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WOW Celebrates Mid-Century Art and Jazz through the Lens of Food

Decorative jello mold on a plate surrounded by mint leaves and topped with maraschino cherries

Just as jazz and the blues ignited rock and roll, Stuart Davis’s impact on both Modernism and Pop art is undeniable.  Perhaps one of the great virtues of the Davis exhibition at Crystal Bridges is its uncanny ability to make us all look back at mid-century life in America through the lens of not only music and art…but also food.

 

The most recent Wednesday Over Water (WOW) allowed us to pay homage to the very stylized, bright, highly processed edible culture of the late 1950s and 60s.  We did a deep dive into old cookbooks, home journals, and family kitchen rolodexes for ideas and recipes that best represented life in a simpler, more sanitized America.

 

Guests were treated to not only an edible centerpiece that featured a carefully manicured whole pineapple embellished with pierced melon balls, spam, cherries, and chèvre-coated grapes; but also a classic meatloaf swathed in sweet ketchup, scalloped potatoes steeped in butter and cream, and a gelatin dessert that seemed to simultaneously both titillate and disconcert the audience.

 

pineapple decorated with skewers of fruit

 

 

 

We ended the boisterous evening with an updated cocktail standard, The Jam-Hattan, a classic bourbon-based drink brightened with homemade cherry jam; dangerous, delicious and worthy of a cocktail party at Don Draper’s Madison Avenue office.

 

The Loaf

cast iron skillet holding sliced meatloaf and potatoes

 

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 slices bread
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Asiago cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • dash pepper
  • 1/8 cup flat-leaf parsley (minced)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)

The Sauce

  • 1  1/2 cups ketchup
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard

Technique

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soak the bread in the milk for about 2 minutes until bread is soggy.
  2. Add beef, Asiago cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, parsley, and eggs.
  3. Stir together until just combined; stop!  Do your best NOT to over mix–I mean it!
  4. Place meat on a foil-lined baking sheet or a broiler pan and form into a loaf shape. Place in oven.
  5. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a separate bowl. Spoon sauce on top of the meatloaf and let it drizzle over the sides. (I also like the sauce on the side, for (uh) dipping.
  6. Bake for 1 hour – Devour!

 

The Jam-hattan

collection of ingredients for the jam-hattan cocktail

 

Tehnique 

Combine the whiskey, vermouth, jam, rose water, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.

Stir carefully 27 times – taking great pains NOT to bruise the whiskey. Strain over ice into a rocks glass, and garnish with a skewer of Luxardo maraschino cherries.

 

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