Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cheap Meals for Reedies

This is reunion week at my alma mater, Reed College. In a previous blog I posted a short piece on two Reed-related publications that now fall into the realm of local historical foodways documents: Jay F. Rosenberg’s The Impoverished Students’ Book of Cookery, Drinkery, & Housekeepery (1965) and The Essential Ingredient (1973), compiled by Reedies David and Margaret Mesirow and others.

Here’s another: Cheap Meals for Reedies, by Pete Lomhoff (1965). A 19-page pamphlet that sold for an exorbitant 24¢, Cheap Meals was a guide to affordable Portland restaurants, especially those that were open on Sunday evening, when Reed dorm residents had no meal service. (This practice ostensibly encouraged dorm students to mingle with townies and professors, who would genially invite them to Sunday dinner. Hah.)

Marsh coll., OHS, 1976
Cheap Meals reveals the truth that, fifty years ago, Portland was far from being the foodie haven it is considered to be today. Caffee Trieste was the sole noted outpost of coffee culture: “Loses. Espresso 20¢, cappuccino 25¢. … It just isn’t very good.” Hamburgers? There are capsule reviews of three places on Powell Boulevard: Waddle’s Charbroiler (“… you can pile on as much pickle and other junk as you want”) and a McDonald’s (”Soggy fries”; McD’s is still there), and the late, lamented Whizburger; the lamented loss, however, is of the sign, not the hamburgers.

For foods of foreign lands, there was little to consider but the Cantonese cuisine of The Republic (“no, it’s not called the ‘New Republic’”), Dave’s Delicatessen (“It isn’t like Mama’s on Lexington Ave., but it’s the best in town, and it’s closed on Sunday”), and the totally unexpected Kitchen Kettle, serving “good Armenian food in a modern American building constructed primarily of corrugated fiberglass, like over a swimming pool.” 

Peter G. Lomhoff '66 is now an attorney in Oakland, California, specializing in elder law.

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