My good friend Patricia, with whom I used to run an outside catering business way back in the 1970s, is moving house and therefore having a clear out. Among the many goodies that she has unearthed was an envelope of pictures taken relatively early in our catering career – so I thought I would share the fun!!
Yes, this is me (please appreciate those flares…) and our second van, Roger!! Roger was truly a toy van – a very light metal box with a miniature ‘cab’ stuck on the front driven by a sewing machine engine. But it was just amazing what you could, with good packing, get into him! Buffet dinner for 150 including all the crocks and cutlery – no problem! You did need a well padded bum if you were going any distance and 60mph going downhill with the wind behind you was about his top speed, but he served us faithfully and well.
About five years into our catering career, getting fed up with doing weddings on nice Saturdays in June, we branched off into historic English food – for films, for celebration dinners in stately homes, for birthday parties, whatever. And as part of that we ran, for a couple of summers, ‘historic cookery days’ at Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire. This was at the suggestion of the owner, Elizabeth McLoed Matthews, who had a very fine herb garden that she was anxious to get better known.
Together we came up with three ‘days’ – a mediaveal day, a Tudor and Stuart day and a Victoria day. For the amazingly low (even in the late 1970s) price of £11.50 a day you could come to Chenies, get ‘mediaeval’ (or Tudor or Victorian) biscuits and coffee on arrival, an hour’s illustrated talk on the food of the time from me, a tour around the house, a ‘mediaeval’ lunch, a tour around the herb garden, a ‘mediaeval’ cookery dem. from me (again) and ‘mediaeval’ tea and cake!!! Not surprisingly, at that price, they were a huge success and for the two summers that we ran them, every day was packed.
Obviously at some point someone took a camera down with us and snapped away at Lucy (one of our cooks) and I doing the demo – though goodness only knows which ‘period’ it was! Or, quite a lot of the time, what on earth we were doing…
Well, this one is pretty clear –a bit of butchery…
No, pass…. Absolutely no idea!!
And I am suspecting that whatever that was, it had not quite gone to plan!!
But I know what this one was – teaching the audience to tie a butcher’s knot.
And this one…. Making a syllabub – complete with cow story!
(For those who do not know…. In the days before the invention of Kenwoods, syllabubs were made by sweetening and spicing your wine then taking it, in a jug, to your cow and milking your cow straight into the jug. If you did it with vim and vigour you created lots of milky froth and bubbles which rose to the top of your jug or glass and though which you would drink your milky syllabub.
Since neither Lucy’s nor my milking skills were that great – and Chenies was bit short on cows – for our demos we made do with a birch whisk but, as you can see, we still managed to make performance of it!)
OK – stay tuned for….. the Prince and the cakes!!