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menu suggestion for British 1930s themed dinner party

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. 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

      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

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

        1. 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

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

          2. 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. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                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

                  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

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

                  1. Here is an old menu from a Bohemian Club dinner: plat chauds -- clear green turtle soup Amontillado, lobster a la Boheme; plat froids - canap├ęs 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. 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

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Joebob

                          ..unless it had jelly in it.