea what it was.

                                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                                          Steak Diane is more prevalent in the UK than the US. I still make it as I enjoy the spectacular flambe moment. (See avatar) It forms part of my steak-three-ways and allows me to serve a 'gravy' with my meat, something that is relatively rare in North America.

                                                          In the UK the flambeing was done at the table and, of course, it used to stop the conversations. I suspect the US fear of litigation has diminished its use. Here in Greek town, Toronto, the "OPA" of saganaki still rings out.

                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                            Sauce with meat rare in North America? Huh?

                                                            I do not know why you are shirtless near an open flame in that photo, but I do know that it's *awesome.*

                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                              he is shirtless due to his prior flambé incident. ;-)).

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                Looks pretty hairless, too. Coincindence? I think not!

                                                              2. re: tatamagouche

                                                                I was forgetting Southern BBQ.

                                                                And I said 'relatively rare'. So I will stick with that statement. I lived in the UK, France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland over a period of twenty years and sauces with meats were more common than the US.

                                                                Although not as common as with Indian, Chinese and many other Asian cuisines.

                                                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                  Hmm. I don't see it. Maybe in home cooking, but in restaurants meats are as often as not served *with* some form of sauce, even if they're not *in* sauce. Is that the distinction you're making?

                                                                  In any case I will bow to you as the naked chef.

                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                    My mom was a very saucy bitch! Broiled sirloin steaks often on Sundays w/ a FRESH mushroom, onion cream sauce. I was unaware of Campbell's Cream of.. sauce recipes until I went away to college. Grave w/ veal roast was common too. Too many ethnic groups in US/Canada to make such a generalization.

                                                                2. re: Paulustrious

                                                                  Can't recall seeing Steak Diane on a UK menu since the 80s. Time for a revival here, IMO.

                                                            2. Egg a la Goldenrod (crumbled hard boiled eggs in white sauce over toast) - my mom used to make it.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                I loved those Goldenrod Eggs! My Gram used to make 'em; she'd mix the chopped whites into cream sauce and rub the yolks through a fine sieve to make the golden "pollen" on top.

                                                                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                  We didn't get the "de luxe" treatment. Chopped boiled eggs in Bechamel, on toast (with the crusts *on*) was the order of the day but oh, so good!

                                                                2. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                  Oh yum - my mom made something similar with a curry cream sauce, and peas along with the hard boiled eggs. I hadn't thought about that in years.

                                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                    My mom made this like shaogo. Chopped hard boiled eggs in Bechamel, but she served them over English Muffins. Yum. I make Eggs a la Goldenrod now and then. Comfort food.

                                                                  2. Chicken or turkey Tetrazzini. Salisbury Steak. Beef Wellington. adam

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: adamshoe

                                                                      Mmmmm, turkey Tetrazzini- my mom made that really, REALLY well, from a recipe out of the Gold Cook Book- anybody remember that one?