Retro-Future Party Foods
November 29, 2007 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Dear Ask Metafilter: I'm searching for recipes from the future of the past.

An entertaining group I'm a part of is throwing a "Christmas of the Future" party; the theme is futuristic as envisioned in the 50s and 60s (leaving quite a bit of wiggle room for personal aesthetics and wild inaccuracies).

The drinks will be:
Interstellar Blues (champagne punch with blue curacao)
Cosmic Kiss (a vodka-amaretto-cranberry drink)
Egg Nog (of the FUTURE! Using Egg-Beaters for the latest in modern sanitation! [see what I was saying about inaccuracies?])

We are trying to hammer out our food menu with recipes that fit all, or at least most, of the following criteria:

1) Can be prepared ahead of time, transported from the maker's home to the party location, and served with a minimum of heating/complex arrangement/etc. Thus, much to my dismay, Baked Alaska and other similarly fussy foods are right out

2) Has a futuristic "look:" old-fashioned foods in an unusual form, newfangled ingredients or combinations, strange colors, etc. The party decor is very much in the light, sparkly, minimalist vein, with white lights, unnatural Christmas trees, and giant glitter-bedecked ornaments. So anything that seems like it would fit with this look is great; but

3) Also has some claim to retro-ism; foods that reflect a naive and old-fashioned idea of what The Future would be like.

4) Yumminess has priority over sticking to the theme. We are not closed to the idea of, say, Jello mold, but want to make one that will not horrify the modern palate.

5) Speaking of the's easy to dress up sweets with powdered sugar, food coloring and nonpariels and call it a day, but it's a recipe for badness to have lots of liquor and only sugary foods. So ideas for savory treats of the Future are especially appreciated (although please share your knockout dessert ideas as well)!

I've perused the relevant threads here (like this one), and checked out the Gallery of Regrettable Food, the 1974 Weight Watchers Cards, and RetroLife, but I still hunger for more. Lay them on me!
posted by hilatron to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You may want to check out the book "Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads". It is divided by decade, and the recipes are a mix of faddy stuff we'd never do now, to surprisingly good recipes. Be warned, though, that the thing in the 50's was that pre-made or canned foods (TV dinners, jello, vienna susages, etc), were considered to be chic and the wave of the future.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:28 AM on November 29, 2007

Space food!
posted by TedW at 11:31 AM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: Space Food Sticks.

A roasted chicken with twelve legs.
posted by studentbaker at 11:32 AM on November 29, 2007

Serve the jello on a light table.
posted by pammo at 11:39 AM on November 29, 2007

You might also look into some recipes from the Automat. The book being promoted here claims to have some.
posted by TedW at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: Cubed Hard Boiled Eggs?

To continue withe studentbaker's idea, I think it was on a Reading Rainbow other books part of the show and the book was about royal court life and at banquets, they would sew together the front part of a pig with the back part of a pheasant. I think it'd be hilarious to serve a dish of a "mutated" roast animal.
posted by spec80 at 11:53 AM on November 29, 2007

Soylent Green?
Wikipedia says "Soylent's food products are mostly distributed as brightly colored wafers which may be eaten with margarine, although they are also seen being sold as bread-like buns and in crumb form."
Sounds like you could make some sort of biscuits and add green food coloring.
posted by Shebear at 11:53 AM on November 29, 2007

A good place to start would be with the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. The theme was "Exploring America's Space Age."

You could take a look at the Good Housekeeping recipe book from the fair.

Maybe if you sign up for this site, you can see a 28 page restaurant information guide from the Fair.

This description made me hungry:

"The Fair boasted that it had 112 restaurants. Many featured international dining and "continental cuisine" at a time when restaurants of this type were not common in America .... At the India pavilion one could experience tandorri and paratha; the Korean pavilion featured kimchio, the Japanese pavilion served sukiyaki and tempura; one could taste markouk at the Lebanese pavilion restaurant or try homas and shaurmah at Jordan's restaurant; and for a real adventurous treat, sample special African delicacies including chicken, lamb and pork dishes ganished with a peanut suace at the Tree House Restaurant in the African pavilion. And at the Hawaiian pavilion, in the Five Volcanoes Restaurant, one could participate in a luau.

"The Spanish pavilion had three of the best restaurants and they captured nearly all of the Fair's blue ribbons. The "Toledo" had an elegant haute cuisine, the casual "Granada" a spicy Spanish menu, and the open-air "Taberna Marisquerra" featured Spanish snacks, seafood and pitchers of sangria (red wine and soda with lemon and orange slices.

"Many of the World's Fairs were long remembered for a fast food sensation introduced at the exposition. ... [T]he 1964 New York World's Fair had the "Bel-Gem" waffle. Of course it orginated at the Belgium Village, but it was also all available all over the Fair. It was constructed of a fat, fluffy waffle base that was piled high with strawberries and topped with whipped cream."
posted by GarageWine at 12:07 PM on November 29, 2007

You might try to get a copy of the Futurist Cookbook.

I can't find an online versions, but there are a few recipe descriptions in the second link and I have one recipe on file:

The Excited Pig (formula by the Futurist Aeropainter Fillia): A whole salami, skinned, is served upright on a dish containing some very hot black coffee mixed with a good deal of eau de Cologne.

It also suggests operating gasoline engines in the dining room to simulate the experience of dining in an airplane. It's just full of helpful hints. (If nothing else, get a copy to decorate your coffee table.)
posted by clockwork at 12:08 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking Jello has to be involved. Lots of Jello. In different shapes and colors.

Also: Tang!

And maybe freeze-dried ice cream.

You could also have some kind of small candy wafers and label them as "food pills."
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:09 PM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: You can make canapes using this boomerang cookie cutter. I suggest white bread with Miracle Whip, individually wrapped cheese slices, and olive loaf.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2007

Tang and Vodka

Detente in space
posted by Megafly at 12:31 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The future was full of food in pills! Food is for suckers!

Make kabobs on steel sticks and stick the ends into a foam ball or something similar so it looks like a Googie Sputnik.

I was once served sorbet in a minture ice sculpture swan with a raver-style lightstick up its butt so the whole things glowed. That's really futuristic. Perhaps you can use a Jello mold to accomplish something similar?

Shouldn't it involve dry ice, somehow, just to make it all Flash Gordon?
posted by Gucky at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: deviled eggs! you could dye the yolk mixture with food coloring. who knows, you might even be able to paint dots on the whites with food coloring.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2007

You should play the Buzzcock's "Nostalgia" at the party (cuz I'm surfing on a wave of nostalgia for an age yet to come..).
posted by mds35 at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2007

It won't actually solve your problem of needing food, but it might be amusing to put out a plate of multi-vitamins and label them "dinner".

You should take a recipe that calls for tofu and a relatively lightly-colored sauce and add lots of green food coloring. Or you could follow this recipe. No idea if it's any good. In either case, add a sign saying "Made from artificial people". On that note, What Sci-Fi Movies Say about Future Food.
posted by ErWenn at 1:13 PM on November 29, 2007

Make everything with Crisco
posted by nax at 1:46 PM on November 29, 2007

Response by poster: These are some genius ideas; thanks! I have exercised great restraint and not marked everything best answer, but really, even those answers which have not inspired immediate dish-planning have been enlightening and inspiring. Please keep them coming!
posted by hilatron at 2:01 PM on November 29, 2007

You need The Gallery of Regrettable Food
posted by happyturtle at 3:41 PM on November 29, 2007

Check out the Time Life Series Cookbooks -- American Cooking
posted by greenchile at 3:43 PM on November 29, 2007

Ohh, you need whipped jello (with more careful planning about transportation, I think it would be doable, either skipping the whipped cream or bringing it in a separate plasticware and pouring it on top when you get there, and preferably driving instead of walking and carrying it).

Also possibly baked mac'n'cheese.
posted by anaelith at 4:48 PM on November 29, 2007

How about mini-pizzas--they could be like the pre-cooked version of the one in Back to the Future II, where she puts this little tiny pizza in a rehydrator machine, and it blows up to full size in seconds.
Look, here's a picture!
posted by exceptinsects at 5:48 PM on November 29, 2007

Please consider that egg beaters is just egg whites with color and stabilizer, and acts very differently than eggs with yolk. Maybe just lie about using it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:54 PM on November 29, 2007

Response by poster: Please consider that egg beaters is just egg whites with color and stabilizer, and acts very differently than eggs with yolk. Maybe just lie about using it?

Actually, the egg beaters nog is the tried-and-true recipe of one of my fellow hostesses, in circulation for many Christmases now. I am personally ignorant in the ways of nog, so I don't know how she did it, but it is delicious.
posted by hilatron at 6:45 PM on November 29, 2007

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