The first time my mum and I put our names down for food was for the November meeting. That’s the AGM, there is no speaker so, after the boring business is over (including the election of the committee), the chat is the main thing. Of course, we pulled the stops out. We treated it as a cocktail party, if a bit late in the day, and made canapés. We thought we should tempt the palate of those who’d eaten before they came out and, if anyone had yet to dine, they’d be easy prey for a first course.
I can’t remember what we made, that first time, but I do know that we laid all the pieces out on serving dishes at home, rather than putting them in boxes and risking being helped by having them put out with no care for aesthetic harmony. This is neither boast nor apology. We both felt that the beauty of the plateful was part of its appeal. Every little piece had its appropriate garnish, colour schemes were considered and we reserved much of the day for the cooking and preparation. Unsurprisingly, we were asked to do the November food every year from then on.
Everyone’s food was delicious and ours was no better, but I think that we put more emphasis on lightness (no sandwiches, for instance) and savoury food, though there were always some dessert-y things at the end. For instance, tiny brandysnap cups filled with lemon soufflé and little chocolate cups filled with chocolate mousse.
My mother worked hardest. She would make little pastry boats to be filled with fish mousse, whereas I’d slice a cucumber, dry the pieces and top them with the mousse, which would take at least two hours less. The realisation has, very gradually, came upon me that I’m not as lazy as I’ve always said and believed I am. I’m simply – please excuse the capitals, it was a mind-blowing revelation – LAZY COMPARED TO MY MOTHER. THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME LAZY, AS I’VE BELIEVED (she never suggested such a thing) FOR MOST OF MY LIFE. I am, however, more efficient than she was. And I take more care of myself. I may well come back to this at some time, but it’s not a subject for now.
Our cakes weren’t as fabulous as some of the others’ – this was the WI after all and everyone was a great cook – and many people worked full time and still produced something wonderful. I’m not boasting, we weren’t the best at all. But our presentation was fabulous, so that is a small puff to J and Z.