I have written before about this cookbook and how it make fun of the pretentious while delivering some really good recipes. On looking through it today for some inspiration I came across this:
This picture accompanied the suggestion that we assemble a really nightmare selection of guests for a party:
- Career woman (remember the book was published in 1964)
- Repertory actor
- Pop star
- Tough young writer
- Back bencher (for those who don’t know this is a member of the parliament who doesn’t hold a Ministerial portfolio)
The actor, the writer and the star will no doubt have had to starve at times while making their fortune and the rep actor probably is still starving. So they will be reasonably easy to please. The author suggests that the career woman has”had t fight tooth and claw to establish herself in a bluff man’s world and she’s nobody’s fool” and the accountant probably has an ulcer or is diabetic because of the stresses and strains of his chosen profession. And the Back bencher is used to being fawned over and eating at Bellamy’s (or the equivalent of the restaurant in the seat of government) so he is likely to be more demanding.
So what would you serve this nightmare group? Our author suggests two menus:
- Hot grapefruit flavoured with brandied honey; followed by Lobster Thermidor and then Negre en Chemise which I decipher to be chocolate souffle.
- Oysters “in the English manner” which I decide is oysters sprinkled with cayenne pepper and then skewered with streaky bacon and grilled; followed by roast lamb, new potatoes and french beans and then brandied melon.
But for these disparate and perhaps difficult people I would serve:
- Chilled cucumber soup because they would be so busy talking and trying to impress each other that a hot starter would soon get cold.
- Beef Wellington with scalloped potatoes and a large green salad
- Pavlova with fresh fruit and cream*
Hopefully this will impress the career woman, the accountant and the Back bencher and totally ‘blow the socks off’ the other three.
*Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fresh fruit and fresh cream. It is the subject of hot arguments between New Zealanders and Australians as to which of them first introduced this desert. But we all agree that a well made Pav takes a lot of beating- excuse the pun!
Then hopefully, they would all make their way home having been thoroughly entertained by the other guests and well fed by me. And leaving me to clear the table and do the dishes and all those other follow up chores after a party.
“I went to a marvelous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence…”
From I went to a Marvellous Party,
Sir Noel Coward
- London Pride (growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com)
- Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” (aparisstateofmind.wordpress.com)
- Theater Review: Noël Coward, Gloriously Revived (nytimes.com)