You may color your beer and buy minty milkshakes in March…but in old cookbooks, green food is eternally à propos. Perhaps it’s because of the printing technology or aesthetics of the time, but lurid greens seep across already colorful photo spreads of bridge party buffets and speedy weeknight dinners.
It’s notable that the word “fresh” does not appear often in their pages, and certainly not in the titles. Even The Professional Chef, published by The Culinary Institute of America in 1969, treats green vegetables as an afterthought; the ones in the photos look like they originated from cans and frozen bricks. For the brightest greens, you’re better off looking at the ultra-emerald hues of the ink (all the better to depict food coloring in gelatin salads and buttercream).
Poking fun at these images is a cop-out, really. It’s just too easy. Nevertheless, it brings me nearly as much joy as twisting apart a Cool Mint Oreo. And I like to think that, in another dimension, the creators of these cookbooks look at our current global eating habits—the Vitamin Waters, the tubes of GoGurt—and break out into guffaws.
Sara Bir is Paste’s food editor. Her favorite green food is mint chocolate chip ice cream.