White Christmas (1954) is probably one of my favorite holiday films. I did not grow up watching it. In fact, my husband was the one who introduced me to it, but I fell in love. It's got everything - WWII, great relationships, music, dancing, everything wonderful and awful about putting on a show (former theater nerd, here), and of course, a heartwarming tale in a beautiful setting. Not to mention Bing Crosby's velvet voice.
So when a friend, who had never seen White Christmas, suggested I make a dinner menu to go along with the film, I couldn't resist. She knew I'd done similar menus before (Star Wars and The Hobbit, respectively, both birthday parties I threw myself), but this one was fun because I could delve into all my vintage cookbooks for ideas.
Now, there are a few foods mentioned or shown in the film. One of the first (and best) is the scene in the club car on the way to Vermont. Mentioned or shown foods include:
The other major scene is after hours, when sandwiches and buttermilk are the order of the day. Mentioned or pictured in this scene are:
Other foods shown include hotdogs by the fire and, of course, the General's enormous birthday cake. Clearly dinner is served in that scene, but it's difficult to see what.
There was an added hiccup in all this menu planning - the friend in question is vegetarian. So guess what? A lot of that list is out the window! But I relish a good challenge, so I took to my cookbooks and got thinking. And here's what I came up with:
I based my recipes largely on the foods of the late 1940s, focusing on New England recipes. Because although White Christmas was released in 1954, and clearly takes place in the 1950s, it was influenced by the earlier (and slightly more racist) Holiday Inn, which came out in 1942. In addition, the WWII connection between Bob and Phil (a.k.a. Wallace & Davis), made me think this menu needed a little bit of a 1940s flavor.
Here's the menu:
No, those aren't typos - "lentilwurst" is what I call vegetarian liverwurst and while everything was good, that was the surprise hit of the night. I wish I had made a double batch because it was gone almost instantly. Maple Sirup (also not a typo - that's how they spelled it in the cookbook) Gingerbread was another delightful (if rather expensive) hit. Thankfully, we did not eat the whole cake in one sitting, although two days later we're down to the last piece.
In an effort to spare you from the world's longest blog post, I'm going to be posting the recipes each day this week (probably more than one per day) as their own blog posts. Don't worry - I'll link them back here as they're posted so you can always find everything in one spot. You should get the whole menu before the weekend - just in time to plan a White Christmas Dinner and a Movie of your own! Happy eating!
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.
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