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80's food


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Italian was the new French for a bit in the 80s; California cooking came east then --- the whole seasonal produce attitude and that sort of thing -- and mango salso got big. And, on the more swell level, all those reduction sauces now touted as light and modern replaced Bernaise circa 1981.  Free range chickens, sushi, expensive (and worth it) Indian food...

Speaking of mango salsa, southwestern food and Santa Fe style became big nationally in the late 80's. I remember my first trip to Santa Fe in the late 80's and having seared tuna with mango salsa at the Coyote Cafe. That was a revelation at the time and one of the dishes that sticks out in my memory that I can pinpoint where and when i first had it and my reaction - loved it!.

One thing this topic illustrates is that though some things were familiar to some prior to the 80's, many achieved national prominence in the 80's. The 80's proved to be a great culinary awakening for the United States as more people began exploring more and varied cuisines. Though it may have started prior to the 80's fusion cuisine became a popular catchword in that decade. One of my favorites from the early to mid-80's in NYC was La Maison Japonais, a French-Japanese fusion restaurant. I believe this was also when Norman Van Aken began popularizing a fusion of cuisines of the Americas down in Florida.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Spinach dip served in a bread bowl

Chicken Kiev

McRib sandwiches


Fettucine Alfredo

Baked potato skins (covered in sour cream, chives and bacon bits)

Popcorn shrimp

Long Island Iced Tea

Wine coolers

Mama Fresser and I baked many a frozen Chicken Kiev during the 80's. I still remember the faux-butter filling oozing out from the Kiev onto our trusty cookie sheet.

And who can forget Bartles and Jaymes? During my (relatively) hard-drinking days, I would wash down food from Harold's Chicken Shack with a peach wine cooler.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.


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I second the "Blackened" anything. Wasn't this the era of the "Black and Blue" Burger?

"Wings and Pitchers" specials at all the bars. I ran a bar for a while that had a 10 cent wing night (1.50 for the blue cheese and celery side), and also had a "Long Island Iced Tea" pitcher special another night. Nothing sold draft beer like those 10 cent wings though. I think the 80's really were the decade of the Buffalo Wing.

Didn't escargot do a fling around everything from mid-priced and up for a while? Also, wasn't this Buffet Heaven? I remember some rather upscale places dividing dining space between "Buffet Side" and "Menu Side" at the time.

Seems like "Deep Dish" pizza had a run there. Oh, and "Tournadoes" everywhere. Wine coolers. Frozen drinks were silly then, as well. Artichokes and Avocado.

I was primarily in large Metro areas in the Southeast at the time, so your milage may vary.

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From "Southern Living- 30 Years of Our Best Recipes":

A sampling....from the '80's

Stuffed green peppers

Low Country Cooking: Seafood Boil,Carrot Cake....

Microwave Casseroles- ill advised!

Egg Foo Young, Stir Fry Beef

Curry, anything Curry!

Caesar salad

Strawberry Shortcake

Sloppy Joes

Skillet beef and macaroni

Kabobs: meat, fruit....

Round Steak

Pork chop dinners

Anything "en papillote"

Suffing was in: stuffed celery sticks

Ham! cheesy,tetrazini, cranberry ham loaf :wacko:



And interesting to add, that they note the garnishes and little touches which appeared during that decade:

Anything that grew in the garden- pick it!

Groovy garnishes: tomato roses, buter curls and radish roses

Mushrooms: garnish with or stuff'em

The Chafing dish: ESSENTIAL

And lastly, but not leastly: Men in the kitchen. Because, real ones ate quiche, right? :wink:

Continuing on....

Chef Paul Prudhomme

Stuffed potatoes, mashed taters WITH the peel on, oh my

Shapely dishes: aspics etc....

Swirled soups


Great walk down memory lane, and a VERY fun cookbook.

Edited by monavano (log)
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Flavored Seltzers! I remember working in the kitchen of the Hospitality House at Busch Gardens and lifting several bottles of Colaberry flavored Zeltzer Seltzer from the walk-in every night.

"d00d where r u???"

"im in ur kichen cookin ur f00dz!"

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Nerds, Fun Dip, Pop Rocks, Ring Pops and Charleston Chews... but who ate candy then?  :rolleyes:

As someone born in 65, I can say that except for the Charleston Chews ( not sure of their heyday) ,the other candies especially FunDip and Pop Rocks, were extremely popular when I was in school in the 70's. :raz:

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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Skittles, Caesar Salad, Blackened anything, pesto, sundried tomato, cheesecake, lox, prawns and scallops (together) bisque, sushi, nouveaux pizza, guacamole, anything done in phyllo pastry, salmon, goat cheese, baked brie, mousse.

Edited by annanstee (log)

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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Just to put another slant on this fun topic, what were some of your favorite restaurants from the 80's and why?

I spent the bulk of my time in the 80's in Medical School in NYC and Residency in Charlottesville, VA so my choices will mostly reflect those places. Some of mine in no particular order:

Ferdinando's in Brooklyn, was and still is an iconic Sicilian restaurant. The panelle special sandwiches remain a favorite, but my all-time favorite experience there was on a beautiful May day shortly before my Med School graduation when a few of my classmates, myself and our respective fiancees (we were all about to get married) bought sandwiches and seafood salads for take-out and had a picnic on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade overlooking lower Manhatten and the Brooklyn Bridge. I have never enjoyed a picnic more.

Monte's Brooklyn - the best linguini with white clam sauce ever!

Il Mulino Greenwich Village. This was our go-to restaurant for special occassions from the late 80's through the early 90's.

Caramba Columbus Avenue. This would not be my cup of tea today, but was a fun place for a splurge every now and again while in Med School. This was when the chimichanga was king.

La Maison Japonaise Flatiron? Mentioned above. this was the first self-consciously "fusion" restaurant I ever experienced.

Japonica Union Square - our goto place for sushi.

Empire Szechuan -Broadway and 96th St(?) Our goto place for Szechuan Chinese

The Silver Palace Canal St. Our goto place for dim sum.

The Columbia P&S Faculty Club 168th St. - Since I was only a student I could only visit this place when taken by a faculty member. It was ahead of its time as it served tasty Spanish style "tapas" in the 80's.

The Silver Thatch Inn Charlottesville, VA. Our special ocassion place in Virginia.

Guadalajara Charlottesville. I really learned to love Mexican street food at this restaurant.

Eastern Standard Charlottesville. This is where we first saw the possibilities of creative cooking.

Pollo al'ast Sitges. I don't recall the name of the hole-in-the-wall rotisserie chicken place we ate at during a trip to the beach from Barcelona, but I have never in my life enjoyed eating a chicken more than I did there.

Restaurante Reno Barcelona - my first carpaccio. I did get sick trying to smoke a Cuban cigar though. :raz:

Mrs. Ou's Medical School Cafetria kiosk Hanover, N.H. where I first learned to really appreciate Chinese cooking.

Joyce Chen's Cambridge, MA. where I expanded my horizons with Chinese cooking.

These are some that pop back into my memory as being particularly special for one reason or another.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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chocolate Decadence cake? I recall working for the Levy Organization in the

80's that was a big deal on lots of the menus and in the catering division

where I was working.

"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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Microwave cake and brownie mixes which didn't really "cook" and were just a half done mess in the middle....didn't last long I don't think.

Also seems to be the era when docs were trying to push margarine off on everybody.

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb 19): Cranky. And rude and tactless. - and a perfect description of me!

"Is there alcohol in this furniture polish? Mmmmm, tastes like I might die!" Roger the Alien, "American Dad"

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  • 1 month later...
I keep thinking about Bartles & Jaymes, calamari, and Oatmeal Swirlers.

can you still get B&J wine coolers?

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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I keep thinking about Bartles & Jaymes, calamari, and Oatmeal Swirlers.

can you still get B&J wine coolers?

Most definitely. I was on a vacation to Williamsburg, VA in August, 2006 and found about 5-6 varieties in the local K-mart during a search for sunscreen.

David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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