Party Planning Mid-Century Style

In anticipation of a mid-century cocktail party we are throwing later this summer I have been researching. This isn't your ordinary web based research. Trying to remain as authentic as possible, I have limited my investigation to materials published between 1950 and 1960.

So when David came home with "Hear How To Plan The Perfect Dinner Party" on vinyl the possibilities expanded. Given to him by our good friend Dick Vivian of Rooky Ricardo's Records, I felt I crossed the finish line without even breaking into a sweat. Released in 1960, this handy instruction manual from Gaynor and Dorothy Maddox offers tips on how to prepare a steak to a Polynesian dinner. Nothing remotely vegetarian, lactose or gluten free so to the modern audience this record is a tad bit dated. Our party will involve mostly liquid meals anyway.

My research takes me to cookbooks still widely used in homes today. Glancing through the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (1953) and Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook (1961), I found the later very amusing. Filled with sketches of individuals demonstrating how guests should appear, this is no ordinary cookbook. It almost feels like Emily Post joined the staff at Betty Crocker to design a classy entertainment manual for the "modern" home.

So next time you are at a party make sure you find time to pat a child's head while balancing a plate of food. It really is the party breaker.

This book also solved the mystery of "English" vs. "Russian" dining. Hint: who served your dinner last night? Think - hired help. No, not your mom.

Well according to this book only Russians have servants. Who knew? But then again, I am not Russian and the only "servant" I have come across is better known as a waiter in a restaurant.

Since cocktails are the theme of the party, I have also been reviewing a bunch of guides David once picked up at an estate sale. My task is to find a signature beverage that will be a crowd pleaser. Something with gin, perhaps? Luckily the party isn't for a few weeks so I will have plenty of time to sample a drink or two (or three) before I feel competent to host to millions as this book promises.

More to come.

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