By Ana Kinkaid, editor of the culinary magazine CONNECT
The 1960s were a time of social conflict in America when millions of concerned citizens went into the streets to protest the Vietnam War and social injustice. Yet those same protesters launched enduring culinary changes in American cuisine. Just consider…
Avocado Toast. If you’ve stopped recently at any trendy coffee shop, you’ve probably seen that their menu most likely offers mashed avocado on a warm slice of toasted whole-wheat bread. This au courant delicacy first became an L.A. hippie favorite at the Aware Inn where they served “moonshine-whiches” made with sprouts, havarti cheese and avocado on soya bread, instead of tasteless commercial loaf bread.
Vegetable-Forward Cooking. For several decades, food writers have reported that leading chefs are (1) serving vegetables center plate, and (2) using meat as a flavor accent instead of the main course. Here again the Flower Children started a trend that would only grow over the years. Seeking a simpler life in troubled times, they turned their backs on TV dinners and made simple, healthy meals that featured whole grains, a wide assortment of vegetables and fruits and little meat. Several decades would pass before nutritionists acknowledged the wisdom of their healthier choices.
Plant-Based Protein. The Hippies of the ’60s sought to express an increased appreciation of nature, often by becoming vegetarian. The publication of “Diet for a Small Planet” further supported the trend to switch from meat based protein to protein obtained from plants. Today it is a topic discussed at nearly every national culinary conference and seminar.
Energy Bars. Athletes owe a debt of thanks to a group of culinary entrepreneurs named the Nature Boys who hung out at Venice, California’s Muscle Beach during the ’60s, preaching the gospel of healthy eating. The end result of their influence was the Boots Bar, a mixture of sesame sunflower seeds, honey, and dried fruit — the forerunner of today’s energy bars.
Grain Bowls. Today grain bowls are a major culinary trend. Made with rice, farro, barley, quinoa or kamut, they are often topped with an array of vegetables, a small amount of protein and finally, a healthy dressing. Though they may seem the latest culinary creation, they are actually a direct descendant of the macrobiotic craze that first took root in the United States in the 1960s, featuring protein-rich tofu over brown rice and vegetables.
So here’s to the ’60s, an era that firmly established the right of Americans to protest as well as giving us some of our best and most progressive culinary trends. Like, cool man!