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In the 1950s, "returning GIs wanted the picket-fenced home, a new car in the garage, and a patio with a barbecue. Yes, man was master of the flame, singeing his eyebrows while smoking out the neighbors." With that visual, author Linda Everett kicks off The Retro Barbecue, a colorful, kitschy, if slightly bizarre collection of barbecue recipes presented through the prism of 1950s America. During that decade "the popularity of the backyard barbecue quickly spread," says Everett, and her book is decorated with a deluge of grilling-related pictures and ads of the era, including ones for Ronson Fire-Starter Fuel ("Starts Barbecues Instantly! No Work! No Wait!") and the Master Barbecue Grill ("Eating Thrills for Family and Friends"). Baked in with all the nostalgia, though, is a bountiful array of intriguing, tasty American recipes, spanning meats, salads, sauces, drinks, desserts, and more. Highlights include Boston Harbor Baked Beans, Prairie Dogs (sliced hot dogs filled with American cheese), and Rosarita Beach Burgers, which are topped off with dollops of refried beans and avocado ("messy, but oh so yummy!"). Ultimately, this is a fun, goofy cookbook with plenty of retro charm. --Andy Boynton
Linda Everett is the author of several books in addition to being an award-winning watercolor artist. She has done freelance writing and research for several prominent media companies, including A&E's Biography and MSNBC. From a family of cooks, she currently makes her home in Ocean Park, WA amidst a large collection of cookbooks and recipes.