Link Buffet: Made for TV

Midcentury Menu is a blog that recipe-tests vintage dishes like meat loaves and meringue pies and posts the (often hilarious) results. The blogmistress recently teamed up with the food stylist of The Astronaut Wives Club, a series which I have not seen but which appears to depict the very peak of mid-century middle-class housewifery in vivid technicolor. The food on this show is simply gorgeous:

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Which is weird, right? Because we’re looking at a tater tot hot dish at 4 o’clock, a classic Jell-O mold dotted with marshmallows at 5 o’clock, a tuna loaf with squares of American cheese just above the Jell-O, some kind of canned veggie medley shepherd’s pie at 1 o’clock, and a marshmallowy pink pineapple fluff at 11 o’clock. None of which I would want to put in my mouth, with the possible exception of the tater tots because you really can’t muck that up. But all of these platters look beautiful and tempting, so my hat is off to food stylist Emily Marshall. Get a closer look at those dishes here, or follow the tag for weekly updates.

Speaking of gorgeous food styling on shows I don’t watch: Janice Poon designs the dishes for Hannibal and posts some behind-the-scenes glimpses on her blog. Her work is phenomenal but I can’t lie, I get a little squeamish looking at it.

I’ve been sporadically watching episodes of the fourth season of Scandal, which takes place in and around DC’s most symbolic and secret government properties. The characters on that show live fast and work without lunch breaks, and they eat a lot of junk–popcorn, candy, fast food burgers. Consequently, I was amused to read about the high-security-clearance farmers’ market that sells coffee and cupcakes inside the National Security Agency as an alternative to the cafeteria.

Gearing up for The Martian, in which Matt Damon grows potatoes in order to survive on Mars, The Plate considers the nutritional usefulness of the potato in times of famine, and reflects on the depiction of food in other stories of the “Robinsonade” genre–that is, stories of being marooned and devising techniques for survival.

Mental Floss: What Exactly is American Cheese? Delicious is what. I don’t have it often, but when I visit family in Pittsburgh we get chipped ham and American cheese–actual cheese, I’m pretty sure, not “cheese food”–and they are so perfect and complete together that we’ll sometimes just roll up a little ham inside a square of cheese, no bread or mustard.

But speaking of mustard: apparently we can thank caterpillars and the plant vs. insect arms race for its evolution.

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