Our concept of food in 2017 is radically different than it was in 1938; or even 1968, for that matter. In some cases our foods and our choices over those foods have changed for the better and for the much-much worse.
A reminder: in 1938, there was no fast food – no freeze-dried, no microwave, no additives. Factory farming hadn’t been introduced and canned goods were recent revelations on the epicurean landscape. We were not conscious of fats (the good ones or the bad ones) GMO‘s hadn’t been heard of and calories were abstract concepts. Frying foods was the norm – non-fat or low-fat didn’t exist and wouldn’t exist until World War 2 when wartime necessities made food substitutes and this sort of manipulation of our food stuffs possible.
Canning was a big deal – Frozen foods were only just coming about. And on top of everything, we were slowly digging ourselves out of a depression and food had to last and be economical.
Aside from the social/political aspects inherent at the time (the concept of the full-time homemaker), the focus here is on the food itself and how it was prepared, and what constituted healthy eating. Cooking shows were coming into vogue, because most “women’s magazines” utilized a lot of pages, as well as advertising, on food products and recipes.
This show, like so many cooking programs around during the late 1930s, isn’t as much nuts-and-bolts as it is making it entertaining. Piano accompaniment – a dramatic problem posed, and solutions posed which we would find strange today.
But this was cutting edge – this was the state of Modern eating in 1938. As is evidence by the “perfect kitchen” above. Everything considered new and ground-breaking; all the way down to a desk and phone in the kitchen – this was designed to be the nerve center of the family home – where everything came from and where most hours were designed to spent by the average housewife.
A whole different time, 79 years ago – most of which would seem very foreign to us now. But this was the state of living, and the definition of modern life at the time.
Much of what is discussed and prepared we wouldn’t consider eating today, or at least not in the manner they it’s described.
But this is what we were all about then – this was day-to-day life as seen in 1938.
For the next 15 minutes, here is Martha Lane’s Kitchen from 1938.