Last night’s episode of Mad Men, “Mystery Date,” was almost an appetite killer given its exploration of men behaving badly. Very badly. The 1966 murder of eight Chicago nurses by Richard Speck was the historical backdrop for an episode in which Greg Miller, the most unlikable TV doctor since forever, returns home briefly to Joan and his infant son only to trot back to Viet Nam where he’s really needed. And Don, in a feverish delirium, dreams of knocking off an old paramour. So, let’s have a drink. Or three.
Mad Men has been filled with Old Fashioneds, Martinis and Manhattans over the first four seasons, so it was refreshing to hear Joan order a gin fizz at the Italian restaurant where she and Greg and their parents retire to celebrate his homecoming, a dinner ruined by Greg’s ham-sized ego and Joan’s discovery that his return to Viet Nam is voluntary.
The family of drinks known as fizz was a creation of New Orleans in the late 19th century and was especially popular in the first half of the 20th century. There are many variations: the basic gin fizz is made with gin, of course, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water (hence the fizz) over rocks. Fizz variations include the use of lime juice, simple syrup, cream, eggs (either the whole egg, just the yolk or just the white), and even crème de menthe. A Sloe Gin Fizz is made with a blackthorn-based spirit (a prune variant).
By the way, when we were her age we would have agreed with Sally’s complaint about the tuna sandwich (see recipe) Henry’s warm and cuddly mother, Pauline Francis, makes for her: “it has relish.” But, according to the authors of Clean Plates: Cooking for Young Children (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964), “with sandwiches, it is pleasant to serve some special condiment such as watermelon pickles, sweet pickles or spiced crabapples. If a child is tired, such an inducement will often start him eating and, once having begun, he will finish the meal with relish.” Oh, really?
Of course today we think relish makes the tuna fish sandwich shine. Tastes change as we mature. Just ask Peggy, flush with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey as she shakes down Roger over the Mohawk Airlines ad campaign.
Relish makes this tuna fish salad recipe from the Mad Men era shine. Adapted from Clean Plates: Cooking for Young Children, Charles Scribners Sons, 1964)
- 1 7 ounce can tuna fish
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Chopped sweet pickles or relish, to taste
- Bread slices, for serving
- In a small bowl, flake tuna fish. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice.
- Mix in chopped sweet pickles or relish to taste and serve on slices of bread.