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Oh, the Automat

So it seems there's a bit of a mystery about the new, semi-official Automat book (co-written by a Hardart). To backtrack a little, Evan and I both love the idea of the Automat. He grew up here in NYC, of course, where they had Automats up until about 1990. I only saw an automat once, on a trip to Philadelphia when I was 4 or 5. (Well, maybe more than once that trip, I really don't remember.) And we've been talking about the Automat because of the big exhibit that's going on. Which is why we got the aforementioned book about the Automat. Anyway—

We've also been trying to find a really good baked macaroni and cheese recipe. We tried Alton Brown's recipe but it was just a little too heavy and rich. So I thought, hey, how about the Automat's recipe from the new book? Evan ought to like that! And in fact, it's near-perfect. Quick, simple, and not too rich. But, when I went online to see if anyone had the recipe available so I could post it for you all, I discovered this Automat mystery…which is that the recipes in the book are not, in fact, authentic Automat recipes. What liars!! Ooh! The giveaway? The Automat's baked Mac 'n' Cheese famously had tomatoes in it.

Several sites have what are supposedly authentic versions, but no-one knows for sure (here's the best site, click on "recipies" which they really should fix: the Automat.com). Some discussion of the topic can be found at The Food Timeline. And several people claim that there was an official recipe booklet published by Horn & Hardart, possibly in the 1960s. But no-one seems to have actually gotten their hands on a copy. So the mystery seems unsolvable…unless this recipe book ever shows up, or even better, an actual industrial cookbook from the Horn & Hardart central cooking location. Until then, no-one will ever be sure which recipes are the "real" ones. As far as the book goes, while it certainly claims to have authentic Automat recipes, the museum's site notes that they are "Hardart family recipes" which isn't exactly the same thing.

But, in any case, the recipe from the book is excellent, authentic or not. I imagine they'll be pulling that recipe as soon as the show is over, so grab it now if you're interested. Normally I'm a big fan of Alton's Brown's recipes, but this time he got his clock cleaned by the Hardarts.

Comments

"Cats in Room - none, they're in the laundry"
I knew there was an easier way to wash cats without getting scratched! (just kidding)

::snicker::
I wish I could put them through a wash cycle! Don't know about the dryer though...
where they really are is, there's a comforter laying in a heap in the hallway right now after we moved things all over the place yesterday, and they're all over it. So of course we left it there because it's so cute. We'll have to pick it up eventually but...til then, they can stay in the laundry!

If you're needing to wash a cat without getting all clawed to ribbons, may we suggest welding gloves? Not only will they provide the necessary protection against feline claws, not only can they be had for cheap at the local hardware, but they also make a really cool fashion accessory for those special nights on the town! (We only suggest purchasing the welding goggles if your cats have discovered BB guns.)


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