Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Party Food of Long Ago

I was doing a roleplay to train some healthcare professionals in counselling skills. They see me over a period of several weeks, for an hour a week, as with real counselling.

As with real counsellors, they are aiming to get me to talk a lot about my problems. So although - as with all the roleplay that I do - I am working from a detailed brief about the character I'm playing - because so much talking in role is required, I end up inventing a lot of information which I then have to remember for the future - such things as "and the baby had ginger hair" because if I said the following week that the baby had brown hair they would notice!

This week I was talking - in role, as the character, whom I'll call Mary - about passing my eleven-plus exam. I said that my parents had organised a party for me, and my brother and sister, and a few of my friends - the crux of this was that it was after passing the eleven-plus that everything started to go wrong for Mary.

I found myself describing the party - - and instantly, in my mind, I was back there in a childhood party, 1967, Summer of Love - - - eleven-plus year for me too!

The party food seemed so real to me that I could nearly eat it!

On the table was an embroidered tablecloth, done by my grandmother, and floral crockery, a gift from Nancy, delightful cousin of my mother's who always gave us lavish gifts in spite of what I now realise must have been a very low income - she saved all year.

On the table were some bridge rolls sliced in two with chopped egg on them, and others with potted meat. There were what Olli used to call - many years later - "things on poles" - which in the Sixties were the height of sophistication. Cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks. Cocktail sausages on sticks. Sausage rolls. A bit of salad - just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, that was what salad was in the Sixties, with perhaps a few spring onions from the garden. There were crisps too - usually just plain, of course, but perhaps with the addition of some of the exciting new cheese and onion flavour.

And after that there'd be home-made buns in paper cases. (You may, if you come from the South of Britain, call such things "fairy cakes" but they will always be buns to me). Chocolate buns and what we called Spicy buns - - with fruit and a bit of spice - - my favourites. Butterfly buns with buttercream and jam. Sighhhhh.

And, of course, there would be jelly and a long, rectangular brick of Walls ice-cream, often accompanied by tinned mandarin oranges and Instant Whip or Dream Topping. It would be served in those waxed, fluted little paper dishes, usually with a brightly-coloured Sixties pattern on them.

That's probably the downfall of many a child of the Fifties and Sixties. In the fight between Real Cream and Dream Topping I'm afraid Dream Topping - - or anything full of flavourings and e-numbers - - wins hands down every time.

Food has changed. I'm writing this whilst eating a stir-fry. Cabbage, beansprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, onions, green peppers, red peppers, nuts, a bit of soy sauce. I like it, a lot.

But that's everyday food, for keeping me healthy. Party food of the Sixties is daydream food. Paradise food. Something in me still craves it.

It's strange how roleplay can take you - in your head - to different places. Bring out the bridge rolls, say I, and, whilst you're about it, put the Tremeloes or the Monkees on the Dansette record player. Here's one of my very favourite songs. When was it recorded? Oh yes, 1967.


Blogger Jennyta said...

I've got a CD of the Monkees - I still like their music.

7:14 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

That sounds SO Abigail's Party, even if it was a decade later!

I still remember food like that from when I was a kid (80s).

God knows what they eat nowadays but I imagine it comes out of a packet.

8:13 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

That's basically what's served on the children's birthday party circuit now.

9:55 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You must have come from a rather deprived background Daphne as there was no mention of vol au vents with that delightful mushroom regurgitation filling. So delightful!

1:06 am  
Blogger Debby said...

I miss Davy Jones...he was dreamy.

I'd come to your party...food sounds yummy!

1:29 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

When I was about fourteen I had at a neighbor's house half an orange shell scooped out and filled with green applesauce (food coloring, I suppose) and topped with a maraschino cherry.

That was as decadent as it got around my neighborhood.

Yours would have been to die for.

2:21 pm  

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