The 1970’s, described as a pivot of change in world history, saw post war economic booms, fights for equality and strong movements towards environmental activism. The food was garish and often consisted of layers and show stopping looks. Dinner parties were all the rage, and it was all about who could throw the best get together. Want to have your own 70’s dinner party? Here’s how…
What you’re wearing
If you’re not wearing a pair of bell-bottomed pants, you might find yourself feeling out of place. Combine them with a turtleneck or flower print shirt and you have a completed 70’s look. Alternatively, you might feel more comfortable in a slick Travolta-esque three piece. Picture Saturday night fever, the famous white three piece, an oversized black collar and black boots and you’ve got the look. If you want to accessorise a bit further, you could add some sideburns or a platform shoe.
What you’re listening to
Depending on the crowd, you may be relishing the new rise of punk rock, enjoying bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash or The Ramones. ABBA’s success in the Eurovision song contest in 1974 sparked their long-lasting popularity so maybe this will act as the background of your evening? Or perhaps you’re more of a country fan? Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson for you!
What you’re drinking
If you are going all out with cocktails, you might decide to present your guests with a Tom Collins or a White Russian. A Tom Collins is a simple classic filled with gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and chilled soda, perfect for a classier drink. A White Russian is a lot more exciting and interesting with its popular mixture of vodka, Kahlua and heavy cream. As for the wine, I think many would agree that Mateus Rose, imported from Portugal, was a popular choice. The bulbous, irregular, squat shaped bottle made a perfect centre piece and subsequent vase. A white zinfandel was an equally popular choice for the adults of the 70’s. Packing a similarly sweet and sickly punch to the Mateus Rose, there’s clearly a running theme here.
Everyone knows that the appetisers and pre-dinner snacks are the most important part of a dinner party as they set the tone of the party and let all of the guests know what they’re in for. The classic bought nibble like foods were undoubtedly twiglets, cheese footballs and salted peanuts. You might try some fancier canapes such as devilled eggs, mushroom vol-au-vents, devils on horseback or some mini baked potato skins. If the nibbles are the name of the game at your dinner party, you might step it up a level with a cheese fondue set. Cheese fondue was all the rage and if you owned a fondue set, you would have been popular. Dipping cubes of food into a pot of melted cheese… what could be better?
It wouldn’t be a 70’s party if you didn’t start with a prawn cocktail. Hopefully you can get your hands on a set of martini glasses to serve them in, if not, wine glasses could be a suitable replacement. Divide the lettuce amongst the glasses and sprinkle over a few pink juicy prawns and season with black pepper. Mix (or buy) a pink sauce and spoon sparingly over the prawns. Dust with a little paprika, sprinkle with a few chives, top with a few extra prawns and serve. Don’t even consider trying to present your guests with a different starter… this is the only way forward.
For the main
There are a few options for the main dish, depending on what you fancy. Casserole type dishes were quite popular at the time, and to spice it up a bit, coq-au-vin or boef bourguignon frequently featured as the centre piece for a 70’s dinner party. Equally, something a little fancier like a salmon en croute or a Duck a l’orange is a suitable choice. You may notice a common theme of foreign names running through all of these dishes and it’s clear that French cooking was the name of the game. The 70’s hosts wanted to impress their guests with their exotic cooking skills, and, if you are throwing your own party, you have to do the same. It was also quite trendy to create a true show stopping centre piece to put in the middle of your dinner table using jelly moulds and elaborate and cohesive lay outs. You can always google 70’s dinner parry showstoppers if you want some garish inspiration.
There are a few options here but the most notable is the classic, German born, Black Forest gateau. Three layers of rich spongey chocolate cake separated by layers of whipped cream and morello cherries and topped with a chocolate cream and fresh cherries… this is a real crowd pleaser. Equally, you could try a few different examples of traditional 70’s fare such as a Baked Alaska or layered trifle. The main thing is that it has to look impressive to gain you the crown of top party thrower!