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menu suggestion for British 1930s themed dinner party

hyperbowler Jan 6, 2012 12:39 PM

I've been invited to a Murder Mystery Dinner that takes place in Yorkshire in the 1930s. Guests are going to be wearing formal wear for cocktails and dinner, so it's an upper crust kind of thing. We're set on cocktails, but not sure what to eat. Not surprisingly, I've been told the game's meal recommendations are boring by modern standards. Plus, there will be at least one vegetarian. Any ideas? It would be great to hear what was in vogue back then, especially stuff that would be amenable to updating.

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  1. h
    Harters RE: hyperbowler Jan 6, 2012 12:50 PM

    Fashionable upper crust 1930s British dinner party is going to be pretty much entirely French. Or French with American influences (although the latter may well be taken care of by the cocktails).

    The vegetarian is going to be pretty miserable, IMO.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters
      hyperbowler RE: Harters Jan 6, 2012 03:44 PM

      Cool, thanks--- I didn't know for sure that upper crust England favored haute French cuisine. Were there any particular popular French dishes at that time, or would anything out of the more historic Escoffier or The Epicurean by Charles Ranhofer do?

      1. re: hyperbowler
        Harters RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 04:20 AM

        Can't help on the details, I'm afraid.

        At this time of year, your dinner partry would probably have had game as the meal's centrepiece

    2. greygarious RE: hyperbowler Jan 6, 2012 12:51 PM

      http://foodtimeline.org/fooddecades.h... This link is American-based, but if you go to the site's home page, there is a list from prehistory to the present, that features some additional foods and dishes that were introduced/popular, by the year.

      Also, look at Secret Ingredients, the anthology of food writing from the New Yorker magazine. The dates of the articles appear in the index.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious
        greygarious RE: greygarious Jan 7, 2012 12:31 PM

        example via the site I linked:

      2. Paprikaboy RE: hyperbowler Jan 6, 2012 04:38 PM

        Gin, regret and a slightly unhealthy interest in far right politics.

        1. blue room RE: hyperbowler Jan 6, 2012 05:47 PM

          Wouldn't this be exactly when Agatha Christie was writing? her Hercule Poirot character was a Belgian, appreciative of good food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: blue room
            alkapal RE: blue room Jan 16, 2012 05:43 AM

            exactly. i am picturing david suchet right now. ;-).

          2. Peg RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 04:39 AM

            I have (and use) a 1930's British cookbook - 'Entertaining with Elizabeth Craig'.
            Two things spring to mind - first, canned food was acceptable for entertaining (sardines seem to be popular). Second, there are recipes that seem relatively modern - 'Californian aubergines' (a gratin of aubergine pulp with almonds); chili vinegar (involving 50 chillies); baked eggs with chicken livers; cheese timbales; geranium jelly. There are lots of veggie recipes.
            If you have a particular ingredient in mind I can look up any suitable recipes for you.

            One important point is that the meal should start with soup and end with a savoury.
            A typical menu has:- soup; fish; meat; salad; sweet; savoury. If caviare is served then it is an extra course before the soup.

            1. Bryan Pepperseed RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 05:00 AM

              If you can find it, this might help:


              3 Replies
              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed
                ZoeZ RE: Bryan Pepperseed Jan 7, 2012 12:42 PM

                These are turn of the century offerings rather than food that would have been served in the 30's in Yorkshire - game for sure, a roast beef - still the British at that time had suspicions about 'continental food' - Peg says it all: a dinner would have been from soup to nuts (after the savoury)

                1. re: ZoeZ
                  Harters RE: ZoeZ Jan 7, 2012 01:02 PM

                  We're talking "upper crust" here, so there would be no real "suspicions" about continental food. The French influence remained strong on the dinner party menus of the upper middle class right through the 30s.

                  Jazz had brought with it a growing stylish interest in all things American so expect to see classic American dishes appearing in British restaurants and, of course, dinner party offerings,

                  1. re: Harters
                    alkapal RE: Harters Jan 16, 2012 05:48 AM

                    harters, my knowledge of yorkshire is only via a couple of long trips through there, having a friend from bradford, and "all creatures great and small."

                    i'm curious as to who would the upper crust have been in yorkshire in the thirties? how large could that group have been? would they have necessarily had the same tastes and dinners as the more cosmopolitan group from london, or did it matter were you were at, but only that you were simply in the upper class?

              2. Gio RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 06:37 AM

                From what I've been able to garner from different web sources the following would be a typical British dinner menu of that Interbellum era:

                Mock Turtle Soup, Creamed Chicken, Spinach, New Potatoes, Pears a la Conde.

                Here's the pear recipe as written by James Beard...

                1. h
                  hazelhurst RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 07:27 AM

                  Look at the online menus for Rules and for Wilton's in London. Classic stuff

                  1. tim irvine RE: hyperbowler Jan 7, 2012 12:28 PM

                    Here is an old menu from a Bohemian Club dinner: plat chauds -- clear green turtle soup Amontillado, lobster a la Boheme; plat froids - canapés astrakhan, anchovies, Sardelles; Salades -- tomatoes en surprise, Macedoines, pomme de terre; entrees -chicken, guinea fowl, turkey, lamb cutlets a la Pondicherry; ballotines a la Diane and a la Reine, medallions a la Princesse and a la Ducale and dominos a la Savarin; removes -- roast beef a la Anglais, hams Belle Vue, beef tongues a la Aspic, veal and ham pie, game pie,
                    Boar's head,turkey a la Moderne, roast capon far is, Galatines of turkey, Galatines of chicken; pieces montes -- gateau a la Bohemian, croquembouches, charlottes Parisian, pieces sucrees trifles,tipsy cake, Bavarois, gelees variees, Charlotte Russes, creme aux liqueurs, supreme de fruits, petit fours, and Gateaux variees. I have no idea what a lot of it is, but it reads like an Escoffier cookbook. It sounds like a vegetarian's version of hell.

                    1. h
                      hyperbowler RE: hyperbowler Jan 15, 2012 10:41 AM

                      We've still not picked out specific dishes, but we're likely going to start with some pates & terrines (fresh veggie & meat ones from a market), a soup, game meat & sides, and a dessert. Thanks for the input!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hyperbowler
                        Harters RE: hyperbowler Jan 16, 2012 06:03 AM

                        Game will be a good idea. Assuming that the setting for the dinner is a supposed "grand country house", rather than one of Yorkshire's industrial cities, then all sorts of flying game will have been plentiful.

                        That said, Marguerite Patten in her "Century of British Cooking" makes the point that roast chicken would be regarded as a "special treat" during the 1930 so may well have made an appearance at a posh dinner party. It was certainly a dish that continued to only be eaten at our house on special occasions, like Easter, well into the 1960s.

                      2. j
                        Joebob RE: hyperbowler Jan 15, 2012 01:56 PM

                        Because tim irvine mentioned it above, let me emphasize that even a vegitarian would enjoy a trifle.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Joebob
                          Peg RE: Joebob Jan 15, 2012 10:44 PM

                          ..unless it had jelly in it.

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