1961: “Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook” by Louis Diat

Truffled Capon.

Vintage food photography continues to fascinate me, especially the quaint-yet-complex aesthetics of 1960s-era French cookery. Within an historical context, the early 1960s proved to be a pivotal era for both French and American cuisine: In France, the death if Fernand Point in 1955 marked the passing of a legend, but at the same time, Point’s legacy and influence would become even more widespread, thanks to his impressive stable of proteges (among them, Alain Chapel, Georges Perrier, the Troisgros Brothers, and Paul Bocuse). Meanwhile, in the United States, Americans were slowly becoming aware of French cuisine in the early 1960s. Helping to foster this awakening, Craig Claiborne began his stint as the “New York Times” Food Editor in 1957, while Julia Child made her television debut in 1963.

As for “Gourmet” magazine, the now-defunct publication was just 20 years old when “Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook” made its debut in 1961. I found a copy of this cookbook in Berkeley a few weeks ago, along with several other well-kept cookbooks from the same era (someone unloaded a pretty nice collection, apparently). It may seem difficult to believe that “Gourmet’s Basic French Cookbook” is already a half-century old today. Then again, the food styling is practically archaic (classic?) in its charm. Anyhow, please consider the following photos as your mental preparation for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast. Indulge!

Jambon Persillé an Gelée, or Parsleyed Ham in Aspic.

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Seafood mousse.

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Blanquette de Veau.

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Côtes de Veau Braisées à la Chartres, or Braised Veal Chops with Gravy.

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Homard Albert.

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Il Flottante, also known as the Floating Island.

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Baked Alaska.

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