Mad Men returns this Sunday, and many of you are probably chomping at the bit to find out what happens next to Don and his crew. And for some of you, maybe you’re thinking you should celebrate ’60s-style with your very own theme party.
If that’s you (or you just like a stiff drink), consider looking at The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, which not only introduces you to food and drink of the series, but also the entire era that the characters of Mad Men live in. Between the pages of recipes (taken from Manhattan haunts and popular publications of the decade), you have an introduction to culture of the 1960s, including where some of these recipes got their start, why “California Dip” was so popular back in the day, and even special ways you can be a 1960s “hostess with the mostest.” This is all, of course, interwoven with some of our favorite Mad Men moments (I still enjoy thinking back to Pete’s explanation of a chip and dip — and yes, that reference is certainly there).
The book has been out for a while now, but I just received my review copy either during the last season or shortly thereafter, I didn’t have the opportunity to party it up Mad Men style. But between then an now, I’ve been able to try some of the recipes, and I’ve been pleased. Sure, you have to remember that recipes from 50 years ago aren’t going to be the healthy plate we have today. Not only do many of the dishes include hefty amounts of things like butter, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream, but they also include one other thing precious to us in dear 2013: time. To make some of these meals, you’re definitely going to have to have Trudy Campbell’s dedication.
But the cocktails are definitely not to be missed — and they just may be the reason to pick up the book. The ’21’ Traditional Bloody Mary is probably the best Bloody Mary I’ve had, and I won’t lie when I say that last summer that might have been a go-to drink for my husband and me. The book has many more (and in some cases, multiple versions for you to try out), perfect for any themed cocktail party.
Yes, since the book was published in 2011, the recent episodes of Mad Men aren’t accounted for in its pages, and yes, some of the black-and-white pictures are lacking in grabbing your attention (or appetite). But some of the 1960s-esque full-color images make you stop and really think that the Avocado and Crabmeat Mimosa must be on my table, and sure, I can make that Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (so far, for desserts, I’ve only tried the Pears Baked in Red Wine alla Piemontese). And the neat images of old advertisements are certainly in Mad Men style.
Overall, it’s a fun little book, and if you’re a Mad Men fan, it’s a good one to pick up. You don’t even have to cook to appreciate it since it’s chock full of historical (and episodic) anecdotes. But if you do, more power to you. Betty would be proud.
The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men
Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin
Publisher: Smart Pop