Mad Men Season 6 Premiere: From the Fire Pit to the Bowery Pot to the Fondue Pot

bh Mad Men Season 6 Premiere: From the Fire Pit to the Bowery Pot to the Fondue Pot

Meghan enjoys a Blue Hawaii on the beach in Waikiki

“The Doorway,” the premiere episode of Mad Men Season 6, opens in Hawaii, where Meghan is reaching for a Blue Hawaii (see our recipe), while sunbathing on the beach. She and Don are vacationing at Honolulu’s Royal Hawaiian, “The Pink Palace of the Pacific,” guests of Bob Grange of Sheraton Hotels, and his wife Patsy. The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927 and sits on Waikiki beachfront. Sheraton purchased the hotel in 1959 and expanded it in the 1960s, when Hawaii tourism was booming. In 1968, just after the Draper’s December 1967 trip, Hawaii had its first million visitor year.

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1960s postcard from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

The Granges introduce Don and Meghan to Hawaii’s “unique local flavor” with a luau. “The feast of the islands is the perfect expression of Hawaiian hospitality,” wrote Erma Meeks Boyen in The Hawaii Cookbook published in 1968. But food alone doesn’t make the luau: “It is the genial atmosphere of the music, flowers and colorful clothing and the lovely hula dancers that add to the romance of this time honored Hawaiian feast,” wrote Boyen.

Poipudding Mad Men Season 6 Premiere: From the Fire Pit to the Bowery Pot to the Fondue Pot

Poi pudding, a Hawaiian staple served at the Royal Hawaiian luau

“Everything you see in on your plate is what you find at a Royal Hawaiian Feast,” Don and Meghan’s luau host assures them. “The purple poi is pudding. It’s strange but satisfying,” he jokes.  “We say that it’s ono which means easy but you might just say ‘oh no!’”

Native Hawaiian poi, a pasty staple made from cooked taro root pounded to a smooth paste and mixed with water, or milk, is thought to be an acquired taste. (Bob cautions Don it tastes like “wallpaper paste.”) Hawaiians cook the starchy root in the imu or underground oven for hours. The Hawaii Cookbook suggests offering non-natives the Tahitian recipe of mixing poi with mashed banana.

The Hawaiian macaroni salad the Drapers sample is a staple of the Hawaii-style plate lunch, which accompanies meat and rice. The mayonnaise dressing is thinned with milk and flavored with sugar and vinegar. The pasta is very soft to help it absorb the sauce, and vegetables such as carrots and celery are added for crunch.

The traditional luau pig, or Kalua pig, is filled with hot rocks and covered with banana leaves, then lowered into the imu where it’s steamed with bananas and sweet potatoes surrounding it. No wonder this “sensory” experience stayed with Don when he created his ad campaign, “Hawaii. The Jumping Off Point.”

Meanwhile, back in New York, Betty is helping squatters in the Lower East Side’s St. Mark’s Place make a pot of goulash with pork butt, onion, lentils and paprika, a communal dish in keeping with the spirit of St. Mark’s Place. The street, named for progressive St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, was host to a community of anti-establishment young people and students in the 1960s.

One of our favorite recipes (coming soon) is Szekely Goulash, made with pork, from the classic 1960s Hungarian Family Cookbook by Jolie Gabor, mother of Eva and Zsa Zsa. Goulash, the best-known Hungarian meat dish, is a stew of meat, noodles and vegetables seasoned with spices. It dates to the Hungarian Magyar tribes’ migration around 600 AD, when herdsman, gathered around an open fire and for their meal, combined meat and vegetables over campfires. “There is no  Mad Men Season 6 Premiere: From the Fire Pit to the Bowery Pot to the Fondue Potstandard method nor precise ingredients for making goulash,” wrote Gabor. “With the Hungarian fondness for creation and originality, much has been added to make this hearty meal, the most inspired of which was Hungarian paprika. It is judicious blending of Hungarian paprika to the goulash that makes it such a superb dish.”

Also seen on Mad Men last night: Betty and Sally’s friend Sandy enjoy a late night snack of Ritz Crackers with peanut butter.

The buttery crackers (the slogan during the late 60s was “no matter how hard you try, you just can’t disguise that beautiful buttery Ritz taste.”) were named, according to the manufacturer, Nabisco, to conjure wealth and affluence when they were introduced during the Great Depression. Mad Men Season 6 Premiere: From the Fire Pit to the Bowery Pot to the Fondue Pot

And, of course, there was the fondue. Meghan hosts a fondue party that includes Dr. Arnold Rosen and his wife Sylvia, serving cheese fondue (see our post and recipe), followed by chocolate fondue for dessert, with her new fondue pot from Bloomingdale’s kitchen store.

Mad Men Premiere Recipe: Dipping into Season 6 with Classic Cheese Fondue

 Mad Men Premiere Recipe: Dipping into Season 6 with Classic Cheese Fondue

Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe (image and recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking (Meredith, 1970)

We’ve been expecting to see some fondue on Mad Men —  it is the late1960’s after all — and are happy to know that we’ll be doing some dunking to kick off the season.

Meghan Calvet Draper takes on fondue in tonight’s Season 7 premiere. Her recipe secret: rubbing the pot with a clove of garlic and doubling the amount of Kirschwasser.

“Out of a fervent desire to utilize hardened cheese, the Swiss concocted a mouth-watering cheese-wine mixture,” wrote the editors of Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking (Meredith, 1970). Dunking small pieces of bread, vegetables and meat into hot cheese wine sauce quickly became one of the hottest food fads of the late 1960s

“Now is the time of the fondue,” wrote Jean Hewitt her 1969 New York Times article, “For Dips or Dinners, Fondue Is Popular.”

“Supper or dinner may well turn out to be a communal dunking-pot affair,” added Hewitt. “These days, brides-to-be are counting up the number of duplicate fondue pots and forks they receive as they used to tick off silver compotes.”

Enthusiasm for fondue cooking generated a slew of cookbooks, including The Gold Medal Fondue Cookbook, also published in 1970. According to author Marie Roberson Hamm, fondue in the “Age of Aquarius” was “a culinary game for young partiers, one that can level all company to a state of euphoria. Who can resist the fun of dunking their merry way through a fondue meal? It pleases men as much if not perhaps little bit more than women.”

Will it please both the men and women of Mad Men tonight?

For our recipe, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking (Meredith, 1970), we heeded Meghan’s suggestion of rubbing the pot with garlic.  If you’d like to use Kirschwasser, a cherry brandy commonly used in Swiss fondue recipes, substitute 1 tablespoon of sauterne with  tablespoon with Kirschwasser.

(For a  premiere cocktail recipe, see our Blue Hawaii).

We look forward to sharing  food and drink highlights of the new season of Mad Men along with culinary history and recipes!

Classic Cheese Fondue

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10 servings (as appetizer)

 Mad Men Premiere Recipe: Dipping into Season 6 with Classic Cheese Fondue

Classic Cheese Fondue recipe, as seen on Mad Men Season 6 premiere, dapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking (Meredith, 1970),

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces natural Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 cup white wine, such as sauterne (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Dippers: French or Italian bread, hard rolls, boiled potatoes, cooked chicken shrimp or ham, cherry tomatoes, cooked artichokes, carrot slices, cooked mushroom, celery or green pepper pieces. (see note)

Instructions

  1. Combine cheese with cornstarch in a bowl. Rub inside of heated saucepan with garlic and discard garlic. Pour in sauterne and lemon juice. Warm till air bubbles rise and cover surface. Do not cover or allow to boil. Stir vigorously and constantly from now on.
  2. Add half of the cheese, keeping heat to medium, but not boiling the mixture. When melted add the remaining half of the cheese. After cheese is blended and bubbling, add nutmeg and pepper, stirring continuously.
  3. Quickly transfer to fondue pot; keep warm over fondue burner. If fondue becomes too thick, add a little warmed sauterne. Spear bread cube with fondue fork piercing crust last. Dip bread into fondue and swirl to coat. It’s important to swirl keep fondue in motion. Also keep the cheese bubbly over the fondue burner. It shouldn’t be too hot or it will become stringy, nor should it be too cool or it will become tough.

Notes

Sauterne is a dry to semi-sweet white wine. If you’d like to use Kirschwasser, a cherry brandy commonly used in Swiss fondue recipes, substitute 1 tablespoon of sauterne with 1 tablespoon with Kirschwasser.

All dippers should be bite-sized and each bread cube should have a crust. To estimate how many dippers are needed, consider appetites and accompanying dishes. Generally 1 large loaf of bread serves 6-8. Any cooked meats and vegetables dippers are served warm.

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