Saturday, September 22, 2018

I offer guidance on Village Social Event Food

After 18 long months, I have finally been permitted to contribute some "nibbles" for a village fundraising event.  "At the back, and if they're warm, put them on top of the radiator"*, instructs the Controller of Village Events (COVE) when we get to the church.  "Made those, did you? How GRAND."

Things involving plates of food are commonplace in our village and because we have Incomer's Fear, we go to almost all of them. The result of all this event-going is that I am now a 100% Top Expert on Village Social Event Food. The even better news is that I am prepared to share my considerable expertise with you, my adoring readers and/or fans, ensuring that anyone about to make their debut as a provider of "Village party nibbles" will seamlessly integrate alongside Jean and her cheese straws. 

I will, first of all, delineate my Village Context. From this, you will be able to extrapolate how relevant my Village Social Event Food will be in your own Village Context.

Village Context

Average age: 69
Average name: Tony, Jean, Bob
Average occupation: Historian, head of OFWAT, Architect to the Queen's Lavatories, thermo-nuclear physicist, biochemist, home visitor
Best description of village so far: "650 alcoholics clinging to a hill"
Chance of:
- seeing someone dressed as an elf being pulled on a trailer anytime in December: 100%
- donkey falling down storm drain having escaped from the Living Nativity: 100%
- spending over £10 on raffle tickets at village event: 100%
- there being a prize in the raffle that is not alcohol OR a 'basket of goodies' featuring old apples and jar of jam: 0%
- winning prize in raffle:  0% (if you are me)
Numbers of things to fundraise for: approx. 10, including church tower, church loo, church kitchen, vicar's gym membership, rehabilitation for donkey (see above)

Village Event Context
Setting: Church 1 (Anglican); Church 2 (United Reform); Village Hall; Open Gardens; Cricket pavilion; playing fields
Drink: Warm white white; red wine (non-specific); Cava (Prosecco = infra dig); Peter's Punch (inexplicable); Hamish's Pimms (90% Pimms, 5% lemonade, 5% gin)

A Beginner's Guide To Suitable Village "Nibbles"

Vol-au-vents: Full size but half-risen, containing Mystery Chicken in Undiluted Chicken Soup

Jenny's Famous Sausages: Cocktail sausages in mustard and honey so sticky that your fingers are glued together for the rest of the evening, thereby making it impossible to get your paws into ...

...Curry Puffs:  overcooked choux filled with sweet chicken curry

Paste on a Disc: Chicken liver pâté applied in a perfect circle on a perfect circle of bread, left out just long enough to crust up at the edges before being garnished with a small slice of green olive, enclosed in cling film and left to sweat for up to (and including) 3 hours (N.B. there is always half a plate of these left at the end and surreptitiously scraped into the vestry bin "so as not to hurt Jean's feelings")

"That looks Interesting, Peter!":  Concoction created by recognised local 'epicure and gourmand' (i.e., man over 70 with a Robert Carrier cookbook) involving aspic, a small fish-shaped mould and something orange

"A moment on the hips!": Joyless rye cracker with a squirt of Primula chive spread, topped with a single defrosted prawn and some curly parsley

"How GRAND": smoked salmon on blini that everyone stuffs down, pushing each other out of the way to get to the biggest one whilst sneering at vulgarity of having something delicious to eat

"Not for me, thanks": anything involving either feta cheese OR cumin

Brown Thing: "Malt loafy-thing that flops down when you hold it with chicken liver paste and a bit of tiny gherkin that fell off when you lifted it."**

Sausage roll. Variations required are as follows. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to tell which is which using your eyes alone, which invariably means the heart-stopping, roller-coaster ride that is Sausage Roll Russian Roulette:

  1. Home made: warm, slightly too big, always delicious, crumbs stuck to face that no-one tells you about. Later that evening, you realise that you talked to at least 12 people between sausage roll ingestion and seeing crumb-encrusted face in mirror at home
  2. Supermarket Special (Everyday Brand): were half-heated up but not quite enough, and are now cold; strange paste-y texture; often sprinkled with sesame seeds; perfect 1 inch width; favourite of portly gentlemen 
  3. Waitrose Poshest Chorizo and Ptarmigan Rolls:  See smoked salmon on blinis, above. Seen to be slightly vulgar and showy-offy, which doesn't stop the sneeriest clambering over each other to stuff them in their gaping maws.
I will be surprised if you tell me that this guide is not useful. I will be even more surprised if you don't have contributions of your own to make (I direct you to the comments section below), and I am interested in hearing them.  

Pip "Touch my cocktail sausage if you dare" Pip


* Do not do this. Last night, at the opening of the new church loo, a towel keeping some sausage rolls warm on top of a radiator caught fire
** Live review from my 'husband' who, as regular readers will be aware, is a French-Canadian veterinary histopathologist


elsan said...

So happy you wrote this post and brought back memories of village life. Australian university food at dreadful sundowners looks more fancy than many of these things, but in reality is mostly awful.

Nellig said...

God, how we've missed you.


@elsan I am happy you are happy! I am keen to know what food they give you at Australian university sundowners mind you so that I can surprise and delight 'the ladies' at the next Village Social Event with some 'antipodean treats from a friend'. @nellig you legend, thank you.

mountainear said...

This resonates. Here in the deepest darkest shires - Shropshire - we're still firmly set in the ways of the 70s. I suspect the cuisine of this century is expected around 2050.

The cheese and pineapple 'hedgehog' still graces the village hall trestle table. A more sophisticated version may include maraschino cherries. Trifle, a boozy, sweet confection topped with whipped cream and sprinkles (and possibly spikes of crystallised angelica and maraschino cherries) is invariably served in an unappetising dollop.

The reasonable white wine I buy for the village hall bar is generally slaked with lemonade (full fat variety) as it's deemed too sour otherwise. And then there are the cups of tea. There's always bloody cups of tea.

Lynne said...

Surprised the village food poisoning stats aren't through the roof, what with the not-quite-heated sausage rolls & three-hour-sweated liver pâté. I feel distinctly queasy...

Tired Dad said...

This was ok I suppose.


@mountainear OMG THE CHEESE AND PINEAPPLE HEDGEHOG. You should move here. No tea offered, ever, and to dilute the wine would be to dilute the very point of living. But I am rather jealous of the trifle...

@lynne 50 years of this and you can eat ANYTHING

@Tired Dad uh-huh

katie said...

Thank you for this extremely useful guide - I too now live in a village, so it will come in handy. However, my village is in Scotland so there is a lot more cake and sometimes even Empire biscuits.


@katie how nice it is to see you again. (FYI I am about to Google 'Empire Biscuits'.) I am coming to realise that high % of 'salty snacks' must be directly connected to the fact that all Social Events in this village (even Cricket Teas and evensong) come with booze - but I did see some cakes at a fete last year in the next village along. It's a shame. I like cake


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