The book's deliciously mid-century cover promises that it's a "The Scene Makers [sic] Cookbook," with "Dozens of Nutty Turned On Easy-To-Prepare Recipes From The Grooviest Gourmets Happening.”
Show biz is artifice. Nothing in entertainment is real (that’s not a bad thing, that’s what makes it so fun). With that in mind, how likely do you think it is that a cookbook in which a celebrity invented each recipe would have anything to do with those celebrities? Their publicist looking the recipe over and giving permission for their name to be attached to it was probably the extent of their involvement in the cookbook, right? Well, Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen is a cookbook from 1967 by Roberta Ashley, and looking at these recipes, I am one hundred percent convinced that these recipes are the genuine products of the minds of the bright young stars whose names are attached to them.
Exhibit A is the recipe provided by the Rolling Stones, who were in their mid-20s at the time. The recipe involves three ingredients, instant mashed potatoes, baked beans, and hot dogs. Calling it a “recipe” is perhaps generous, as the term implies that the ingredients are combined in some way into something greater than the sum of its parts. However, the ingredients for the inventively named “Hot Dogs on the Rocks” are just kinda piled up on the plate. There is no other explanation for this recipe than that five twenty-something musicians concocted it.
The beans were drummer Charlie Watts’ idea, apparently.
Roberta Ashley, a teen columnist for This Week magazine, always asked interview subjects about their favorite food. She said that many of these dishes were “Worked out while they were quietly starving or working in a “pass-the-basket” coffee-house. That means that most of these dishes can be cooked on allowance type money…or very little bread as they say”. If the Singers and Swingers are fake, then its commitment to the concept is astounding; most of these dishes are what we’d now call depression meals or simply stomach-fillers for people who’d instead be writing music than thinking about what to cook for dinner.
Ground beef and canned food feature heavily, while any seasonings beyond salt and pepper are nonexistent. Six of these recipes involve hot dogs, and Four of them are basically sloppy joes, including one by Lesley Gore of “It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry if I Want to” fame, and also this.
Singers and Swingers is such an oddity that used copies go for hundreds of dollars on the Internet. But if you don’t want to shell out that much to try The Mamas and the Papas Chili recipe, there are pages all over the Internet. The pages that pop up most often on the Internet are for two recipes that actually sound really good. Simon and Garfunkel’s potato pancakes sound like excellent comfort food. At the same time, Barbara Streisand’s coffee ice cream involves the genius hack of melting marshmallows in hot milk to get a creamy gelatinous consistency.
Just in case the Streisand and Simon and Garfunkel recipes give the false impression that this book might not be a crime against humanity, I should also mention that Don Adams from Get Smart has a recipe that involves blue cheese, port wine, and peanut butter. It’s a sort of dip that’s served at room temperature. I know Don Adams may be a little off-topic for a classic rock website, but if I have to know about room-temperature blue cheese, port wine, and peanut butter blended together, then so do you.
The back of the book also promises recipes from The Animals, The Yardbirds, Herman’s Hermits, Sonny & Cher, and The Byrds. Alas, I cannot find those pages, though I have it on good authority that Sonny and Cher’s recipe is for pork chops.
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