"Mad Men" is delicious in so many ways, you might not even notice the food. But characters on the AMC drama, wrapping up its fifth season on Sunday, eat all the time — from Peggy's Chinese carryout in the copywriters' room to the boeuf bourguignon Megan Draper recently whipped up for husband Don.
Two of those keeping an eye on every bite are Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, who published "The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook" last year and follow the series in their obsessively detailed Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook blog. Gelman and Zheutlin, who are married, tell fans where the Drapers bought the brownies they took to Pete and Trudy's dinner party (Greenberg's on Madison Avenue, where they cost $36 a dozen today) and explained that the "Sno Ball" the copywriters tackled was a Pepsi product similar to today's Icee. They even provide recipes.
But Gelman and Zheutlin aren't the only ones analyzing "Mad Men" dinner tables. In their "fabulous and opinionated" blog, Tom and Lorenzo break down every episode for style and sustenance. Food-centric sites such as Epicurious.com offer tips on how to entertain ... la "Mad Men," and Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean just published "The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook."
The catch — food of the 1960s (currently, "Mad Men" is on the cusp of 1967) can be more fun to talk about than to eat. Women of the era, who still ruled in the kitchen, were newly enchanted by quick tricks dreamed up by food companies and promoted by ad execs like Don Draper. Why make a sauce when canned soup would work perfectly? Why whip cream when you could buy it in a can — or bring home a fake version in a tub? (Cool Whip was about to launch when Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce pitched an ad campaign for it.)
But some 1960s dishes remain nostalgically tasty. Here, we imagine some menus ... la "Mad Men," considering what characters might cook for special occasions. Maybe some of these will sustain us in the long wait for Season 6.
MEGAN'S SOPHISTICATED COCKTAIL SOIREE
Megan Draper is young (lots younger than husband Don) and hip (much hipper than Don, too). When she threw a surprise birthday party for him, the food was young and hip, too. In the mid-1960s, America fell in love with the toothpick, so Megan would have speared everything from meatballs to bacon-wrapped chicken livers on toothpicks topped with frills. We also became obsessed with dip in those years, sometimes still called "dunk" at the time, so she surely would have had plenty of bowls of goop, maybe with Utz potato chips for dunking. Recipe — Sweet-and-Sour Party Meatballs