Sunday, September 6, 2009

The 90s

Celebrity Food

It was the Age of Aquarius, come at last. Tom Petty was Learnin’ to Fly while a number of us nervously snacked on veggie-chips and gazed up, waiting to witness the Hale-Bopp comet making its once-every-4200-years sunward pass. Bopping toward us in the final long blink of the old century, what did it signify about the new one we’d soon be entering? Would we be okay as we drove on into the next millennium?

Crack out the Pinot Grigio, we said. Might as well enjoy the show.

And what a show it had been since the 50s when American Bandstand ruled and Checkers was a cute little cocker spaniel that came with his own controversial politician (Nixon) and then morphed into a Chubby singer. Here in the new era it was Raves – dancing like having a seizure – and Dolly was the newest cute little animal to come with a controversy (cloning). The first Big Mac was sold in Moscow. And we learned about all of these via that ever-spreading genius thing we were now calling the World Wide Web.

Tattooed-and-pierced, grunge-minded youth of the day wore Doc Martens and retro polyester as they sang “Losing My Religion” like daring acolytes drunk on the Eucharist wine behind the sacristy, while baby-boomer Married with Children types fretted about losing data on their hard drives.

As the Dot-com bubble burst and terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, we held our breath, casting an uneasy eye towards the rest of the world.

Twin Towers view from Empire State Building 86...Image via Wikipedia

Some looked inward. Men with thinning hair explored a softer side, accompanying Robert Bly on a drum-beating journey of self-discovery. Others dared to look out. Women went to war alongside men in Kuwait; in the boardrooms of cities big and small, even in video games like the one where uber-sex-symbol Lara Croft’s goal was to conquer a man’s world, we women were pushed-up and plunged out via our Wonderbra, but determined to smash the glass ceiling of our professional lives.

Okay, most of us didn’t exactly aspire to be Lara Croft. Until we vied to have it all on our own terms –– marriage, kids, a career. Also shiny, sleek hair like the cute Rachel on Friends, a style that could be pulled back into a ponytail as we sweated at pilates in the gym.

We tried Feng Shui and environmentally friendly paper. We read Julia Child’s “Appetite for Life” and began a quest for more meaningful experience, much of it involving food. Lemongrass chicken from that Thai place we’d discovered. We could make that! And, hey, who couldn’t master the art of Mexican cooking as long as we didn’t wimp out on the hot sauce?

We rediscovered the power of homemade soup, made even better with fresh produce from local

food growers and organic low-sodium chicken broth. We gorged ourselves on the Food Network, where celebrity chefs fused eclectic combinations and brought them to our tables.

Food Network Logo.Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile, we eyed the coming Y2K crash that the fear mongers and computer-snake-oil salesmen screamed was bound to happen but didn’t. And we inched our way over the line into 2000 celebrating with caviar from a free Russian republic and champagne from a France still in love with a pre-Bush Clinton presidency.


Chow and Chatter said...

oh i love food history cool blog, keep us posted on your up coming book Rebecca

Chris said...

Nice retrospective. It's hard to believe how much I personally have grown in epicurean terms since the 90s. I hadn't thought of how cooking can be a journey that much until reading some of your posts.

Irene Sherlock said...

Thank you all for leaving comments. We love knowing people are reading the blog!