I hope you'll indulge me in another post on entertaining. It's been on my mind a lot lately because 1) I'm speaking on the subject for the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle's Christmas House and 2) I've got to figure out what the heck I'm going to serve on Christmas Eve. And, as the holidays are a time for formal entertaining (at least I think it should be formal), why not look back to the 1960s when International Society entertained in a very formal way. Let's see what these soigné hostesses liked to serve thanks to an old issue of Town & Country.
Take, for example, Mrs. Samuel Pryor Reed (that's Annette de la Renta to you and me). She preferred soups, puréed vegetables, and all kinds of soufflées but nixed meat, though she admitted that poultry and veal were acceptable. (You don't see puréed vegetables on menus anymore, and I wonder why not? It's like fancy baby food for adults and it's usually delicious.) I agree about the soufflées too; I never met a soufflé that I didn't like.
If you want to get really fancy, take a cue from Madame Pierre Arpels, who was really gorgeous by the way. Her suggested menu included "Truite en gelée, sauce maison, served with Pouilly-Fuissé; Selle d'agneau, haricots verts, pommes noisettes, served with Bordeaux Leoville-Las-Cases; salade, fromage, and a soufflé Grand Marnier accompanied by Champagne Dom Perignon." You see, another soufflé.
Of interest to many of you will be Donna Marella Agnelli's choice in food. In the country, it was Piedmontese cuisine like white truffles, bagna cauda, and venison. In the city, it was French. French food seemed to be a favorite amongst these hostesses, and it's not hard to understand why.
Traveling over to London, there was Mrs. Diana Phipps. (Fabulous paisley dining room and dress, by the way.) What was served in her swinging dining room? Pancakes with smoked haddock, cottage cheese, mushrooms and mornay sauce, marinated lamb on skewers, saffron rice, and fried aubergines, then Crème brûlée with peeled grapes. (I'm an adventurous eater, but this just doesn't sound very appetizing to me.)
So what am I going to serve for Christmas Eve dinner? I haven't a clue, but after reading this I realized that I want Annette de la Renta's hair, Madame Arpel's good looks, Marella Agnelli's style, and Diana Phipps' dining room. And maybe the courage to serve a soufflé to a houseful of guests!