By Rose-Mary Rumbley
You know you're old when you attend a progressive dinner, and you're exhausted when you arrive at the last stop! This topic came up when I was talking with some friends here at my new home, Assisted Living Tradition. I was amused at the thought, to say the least. One charming lady observed, "We were so thrilled when we finished our dessert and could go home! We were worn out!" Could it be? Too old for a progressive dinner!!!!
When did these Progressive Dinners, sometimes called Safari Suppers, get their start? Well, it's another activity society can blame on those who were young in the 1960s--Hippies! These kids really did bring about change in actions and dress! And now, we learn they changed some eating habits. They posed the question, "Why would one just want to eat a meal in one place, when one could travel from table to table, house to house, and have some fun!" And I must admit it's a fine experience.
But, the hippies didn't create the idea itself. The enjoyment of a progressive dinner goes back to the beginning of the 20th century in jolly old England. Several homes were selected and the party went from house to house with a different course at each house. The biggest problem came when the meal had to be kept warm in an empty house--empty until the "eaters" arrived!
The dinner sometimes was planned around a theme. It could be a country--Italy, with tasty Italian food. Or one might consider food that is served in Germany, France, Greece, Norway, Sweden. It could easily be planned around a holiday! Whatever the host or hostess desired.
The first stop was always announced, but then after that, the diners didn't know just where they were going, because after each meal, the next destination was revealed.
As I said, these Progressive Dinners became very popular in the 1960s, at the same time, frozen dinners were having their big run! Thus, READY MADE FROZEN PROGRESSIVE DINNERS were featured in grocery store freezers. And too, restaurants wanted in on the scene. They would announce PROGRESSIVE DINNERS! The "eaters" started at one restaurant and from there were directed to the next one. Surprise was the key to the excitement of the evening--where and what are we eating?
Are there a lot of Progressive Dinners held today? Not too many, because we have all gotten lazy--no one wants to cook! And I'm not just speaking for myself. Even the finest cooks are cutting back on invitations! And the young folks are into other ways of eating! It's more fun to hang out on a restaurant patio!
Oh, for all of you drama lovers, I discovered that Tim Firth, famed English playwright, wrote a comedy, SAFARI DINNER, featuring three English couples engaging in a progressive dinner. I was unable to obtain a script, but don't you know it's funny!
In the meantime, at home keep the freezer full of dinners and the microwave plugged in! Bon Appetit!