A Blast From the Past: The L.A. Times Opens Their Online Recipe Vault

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

There’s something both sweet and intriguing about looking back through old magazines and newspapers to see what dishes were popular way back when. Flipping through my mom’s food magazines from the 80’s reveals strangely complex appetizers, a million variations on cooking shrimp, and heavy cream sauces. If you don’t have a mother with decades-old magazines at the ready, you’re in luck: The L.A. Times has opened up the recipe vault on their site, a veritable cultural study in the past few decades or so in food.

What’s so intriguing about these recipes? I think it’s easy to get caught up in the cultural food moment so many of us find ourselves in (hooray for kale; let’s try juicing for the New Year; baking with whole grains sounds interesting) that you forget what a vast and varied food history our country has had even in the most recent past. In 1994 for example, Indian food was becoming more in vogue with home cooks experimenting with lentils and saag. Later in 2000, salmon and creamy pork chops were the food du jour. In scanning through the years, I see evidence of what I ate growing up, a sign that my mom was likely dog-earing recipes from food magazines back then and trying approaches that home cooks were excited about at the time. If anything, this recipe vault is an entertaining journey down memory lane.