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 Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's

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DawnT

  • Total Posts: 1286
  • Joined: 11/29/2005
  • Location: South FL
Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 12:52 AM (permalink)
 
Those of us that ate something called Chow Mein during the 50's and 60's at cafeterias and lunch counters at five and dimes should remember a concoction that was like a thick gravy that had celery, bean sprouts, red peppers, onions, and some mystery meat be it chicken or something else. This slush was never served over rice, but served on packaged chinese type noodles and soy sauce. I never really tasted real chinese food until the 70's and it was a real shock tasting all kinds of flavors that were wok stir fried instead of this pot made gravy swill that most folks equated with chinese food. Still, the taste had fond memories and pretty much disappeared from lunch counters and cafeterias about the same time that Chung king canned products and Jeno's canned and frozen foods started dominating the ethnic and frozen food sections of supermarkets during the early 70's. I'm no stranger to authentic Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine and can do some mighty credible recipes on a high pressure burner and cast iron wok outside, but I'm still intrigued by the American foodservice interpretations of years ago. They were good in a weird way and even though their taste was funky after you ate the real thing, it was what you understood as Chinese during those years. Anyone have any 50 or 60's Americana interpretations of Institutional Chinese
 
#1
    Foodbme

    • Total Posts: 9583
    • Joined: 9/1/2006
    • Location: Gilbert, AZ
    Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 3:07 AM (permalink)
    The original Chinese American restaurant in Phoenix, Sing High,  is still in operation. It was started in 1928 and still has some of the original dishes on the menu including Chop Suey & Chow Mein and Egg Foo Young!
    http://singhighphx.com/
     
    #2
      Route 11

      • Total Posts: 752
      • Joined: 5/28/2003
      • Location: Howardsville, VA
      Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 1:01 PM (permalink)
       
      #3
        DawnT

        • Total Posts: 1286
        • Joined: 11/29/2005
        • Location: South FL
        Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 2:00 PM (permalink)
        Tnx. I read the comment section over and some of it sounds like what I remember, but the Hoo Mee noodles are described as flat and brown. The ones I remember were brown unlike the ones you get fresh in a Chinese restaurant and had a dried, extruded consistancy unlike the fresh, deep fried ones. Quite similar actually to the ones you can buy in most any grocery store in cans or bags that are shelf stable. I'm relieved to see that someone else remembers something similar
         
        #4
          Twinwillow

          • Total Posts: 4900
          • Joined: 4/15/2006
          • Location: "Big D"
          Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 3:01 PM (permalink)
          I love (pork) Egg Foo Yung and good old, chicken Chow Mein but, they're so many real authentic Chinese restaurants today, you can't find those old Chinese-American dishes anymore.
          The Egg Foo Yung served in NYC was especially good.
           
          #5
            ann peeples

            • Total Posts: 8317
            • Joined: 5/21/2006
            • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
            Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Tue, 09/20/11 3:38 PM (permalink)
            My Mom used to make what you described, Dawn. The "gravy" was cream of mushroom soup mixed with soy sauce. Besides the ingredients you mentioned, she used chicken( usually leftover from a roast) and added water chestnuts. She actually topped the casserole with the chinese noodles.I am still able to find those noodles at the store, as they are my favorite. I believe they are made by La Choy.
             
            #6
              ChrisOC

              • Total Posts: 902
              • Joined: 7/9/2008
              • Location: Ocean City, NJ
              Re:Cafeteria Style "Chow Mein" During The 50's and 60's Sun, 10/9/11 11:57 AM (permalink)
              Those noodles are great in a salad!
               
              #7
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