As we drove west, we didn't search for traces of old Route 66, but it seemed as if old Route 66 came after us! I realize now that on one trip or another in the last few years, we've followed just about every segment of the old "Mother Road." More distantly, on family trips west in my childhood, I often traveled the original Route 66. So I couldn't resist ordering The Route 66 Cookbook
by Marian Clark when Ruby showed me her copy. (Lots of copies for sale on amazon!)
This cookbook dates from the early 1990s. It gives quite a bit of the history of Route 66 from 1929 until the sixties. It also documents sights to see and businesses, especially diners and restaurants, that were still in business then; that is, around 25 years ago. Quite a few were in their sunset years and thus no longer exist in any form. The current Route 66 has quite a lot of reconstructed nostalgia, while evidently more of the old establishments and buildings still endured in a more original form 25 years ago. The book is thus a testimony to Route 66 in several different eras, all quite different from NOW.
The headings on the recipes in the book don't actually identify when they were collected or exactly how the author obtained them. Sometimes the original recipe that served a whole day's diner customers is given -- such as a recipe that calls for 11 pie shells to be filled with a rather large vat of filling, or a bread recipe that calls for over a pound of yeast
. There are many recipes for chile, spaghetti, pies, and other diner foods. Sometimes the recipes are obviously trimmed down to serve a small number or even a single person.
The recipes are definitely very retro, looking to me a lot like women's magazine recipes from the 1950s. They use a lot of processed ingredients such as garlic powder, canned soup, canned pineapple, and catsup. The favorites of that era are not really favorites any more, I think. I am not sure I want to make any!
As I said, it seemed as if Route 66 was coming to us, as in the following examples, most of them mentioned in the book:
- On the way through Missouri both coming and going this month, we saw the old familiar signs on barn roofs and billboards advertising Meramec Caverns, the hideout of outlaw Jesse James. I also remember seeing these signs along that route long ago -- and childhood trips to see the caverns where the huge "waterfall" of stalactites and stalagmites. I believe they used to project an image of the American flag onto the cavern wall and play the Star Spangled Banner. Wonder if they still do.
- As we crossed the Mississippi last Wednesday over the bridge on Route 270 we were quite close to the old Chain of Rocks bridge that once carried Route 66 across the river. As kids, we used to go out to that area sometimes on a ride in the country, and cross into Illinois.
- Lots of hints about 66 are along the highway now in Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle... I already wrote about the old Conoco Station and Diner in Shamrock (now the tourist information office) and the Midway Cafe.
- Entering Santa Fe last week, we took the old Santa Fe trail to avoid going into the center of town on our way to the Audubon Center. Yup, it was once part of Route 66 when that road went through Santa Fe instead of straight on to Albuquerque. The old adobe buildings with their privacy walls were probably the same then, as they had been for a few centuries before the road got its number.
- For our most recent trip, we drove on from Albuquerque to Tucson, but many other times we have continued the Route 66 way, through the Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Flagstaff, down through the mountains, to Barstow and finally thorough LA. Yes, right to the Pacific Ocean. And on so many stops to fuel up the car and eat a hamburger, we've seen the signs: OLD 66.
|The cookbook is illustrated with lots of little ads and photos|
of the diners and other places along Route 66.