Food history through TV
I love food references in old TV shows. It's like a food history lesson sometimes. I was watching an episode of The Andy Griffith show (towards the end of the run; probably from 1967) and was struck by a few interesting food-related references.
In this episode, Aunt Bea was going to visit a friend in Raleigh, Opie was going on a camping trip and Andy was staying home alone "baching" it. Coming out of the market, Andy runs into a friend and goes on to describe the things he just bought: wild mushrooms, canned oysters in chili sauce, pickled avocados, chocolate syrup and shrimp enchiladas. Comments are made that it is an "odd assortment" and that the list "does have kind of a bounce to it." With the exception of the chocolate sauce, I wonder what the odds of these items being available in a small North Carolina town in the late 1960s were. I also wonder if the canned oysters in chili sauce, shrimp enchiladas and pickled avocados were actual items you could get or made up by the writers to sound like foods a bachelor would eat left to his own devices. I found it amusing but also very interesting.
The overiding story arc of the episode is that through a series of silly events Andy is invited to eat three separate spaghetti dinners through the course of the show.Two of the hosts reveal that the spaghetti sauce is a family secret and the third says he got the recipe from a chef in NYC at an Italian restaurant. All three of them confess to the secret ingredient being something exotic: oregano. Was oregano an "exotic" ingredient in the 1960s? Maybe to the citizens of North Carolina it was. Yes, I realize this is a comedic televison show, but it does give us certain insights to how food was thought of at the time.
There is also a mention of Aunt Bea going to an Armenian restaurant while visiting in Raleigh. I thought that was rather out of left field given the geographical location and the time period.
Next time you watch an old TV show, look out for the food references. You might learn something. :)
My grandmother (Italian) was showing me an old cookbook that her husband had bought her on a date in the 50s and there were a lot of interesting sPellings and items I had not heard of until she explained what they are called now. One item was aretaka which she said nobody really used but Italians and in the book there were all these hints about where to find these exotic items and what they lOoked like. Turns out aretaka is oregano. So I don't think it too far fetched that in an area with fewer Italians like NC that 15 years later it would still be rather new.