My apologies for disappearing again but my grandfather’s death followed by my older sister’s visit and Baby Alice’s dedication (like a baptism only without the water) kept me away (not to mention my schoolwork!). I’m finally starting to feel like I’m catching up with myself again.
In my last post, I mentioned that the girls in the pretend home economics class were trying to come up with a menu for a Sunday evening party where the guests will consist of teenage boys and girls (so that answers your question, Kathy, about whether the guys will be there or not). As part of the process, they developed some standards to go by to guide their decision making.
- Food should not be so complicated and fussy that daughter cannot prepare it herself. It is scarcely fair to ask Mother to work all day–especially Sunday–for her daughter’s friends.
- The menu should not be so heavy, with so much food that guests feel uncomfortably “stuffed.” The applies especially to a meal served after a traditional Sunday dinner.
- Food should not be too expensive.
- The menu should not call for equipment and utensils which are not found in the ordinary kitchen.
Kathy and Ann were mentioning the importance of being a calm hostess. I know that I’ve had my own share of meltdowns over the years and I have been wondering ever since I read these standards how many of those meltdowns could have been avoided.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but one thing that always strikes me is how uncomplicated “special occasion” menus were in the mid-century. Those menus are a far cry from my own special occasion menus where I’d scour Martha Stewart and other famous chefs’ cookbooks that I checked out from the library until I created menus that were fit for a television show. And then I’d exhaust myself trying to make the menu a reality. And, of course, there were things that always went awry. Our mothers and grandmothers were taught that menus should not be complicated or fussy.
Another thing that jumps out at me from this list is that we shouldn’t be stuffing our guests as if they were Thanksgiving turkeys. Of course, if we keep our menus simple and uncomplicated, it will counteract the urge to pile plates higher and higher.
That said, I don’t think menus should rely on chips & salsa and vegetable trays. I noticed at the pot-luck dinner after Baby Alice’s dedication, everyone was enjoying the chicken, homemade potato salad, and the homemade strawberry pie, and were basically ignoring the chips and vegetable trays. I’m not saying that chips and vegetable trays don’t have their place but let’s be more cognizant of when we serve them instead of making them a “default appetizer.”
Also note what people were eating at the dinner–simple foods. It was a hot day and guests were enjoying “picnic-type food” of fried or flame-broiled chicken, the potato salad, and the pie. There were other things that were available but those were the items that were being devoured and everyone proclaimed what a great dinner we were having.
Fancy foods may sell magazines and commercials on television, but uncomplicated and unfussy food will enable us to be calm hostesses who get to enjoy our own parties.