House sitting in London recently, Our Graham came across a surprising book. Mostly surprising because of the straight up middle class house we were looking after. This was not something we expected to find on their shelves:
Aimed at men, it “suggests ways to adapt your home, conversation and musical tastes to create an atmosphere for the exclusive entertainment of a guest” allowing you to “conjure an evening which bears the mark of your charisma”.
But what is romance in the modern age? According to the blurb on the back, “the principle of romance remains the same: the fulfilment of the woman’s fantasy. Is she hungry to
be pampered? Does she relish confrontation? Is her secret need a man who, in the privacy of his flat, wears a kimono and speaks only Dutch?”
While Our Graham doesn’t whole-heartedly agree with all of this, we’d like to share a few of the tips and recipes that this 1981 gem presents for your Sunday delectation. Happy dating!
Liver and Bacon
Inexpensive and delicious, especially on cold nights when tiny hands tend to freeze.
1 ½ lb lambs’ or calves’ liver
1 large onion, chopped
6 rashers streaky bacon
1 saucer cornflour
½ glass red wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp sage
1 tbsp butter
Fry the onion in butter until brown. Cut up the liver and roll each piece well in flour. Fry with the onion until it changes colour. Pour in ½ pt of water, add ketchup, sage and Worcestshire sauce and simmer for 30 minutes, seasoning to taste. Pour in the wine. Grill the bacon and lay it on top of the casserole. Reheat, covered, in a hot oven.
A wonderful adventure to eat that gets better and better until the treasure of the heart of the choke. Cut the stalks off the artichokes right up beyond the southernmost leaves. Soak them in salted water for 30 minutes. Boil the heart in different salted water for 20 minutes and serve with a jugful of melted butter, lots of salt and pepper, and a bowl in the middle for tooth scraped leaves. Remember to supply a fork for eating the tender heart.
Top tip: “Words are your allies tonight, but beware of talking too much and of pontificating. Discover her pet subject and beg to learn more about it; a lady who has opened her heart to you is more likely to open her arms.”
And for something more exotic:
The only disadvantage with souvlaki is that they have to be cooked on the spot. Your guest, left alone, may remember the last time she saw you, coming out of the chemist with a scarf and macintosh, snivelling with flu. One solution is to enlist the help of a friend and secrete him in the kitchen to cook them, silently and without personal appearance. Make him leave immediately his job is done, distracting her attention from the noise of the front door with a plangent anecdote.
4 lamb chops or pork chops
Juice of two lemons
¼ pt olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 tsp coarse black pepper
fresh white bread
Cut meat into ¾ in cubes. Soak in a marinade of lemon juice, oil, herbs and seasoning for 4-5 hours. Thread the meat onto souvlaki sticks (9in bamboo spears). Heat the grill to maximum and broil the sticks, turning occasionally, until the outside is slightly charred. Dip each stick back in the marinade and serve with fresh white bread, pulling the meat from the skewers with your teeth. Supply napkins.
And for something sweet…
If ever dessert brought forth life this one did.
1 ripe pear
1/2pt double cream
3 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp powdered cinnamon
3 drops rose essence
Liquidise the peeled and cored pear and the stoned plum with the sugar and cinnamon, moistening with a little of the cream if necessary. Whip the cream until it forms peaks and fold it into the fruit thoroughly. Now add two drops of rose essence and taste. The rose flavour should be subtle so that it is presence but hard to diagnose. You might need one more drop. Serve it in two delicate liqeur glasses and lay a sheet of edible silver foil (called Vark and available from most Indian stores) over the top. Lay one rose petal on each.
This bible of vintage in-house dating knowledge is hard to come by – and seriously, take it with a pinch of salt (and a shake or two of pepper) – but Our Graham did manage to track down a few used copies on Amazon if anyone would like to know more.
We also discovered that the author, James Chatto, has a blog and The Seducer’s Cookbook won him the Pink Pig Award in 1982 – shared with the esteemed novelist Barbara Cartland! If you know any more about what the Pink Pig Award actually is, Our Graham would love to know…
If you are reading this and are aged between 18 and 25, don’t forget to do our short survey. It takes less than five minutes!