Spiller’s, the flour manufacturers, produced its own little cookery book, the ‘Spillers Party Cook Book’, probably in the late 1950’s early 1960’s. Much of the advice seems quaint and charming, but there are plenty of recipes which sound delicious at any time, but especially for entertaining, cheese butterflies/straws/puffs, pork and orange,Breton pears. There are some recipes which I don’t think anyone would serve at a dinner party, however tasty, unless they had a very modern make-over, toad in the hole, liver and apple casserole, fidget pie (sausage, onion and apple filling) or plum and rice gateau.
As well as food, the hostess (always the hostess… the husband is just a helper who serves the drinks!!) is given advice on how to organize a buffet, seating plans for dinners, menus – (… for the more adventurous woman who works all day and dashes home at night leaving half an hour to plan a dinner, here is a formula which has been tried and tested many times. The menu, of necessity is simple, but well balanced: grapefruit or soup (powdered, tinned or homemade) steak and kidney pie or casserole or moussaka served with vegetables, cheese and biscuits or ice cream with chocolate sauce…) – wine, children’s games, quick tricks… in fact everything anyone could need to give a splendid retro party!
We have a couple of important celebrations coming up in the autumn, so if we decide to have a dinner party then i shall certainly consult this little booklet on how to properly lay my table:
An attractively laid table is the best complement that good food can have. It is not essential to have silver, lace cloths and the finest glass. A simple seersucker cloth, with gay pottery plates and red candles can prove a fine setting for a simple meal.
The essentials are – a spotless cloth, sparkling glass and silver ware. The rest is up to you.
When setting your table, make sure your guests will have adequate room. the cover – a name given to the individual setting at table – should be about 22 inches wide, more if you have the room.
If using mats, which may be of polished wood, glass or wicker-work, place them about 1 inch from the table edge, lay forks to the left and knives to the right. You can see from our plan how to set them out. A general guide is to place utensils for the first course on the outside and work inwards. Dessert spoons or forks may be laid across the top of the cover and the bread knife can, if you wish, be laid across the side plate. water and wine glasses are placed at the top and slightly to the right of the knives.
When placing salt, mustard and pepper pots, try to supply enough to avoid your guests having to hand them round.
This may seem very basic, but it was a time of great social change and many people were moving in different circles from what they were used to; it was s till a time of great snobbery and class distinction, so I guess for many ordinary people these ‘handy hints’ were really, really useful. These days we have a different sort of etiquette, we are much more casual and accepting of different ways of doing things.
The advice continues:
With bread, cut it as it is wanted to keep it as fresh as possible. water too can be supplied on demand.
people are often uncertain what to do about bottled sauces. A general rule is to keep them in their bottle or jars if they are branded names and to put them into a dish if they are home made. A point to remember, in the days of supermarts, is to see that the bottle is not stamped with the price.
Oh, the days of the supermart!