Coo what a spread! Remember when there was a time when you could eat this amount of food on one day because you had OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR ABODE? As it has now been over 12 weeks since anyone except Mr Rathbone crossed my threshold, I find it hard to believe that this actually happened.

I am in two book clubs. One is the trad kind where we drink gallons of wine and occasionally talk about the work of fiction we have all read in common (otherwise known as the “Bring a Book Drinking Club”). The second one is a cookbook club and it is equally as fun. There are 6 of us in the club and we take it in turns to choose a cookbook. When it was my turn last summer I decided to propose one of my favourite movie star-related cookbooks, 282 Ways of Making a Salad.

At the “Muzzy Cookbook Club” meet-ups everyone makes a dish (or two) from the same book and we all get together and scoff it.

This is a humdinger of a book and it was quite a spread of weird and wonderful salads. Bear in mind that the book was published in 1950 and food rationing was still in force in the UK. Here’s what we had.

Yasmine made Joan Bennett’s Beetroot Salad
Cathy made Joe E. Brown’s Californian Cobb Salad
Shelley made Jimmy Durante’s Cauliflower, Tomato and Cheese salad with Boiled Dressing
Yasmine made Anna Neagle’s Waldorf Salad

I wrote down this quote from Cathy, but I’m not 100% sure which of the salads she was referring to, “It was tastier than I thought it would be. Not that it was tasty!” I think it was probably the Victor Mature Macaroni-Walnut Salad.

When Laura revealed the HUGE bowl of this she’d made at home she said, “Prepare to be underwhelmed.” She suggested adding salt & parsley and a sprinkle of paprika to jazz this one up and I think that would be a very good idea. The recipe makes a huge amount – low carb dieters beware! Laura went over and above the call of duty making this, as she’d already had a go at Barry Fitzgerald’s Macaroni Salad which featured gelatine (as many of the recipes in this book do). Alas, that one ended up in the bin.

Laura cracked me up when she was constructing Lauren Bacall’s strawberry and peach salad once we had eaten all the savoury salads.  She said, “It’s a travesty. A sin against fresh fruit.”

After the party was over, she sent a dismayed text to the whole group saying, “Oh bloody hell. I forgot to put the cherries on the fruit salad!!!!” Haha, that would have been the icing on the cake so to speak.

It is true, some of the salads were ODD to the modern palate, but I absolutely LOVED my offering, Alan Ladd’s Anchovy Salad and could eat it any day of the week. It was so pretty too!

It is almost a year since we had this fabulous movie-star salad lunch and I so miss these gatherings. We are having a meet up next week on Zoom. It won’t be the same of course, but it will still be a lot of fun.

To end with, here’s an extract from a book called Bebe & Ben by Jill Elgood.

It was Jill Elgood and Bebe Daniels who put this fabulous 282 Ways of Making a Salad book together. I absolutely love the following account of how this book came about. This joyous work of collaboration came out of the strange days after WWII. I am sure some amazing things will come out of the strange times we are living through now too. Let’s all have faith.

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