Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s by Wendy McClure

When I read very local author Wendy McClure's I'm Not the New Me, I loved her remarks about some old Weight Watcher's recipe cards she found in her parents' basement. In The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan, McClure shares more than 100 of them along with snarky comments. I bought an autographed copy long ago at The Book Cellar (my very local bookstore) and although I browsed through it a few times over the years, I finally read the whole book this month.

Many of these foods look just awful. Crown Roast of Frankfurters? Molded Asparagus Salad? Yikes! I would have liked to read more about the ingredients because when McClure mentions them, they are ghastly. For example, one of the Slender Quenchers is water, sherry extract, and two beef bouillon cubes. Yum! And as if the food itself isn't enough to laugh at, some photos are staged with ridiculous props such as the Veal Stew surrounded by dominoes and the Chicken Kiev being watched by a pair of canoodling ceramic ducks.

As Sallie Tisdale notes in The Best Thing I Ever Tasted, American tastes were far less international in the 1970s than today, and many of these pseudo-ethnic recipes reflect that. The prime example is Marcy's "Enchilada" (the quotation marks are part of the name on the recipe card), which doesn't look like any enchilada I've ever eaten. McClure writes, "We don't know who Marcy is, only that she thinks 'enchilada' is wacky Mexican talk for 'shit on a shingle.'"

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