“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.
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.
“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 standard 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.
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.