Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Events of Fifty Years Ago

As 2013 draws to a close, I'm thinking about various anniversaries that have taken place during the past nearly 12 months.
SNCC Sit-in, Atlanta, Georgia, ca. 1963
The year 1963 saw a major effort in favor of civil rights for Americans of all races. In the spring of 1963, the sit-in above took place at a Tottle-House diner. While twenty-first century diners, with their exaggerated menus and retro juke boxes, evoke nostalgia in their younger patrons and may seem to embody the good things of a bygone era, not everything about them was really wonderful. The 1960 sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro NC is perhaps more famous than that of 1963. There were many others: Nashville, Arlington VA, and more.

Martin Luther King, Washington DC, August 28, 1963
At the March on Washington, he gave the famous speech "I have a dream."
During 1963, the civil rights movement was widespread and very active, notably the March on Washington. Sadly, the year also saw violence against peaceful demonstrators, as well as extreme attacks on black people, especially the murder of Medgar Evers on June 12, 1963 and the vicious church bombing in Birmingham on September 15, 1963.

Needless to say, the most significant and lastingly important event of 1963 was the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22. Last month's commemoratives of the event were numerous and moving, so I need not say more. And in 1964, Lyndon Johnson managed to have major civil rights legislation passed, satisfying many of the goals of the movement, though certainly not changing everything that was wrong. We still have far to go in fairness and equality for all, even 50 years onward.

One book about the civil rights struggle published in 1963 was An Education in Georgia by Calvin Trillin and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. I believe it was the first book Calvin Trillin wrote. Since he later became one of the most wonderful food writers I know, I think it's appropriate to mention it here. I've never read it, but I have read Hunter-Gault's autobiography, In My Place, which includes a fascinating account of her struggle as a very young woman to be one of the first blacks to study at the University of Georgia, another big step in the struggle for civil rights.

But now for a completely trivial food fact from 1963: according to the Food Timeline, this was the big year for the introduction into American cuisine of the Black Forest Cake. While based on a German original, the Black Forest Cake was newly popular in many upscale restaurants and the subject of American recipe versions.

Random current image of a Black Forest Cake from this blog
"While the ingredients and general method of Black Forest Cake can be traced through hundreds of years, food historians generally agree this recipe belongs to the 20th century," states the Food Timeline. "We find no evidence of anything close to Black Forest Cake, as we know it today, in our small collection of 19th-20th century German-American cooking texts. The earliest recipes we find are dated 1960s." This source particularly cites a recipe from The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton, published in 1963 -- I couldn't find any images that claimed to use her recipe, though.

Two other trends of 1963: Beatlemania, or enormous love of the Beatles was just beginning. And a wave of enthusiasm for Mona Lisa was inspired by her visit early in 1963 to the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, thanks to the diplomacy of Jacqueline Kennedy.
Mona Lisa visits the US: the painting is now too fragile to travel,
so this was probably her last trip out of Paris.
Note: I've added a duplicate of this post to my other blog, .

1 comment:

Mae Travels said...

I'm not the only one thinking about Black Forest Cake. My cousin wrote that she attended a party where one was entirely consumed the night before my blog post. And at The Guardian, there's an article about how to make one:
"How to make the perfect black forest gateau: Is black forest gateau a much maligned work of Germanic genius, or a dish best left with steak diane back in 1976?"