Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Original California Cuisine, Sunset Magazine Remembers When.

BEFORE Alice Waters picked her first Little Gem lettuce and Wolfgang Puck draped smoked salmon across a pizza, California cuisine meant something else. 

This is the first statement in a article from the NY Times article chronicling the influence Sunset Magazine has had on informing people about what California Cuisine is all about. The article goes on to examine the original California Cuisine based largely in grilled meats, salads and avocados from the article. It's really amazing how this magazine kept up with the lifestyle and cooking trends of the largely little known but very coveted West coast lifestyle. Through the 50's and 60's the mystic of the West was something that Eastern readers could only glimpse through it's pages. And largely it helped to inform those who had moved into this state in alarming numbers during this time on how that state's culture was devleoping. Even in a sense what it meant to be a modern Californian.

There is mention of "Patio Style" Cooking being the central theme in this early 50's and 60's home food movement in California. However there are also mentions of some old-school California dishes grilled BBQ turkey, cioppino, barbecued oysters, Crab Louis and fish tacos included amongst the descriptions of Tri-tip Sirloin Santa Maria Style, patio salads with citrus and Date Milkshakes. 

The point made was in the article that unlike in the East there was an ease and casual nature to dining and entertaining in California in the 1960's. No fussy white table clothes were on the menu and no ornate china and silver set ups. Also the point was that anyone could be a Californian by embracing this new open thinking, outdoor casual way of lifestyle and cooking which was showcased non better than by Sunset Magazine. It's readership included amongst others, my Parents, who loved the style and ease which Sunset put at the forefront of their articles. Especially since we lived in warm climates where outdoor dining was a way of life and not just a special occasion. These ideas flourished in our home.

Sunset was one of the first magazine's I remember being in our house growing up. It remained the one my folks held onto. They had every volume from 1965 on in bookshelves in out house. As of late my Mother tried to give them to the local library, but sadly they were not interested and they ended up in the recycling. Before we threw them out I flipped through some of the older ones just to see what was up and made an interesting conclusion. Nothing was so radically different from the magazines I read today. Sure the stories and the articles were specific to the time but the themes and the overall ideas were the same we see in todays lifestyle magazines everywhere. 

As far as cooking is concerned I give you a recipe for your summer BBQ. that if you try will give you a little bit of the taste of the old Californian style. Make sure you use the powdered garlic and parsley cause it just won't taste right otherwise. Give it a try it's an old staple in my house growing up even through we never called it by it's proper name. Enjoy Ya'll.

Santa-Maria Style Grilled Tri-tip
Based on the original Sunset Magazine recipe served 8

2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 beef tri-tip (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), preferably with some fat on one side. ( you can find this cut at Trader Joe's a California based chain or else you will have to get your butcher to cut it for you)
1. In small bowl, mix garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley; rub well into meat. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, soak 2 cups red oak chips in water for at least 20 minutes (optional). Prepare a medium-size fire on one side of a charcoal or gas grill. Add chips to fire, if using. Set tri-tip over fire, fat side up (with a gas grill, close lid), and brown well, 3 to 5 minutes; turn over and brown other side.
3. Move meat over area of the grill without fire, cover, and turn every 10 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 125 to 130 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
4. Place meat on cutting board to rest at least 15 minutes. Slice across the grain.
Note: Red oak chips are available online from susieqbrand.com.

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