Poodle skirts, saddle shoes, Elvis, and James Dean defined the iconic era of the 1950s. A social and community driven time, the era was filled with dinner parties, adventurous dishes, and an optimistic mindset the world is nostalgic for.
Bringing the 50s back to life with a throwback dinner party reminds everyone of a simpler time where family came first, and conversation usually centered over a homemade meal. Homemade fare was the norm, and that’s what created the familial solidarity of the era: a people coming together for food and fellowship.
Here are the top three tips to capturing the ‘50s essence:
1. ‘50s Recipes
The first rule of a dinner party is the menu. When it comes to bringing to life an era as distinct as the 50s, the food has to be authentic. Whether it’s from an old cookbook or your grandma’s recipe box, choose recipes that dictate what the ‘50s were all about.
For example, a classic meal would be deviled eggs and pimiento-stuffed olives as an appetizer, patty melts with Sargento cheese and sautéed onions for the main course, and Jell-O and whipped cream and pound cake dipped in chocolate for dessert.
Here is a rundown of a patty melt recipe, in case you are unfamiliar:
For a serving of four, you need 1 lb of ground beef or ground turkey, 1 large thinly sliced onion, 8 slices of cheese, and 8 slices of rye or pumpernickel bread. In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add onion rings to the melted butter, and allow them to cook until they are brown and tender, about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, form the ground meat into four equal patties, about ½ inch in thickness. Season with salt and pepper in order to bring out the meat’s natural flavors. Cook in a skillet or grill over medium heat, usually 6 minutes per side, or until the center is no longer pink.
To assemble the sandwiches, place a piece of meat on 4 slices of bread. Top with cooked onions, a slice of cheese, and the top piece of bread. To really melt the cheese and toast the bread, cook each sandwich over low heat until each side is toasty and golden brown.
What’s great about preparing a meal from the ‘50s is that it can be done relatively quickly. Most everything can be made in advance, giving you, as the host or hostess, the chance to enjoy the company you invited over.
2. The ‘50s Feeling
The best way to capture the ‘50s feeling is to take notes from Mad Men, I Love Lucy, or To Catch a Thief. Get everyone in the ‘50s mood by playing the music that defined the era: big band, doo-wop, and rock and roll. A generation was born with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, etc.
3. Signature Beverages
The ‘50s was an era that enjoyed its cocktail hour. Classic drinks such as martinis, Manhattans, or old-fashioned daquiris were typical of the time period, and are still some of the most well liked drinks today.
Sargento covered the costs of the ingredients used in this recipe, but the opinions are my own.
Author Ted Levin is a food lover and cheese aficionado always searching for the newest recipe craze. You can connect with Ted on Twitter.
Image Source: http://www.the50s.tumblr.com