A Touch of Nostalgic CookingSunday, December 12, 2010
Do you have soft spot for old cook books? The hand written marginalia telling you to cook it for a little less time or just that the result was only good as a paper weight? Sometime they read like a domestic history and other times a far fetched wish list.
Once upon a time I collected old cookbooks. I was fascinated with old preserving recipes that might have fallen out of favour and colour spreads of contrived feasts. If only everything could taste so good with a deluge of gelatine glaze. With the advent of kids, we whittled down the collection to only the essential and the entertaining. Somehow we thought “Christmas at Home” would fall into the first category. I always fancied the idea of creating a nostalgic menu, perhaps roasting a goose and how could I resist a goose that happy? Bear with me while I indulge in my nostalgic fantasy. While the book has been useful, entertaining even, I won’t be cooking a thing from it.
This recipe book comes complete with shopping lists, menu plans and price lists. I love the handy hints. Did you know that one bottle of gin will satisfy 20 guests? I’m not quite sure what guests they are planning to invite, but the sort that can ration gin out like that, would probably prefer that the party were dry anyway. Perhaps they were planning to keep themselves satiated with some of the other refreshments to hand. That’s ok, because at 11s. (shillings, maybe?) a bottle of sherry, they can knock themselves out. The prices are deliciously retro too.
One shouldn’t despair at the measly portions, because as the perfect retro host, I will be providing the cigarettes. We will temporarily ignore the fact that I do not smoke. Never have. In fact, the only smoking relative at our family Christmas party does so while retrieving toys from the street below the balcony. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works well for the kids. The hallowed “Christmas at Home” will have us forgetting our nanny state ways, ignoring healthy resolutions, and merrily smoking up a storm.
The Christmas Day menu reads like a gastronomic explosion. No high class culinary feats here, just food and lots of it. Roast goose with brussel sprouts. I’m not sure that goose should be so happy now and with the brussel sprouts cooked to a mush, I wonder about the guests too.
In case you thought fast food was a recent event the menu gets a little simpler on Boxing Day.
The recipe for mushroom soup is one that should be loved by all. It consists of one ingredient – Can of Mushroom Soup. I’m pleased to see that the authors did not feel the need to include instructions. It reads like they had either run out of disasters to cook or space to print instructions.
Cheap cocktail parties, canned mushroom soup and smoke for all have me giggling away and clinging very firmly to the present. Maybe I will keep an eye out for the companion recipe books – Summer Parties and Caravan Holidays or even Teenage Parties.