Category Archives: Food

What Rusty and Kit Ate in Denmark?

As Kit and Rusty traveled through Scandinavia in October 1954, only the food in Denmark appeared worth writing home about. They were so stunned by the dramatic scenery, their letters focused on the sights. About Denmark, however, Rusty wrote:

Then we had smørrebrød (ø in Danish is pronounced something like “or”) which Denmark is famous for. It means sandwich, and some cafes in Copenhagen had 179 (and more) varieties!! They are all open-faced – and the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted! Americans, I’ve decided, are very foolish to put a slice of bread on top – it kills the flavor of the filling!

They had sandwiches of roast beef and onions on dark bread with fried egg on top; ham on rye with vegetable mayonnaise salad and cucumber slicse; dark bread with curry mayonnaise and oodles of mushrooms.

Here’s a postcard Rusty wrote to her mother in South Dakota:

Denmark Hotel Leidersdorff (1)

Leidersdorff postcard


From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.



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What Did It Cost to Travel in Belgium & Holland in 1954?

Traveling in Europe in 1954 may sound cheap to us now, but to Rusty and Kit who were on a budget of about $5 a day, spending $4 ($2 each) to stay one night at the Hotel Astoria in Brussels was expensive. According to the girls, their room was magnificent, and they didn’t complain about the price in their letters home. When they discovered that their Amsterdam hotel charged $2.50 per person, however, they switched hotels, finding another one with rates of $1.50 each, including breakfast.

Since breakfast was included in the price of their hotel rooms, the girls spent their food money on lunch (75 cents in Delfzjil) and dinner ($1.10 for a meal at Amsterdam’s Moderne Cafe). Snacks included carrots, grapes, tomatoes, and bread all for 35 cents.

Other expenses included museum entrance fees, new walking shoes for Kit ($3.98) and a ticket for a piano concert in Amsterdam for $1.10 each.

Read more about the travels of Rusty and Kit in The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.

Bruges 1954

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Filed under Armchair Travel, Belgium, Food, The Netherlands, Tucker - Tyler Adventure

How to Prepare a Belgian Dessert

Although Rusty and Kit didn’t write about the treats they ate while in Brussels or Bruge, one of my Belgian friends gave me this recipe for a typical Belgian dessert, Gateau Aux Petits Beurres.

Here is her recipe and photos of my efforts. The cake, while impressive to look at, is easy to make and delicious to eat. What are petits beurres? They are those rectangular crisp butter cookies that soften when dunked in a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. Though made by a French company, LU, they are found in most U.S. grocery stores.


Gâteau Aux Petits Beurres


    • 14 ounces petits beurres 
    • 2 cups warm milk
    • 2 sticks butter
    • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, separated
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • additional chocolate for topping


1. Melt together the butter, 5 ounces of chocolate, and sugar in a saucepan until smooth. Let the mixture cool off a bit so that it thickens some.

2. Dip the petit beurres in the warm milk, two at a time. They should be soft, but not falling apart.


3. In a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, layer the softened petits beurres, then pour a layer of the chocolate mixture. Repeat the layers of petits beurres dipped in milk and the chocolate mixture until the pan is filled.


4. Cool in your fridge for several hours.

5. When cooled, use a knife to loosen the edges and remove the cake from the pan and place the cake upside down on a platter.

6. Melt the additional chocolate (another 5 ounces or so). Pour over the top and sides of the cake and cool again in the fridge. Enjoy!



Read more about the travels of Rusty and Kit in  The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.

Recipe courtesy Brigitte Seeley.


Filed under Belgium, Food, Recipes, Tucker - Tyler Adventure

Eating in Paris

When Rusty and Kit arrived in Paris, buying and eating food in Paris, whether from a patisserie or in a brasserie or a café was a novelty. They documented the food they ate as well as their dining experiences in their letters to family back home in the U.S. Rusty wrote:

Everyday you meet people in the parks or walking down the streets who have a small loaf of bread; they just tear off pieces and eat it as they go. Wonderful!

Here’s a description, in their words, of what they ate in France:

For breakfast: eggs, bacon, French bread, coffee.
For lunch: always French bread, fruit, brie, tomato, a French pastry or patisserie.
For dinner: ham sandwiches, onion soup, French steak with green beans, salad, French fried potatoes and a peach. And for dessert: café au lait.

Kit and Rusty in Paris

From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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How to Make French Onion Soup

The French onion soup Rusty tasted in Paris during The Tucker – Tyler Adventure was so good that she talked about it years later and told friends going to Paris that they must stop at La Pergola, a restaurant in Paris, for a bowl of their French onion soup. Rusty wrote:

The dinner was quite good, particularly the onion soup; magnificent flavor – many onions, thick crusty top and wonderful cheese – the best I have ever tasted anywhere!!!

While I don’t have the recipe for the onion soup Rusty ate during her first visit to Paris, I found this recipe online for a “classic French onion soup” adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Classic French Onion Soup recipe. I made it the other night and imagined myself sitting at a table at a cafe in Paris, listening to “La Vie en Rose.” Oh, and this recipe was by far, the best French onion soup I have tasted anywhere!

French Onion Soup

To learn about the travels of Rusty and Kit, read The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.


Filed under Armchair Travel, Europe, Food, France, Recipes, Tucker - Tyler Adventure

What Did People Eat On Board the Queen Mary?

When Kit and Rusty sailed on the RMS Queen Mary back in September 1954, they discovered that meals on board the British ship were of British cuisine.

They wrote home about their breakfasts of orange juice, bacon and eggs, currant scones, and coffee; the tea and sandwiches they ate for lunch; and bread and butter, cookies, biscuit, and hot cup of tea they were served for afternoon tea. Rusty wrote:

Our lunch call was past due so we then hurried down and had luscious meal: (sauerkraut juice, carrots, broccoli, liver, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, ice cream and coffee) –

Both Rusty and Kit described their first dinner on board the ship. While Rusty ate roast beef, squash, green beans, fruit cup, fresh fruit (orange), and tea that first night, Kit wrote:

Had roast beef, string beans, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding for dinner to-night, but it wasn’t half as good as Hampshire House last night with exactly the same thing. The British certainly do cook their meat to death!

Check out this menu from their last dinner on board the ship on September 12, 1954.

signed farewell dinner menu

From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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What Did They Cook in the 1950s?

What were you, your mother, or grandmother cooking in 1954, the year that Rusty and Kit went to Europe? If you didn’t live through it, and the recipes have long been thrown away, consider these facts: in 1953, Cheese Whiz and Saran Wrap were invented. In 1954, the first TV dinner, Trix cereal, and peanut M&Ms were introduced, Burger King was founded, and food rationing finally ended in Great Britain.

If you’ve been searching for an old family recipe, you might want to check out these blogs and cookbooks.

Mid Century Menu is a blog devoted to remembering and trying out recipes from the mid 1900s. There are lots of recipes for jello salads, hot dogs, casseroles, cocktails, and even Spam!

Another blog, Hey, My Mom Used to Make That! is devoted to vintage recipes. The blog is organized by decade, with old photos to complement such recipes for Tuna N’ Waffles (made with that versatile ingredient, cream of mushroom soup), and Crisco’s Chocolate Fluff Cake.

Taste of Home published the winning recipes from 1954 Pillsbury’s Grand National Recipe Contest. The winning recipe was My Inspiration Cake, a pecan and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The second place winner was Blueberry Boy-Bait! Other recipes posted include Cinnamon Nut Crisps, Ye Olde Saffron Braids, and Maple Syrup Layer Cake.

For more savory recipes check out the book Feeding the Nation: Nostalgic Recipes and Facts from 1940-1954. Recipes include Steak and Potato Pie and Stuffed Marrow and Eggless Sponge Pudding. Hmmmm.

Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives licensed by CC under 2.0.

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Single in New York in 1954

When you want to be an actress, living in New York City is a dream, especially for a girl from the midwest. For Marialyce Tyler, moving from South Dakota to the Big City in 1954 was exciting. With a couple of college friends, she lived in two different apartments on the Upper West Side of New York, right near Central Park, on West 74th Street and West 68th Street.

West 74th Street

Rusty described the apartment on West 74th Street as the old Borden Mansion. According to Rusty, they lived in what was the old library.

We were on the first floor, a 14-foot ceilinged room with a huge marble fireplace, tall windows draped in dark red velvet and then beyond a huge room that had three twin-sized beds, a very large and long dark mahogany dining table, chairs, etc., a small one-person-at-a-time kitchen, and beyond that a bathroom that had been made out of a closet.

From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler and edited by Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.

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Filed under Armchair Travel, Food, New York City, Tucker - Tyler Adventure, U.S.