• January 31, 2023

1971 Was Food’s Most Important Year—Ever

Once a month, Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Dawn Davis shares her thoughts by taking over our newsletter. You will find recipes she cooks, stories she loves, where she ate and much more. It gets better: if you Sign up for our newsletterYou will get this letter before anyone else.

I can’t remember exactly what interested me in 1971. It could have started with a splinter: after all, half a century is a natural turning point. What I do know is that the discoveries that the razor-sharp Bon Appétit team and I made over the year sparked a lot of discussion and raised the question: “Is 1971 the year that changed everything in culinary terms?

If you’ve watched the great documentary, The Black Godfather, you’ll remember a graphic that shows the endless influence of music manager Clarence Avant. He influenced several generations of artists who then influenced subsequent generations. Elyse Inamine’s coverage also shows the enormous reach of Alice Waters who opened her groundbreaking restaurant. In panicWhen I wrote my book about cooks If you can take the heatA few years ago I remember one cook after another quoting the impact of Waters, especially the way she gave them the right to look to Europe in their garden for inspiration. Another woman I have met in connection with this book Edna Lewistook steps again this year and finished the race The Edna Lewis Cookbook, the first title in what would be an illustrious catalog.

A very 2021-meets-1971 Beef Wellington by Test Kitchen Director Chris Morocco.

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Victoria Granof, prop styling by Sophie Strangio

It is also the year that companies started out small and are now giants of oversized influence all of what we drink (Starbucks) too how we hack (Cuisinart). It saw the rise of the salad bar, which I only recognized as a funny invention while reading Samantha Irby’s funny take on itand the publication of a landmark book that seeks solutions to problems that preoccupy us to this day. Diet for a small planet. When you read Jonathan Kauffman’s reflection on the book’s anniversaryI think you will be surprised at what you learn.

Changes in culinary culture do not take place in a vacuum. Much has been written about 1970s politics, but I was particularly impressed with the explosion of cultural content. My favorite discovery was that Soul Train – created, produced and hosted by Don Cornelius – also debuted in 1971 and forever changed the way exuberance is expressed through dance.

Speaking of exuberance, we’ve been through a lot in the past 12 months: lots of emotions and lots of dirty dishes to start with. We need comfort and joy. For more convenience, we have a selection of simple but rich dishes that you will want to prepare again and again. Andy Baraghani Fry the beef with celery is as tasty as it is fragrant; the spicy shrimp pilaf I wanted seconds. We are delighted to have recipes from Chris Morocco that will add some impressive moments to your holiday table contemporary interpretation of beef Wellington (Hello, 1971!) To a modern collection of Passover dishes, as well as a living feature on Holi, a Hindu spring festival for new beginnings with lots of color.

Finally, in preparation for spring, I asked Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, an Ayurvedic practitioner, to share the link between eating and cleansing our body, which is appropriate not only because a new season is coming, but also because we could all need some refreshment after a difficult year.

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Jack

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