Good Food Blog
Party foodPosted at 10:31AM, 06 January 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
Well, the Christmas/New Year party season is over for another year and I can't say I'm sorry. All those invitations from friends, neighbours and business colleagues to 'drinks and nibbles' and festive buffets filled me with dismay. Don't get me wrong - it's lovely to meet and catch up with friends and colleagues while enjoying food and a few drinks. It's the food that was so disappointing.
It seems that few people make the effort to make party food themselves these days; it's become the norm to open a box and heat up a tray of readymade food. Every 'do' I went to offered the same ubiquitous 'party foods' - mini hamburgers, kebabs with dips, tasteless pea and pancetta vol au vents, mini hot pies, garlic dough balls, mini Beef Wellingtons, mini muffins, gooey cheesecakes and insipid readymade trifles became depressingly familiar on the party circuit.
The strange thing (to me) was that the host or hostess often proudly proclaimed which supermarket the foods were from; the more upmarket the better. Conversely another popular boast was that the food was from a discount supermarket and was so good we were invited to guess its humble origins.
When I held my reciprocal drinks and nibbles event I made some sausage rolls in herb pastry, cheese straws and a large quiche in a rectangular baking tin, which I cut into small squares. I made a tray of Chocolate brownies and a Bakewell tart in the same way, (substituting mincemeat for the raspberry jam) and cutting them into bite-sized squares. I added a selection of top quality British cheeses and some tasty biscuits and that was it... It was different and (hopefully) appealed to jaded party appetites.
By chance I overheard a small group discussing the mincemeat squares and arguing about which supermarket they must have come from! One guest asked me suspiciously where I had bought the mini quiches as she hadn't come across any square ones. When I told her I'd made them myself her face was a picture. 'You made them!', she exclaimed incredulously, as if I'd produced a Heston Blumenthal-like masterpiece.
Why this obsession with supermarkets? What's wrong with making something yourself - something completely different to the boring readymade party foods on offer? Am I in the minority in thinking that cooking and serving delicious food is part of the pleasurable experience of entertaining friends?