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Moreen Simpson: 1970s dinner party memories are a recipe for a good laugh

When hosting, try not to leave dinner party guests with a raw deal (Illustration: Helen Hepburn)
When hosting, try not to leave dinner party guests with a raw deal (Illustration: Helen Hepburn)

You know when yer searching for something, then get diverted when ye find something ye’d forgotten ye’d lost?

So it was at the weekend, on the hunt for my weedkiller watering can. Impossible to lose something so big and bright red? Nae in my hoosie it’s nae.

From the depths of the stowed-oot garage to a cubby-hole under the sink in the utility room. Gotcha. Not the can, but the ancient, self-penned recipe book I sadly gave up looking for about five years ago.

It’s burstin’ with sentimental value; stappit fu’ wi’ memories of what I cooked and for whom from a whopping 48 years ago. That’s when I was a rampant, Female Eunuch-following feminist AND a new bride, desperate to be the perfect wife. Impossible? Nae in my hoosie it wasnae.

I bought the notebook for the myriad recipes I was gathering for His tea (main and pudding) every evening; cut oot of the EE Counter page and magazines, or copied from pals.

Not everyone can naturally be a Jamie Oliver in the kitchen (Photo: PA)

Having only mince and tatties in my previous repertoire, I fair struggled with some, although – bizarrely – I managed to perfect the highly complicated smoked haddock soufflé, because it was His favourite. Aww.

Two pals were in the same boat – newly married to non-cooking men – so we enrolled for evening classes at Rosemount School. Fit dedication. Every Wednesday evening, we’d trot home with our wee casseroles of deliciousness. Drudges!

1970s soirées

The notebook, now bachled and packed with cut-outs, makes a fascinating history of my younger life. When we’d folk to stay for the weekend, the perfect hostess here had all their meals planned and half prepared.

Every kitchen had a once-used fondue set, every dining table a Lazy Susan

It was the fashion in those heady 1970s days to take turns having couples for dinner, quines in their floaty, floral dresses (straight out of Abigail’s Party), long-haired loons in flares and kipper ties. Every kitchen had a once-used fondue set, every dining table a Lazy Susan.

With each occasion, the girls would make huge efforts to outdo the others’ menus. Oh, the disaster when I bought my first slow cooker and the lamb, which seemed to have been simmering for a fortnight, turned oot hard as Henderson’s.

Decades later, when many of us were on to different hubbies, I took it into my daft napper to have a girlies’ reunion meal. Of course, I had to impress. Affa fichery beef wellington for mains, and basic, but my favourite, prawn cocktail for starters. To tart it up, I’d bought extra big prawns.

As they got stuck into the shellfish, one of the quines who’d been to the cooking lessons with me bellowed: “Nobody eat a mouthful! Moreen, these prawns are raw.” Fit the?

I usually buy them cooked, but the size must have confused me. And they were slightly pink when I took them out of the bag…

She frogmarched me into the kitchen and supervised as I fried a spicy version of the seafood sods. Black affronted or fit? Obviously she learned mair at evening classes than me.


Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of The Press & Journal and started her journalism career in 1970

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