Overworked, underworked, empty wallets or not, we still want to party, and to eat and drink well. Potlucks are the answer. This month’s party theme is a “Mad Men” inspired potluck, a la Betty Draper’s attempt at an around-the-world dinner party.
Frugality and gourmands go together like backyard mint sauce and free-range lamb —and both notions are on the front burner, with the “recession” and all. The popularity of “Julie and Julia” at the box office and the “simpler” times of “Mad Men” return us to the 60s and tie up the idea of cooking and entertaining at home with a butchers twine bow.
(Sidenote to fellow “Maddicts”: Was Draper really shocked last week to see Salvatore Romano nearly get his junk waxed by the bell boy? I think not.)
Overworked, underworked, empty wallets or not, we still want to party, and to eat and drink well. Potlucks are the answer. This month’s party theme is a “Mad Men” inspired potluck, a la Betty Draper’s attempt at an around-the-world dinner party in the Heineken episode (otherwise known as Episode 8, “A Night to Remember”).
Here’s what Betty served:
- Bacon wrapped scallops or Rumaki (60s favorite, popularized, along with tiki drinks, by Trader Vic’s)
- Leg of Lamb
- Spaetzle (she used egg noodles, but this is easy enough to make)
- Red Wine, such as pinot noir or inexpensive Bordeaux
Here’s How to Host It:
Shoot for a total of 6-8 dinner guests and ask them to bring a dish from the list above, or another international sixties favorite (updated please!) that transports easily. Ask the guests that are too busy to cook (or just plain hate to) to bring the beer and/or wine.
For a casual party, set the table buffet-style and eat in front of an episode of “Mad Men” or other retro-classic, such as “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”.
The Host should make the leg of lamb and provide martinis and Utz potato chips to start. For the leg of lamb, I suggest Julie Child’s grilled version in her cookbook “Julia Child & Company”, a dinner party tome of easy recipes and menus for company. If you don’t have this cookbook, a version of the recipe can be found here.
Break out the crystal, silver and china – dinner parties were fancy in the 60s and homemakers were judged on the table they set. Make sure to include tea or coffee cups so guests can walk around and sip the gazpacho easily if hosting a buffet-style party.
Table clothes, linen napkins and flower arrangements were not just for Thanksgiving, so bust out those wedding presents. But, there is no need to spend money on these things if you don’t already have them; use your best or borrow. Starched and pressed bed sheets can double as table clothes, and flowers and greenery can be found outdoors. Get creative. Basil is in flower, and hosta leaves are dramatic when placed in skinny vases.
And of course, recall Draper’s words on life and happiness. They apply to dinner parties too: “Whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”