Not in the Fondue: Living in the ‘70s

Gimme head with hair

Long, beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming

Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Hair – 1968 original broadway cast

The book has lost its dust jacket, and a strip of dark blue masking tape holds its faded covers together. Inside the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook an inscription reads, ‘To Joanne with love from Grandma 1971’.  Grandma didn’t want it as she said she was too old to be following recipes.  She thought that Joanne, with her new flat, new job and new boyfriend, might like to use it.

Joanne studied it assiduously.  Leo often dropped around for a meal so she decided to impress him with oxtail casserole. The recipe asked for four oxtails.  She wondered if that meant the tails from four oxen?  Maybe it meant four pieces of oxtail?

Haricot beans were needed but hard to source.  She found them in the Health Food store and covered them with water the night before.  On Saturday morning she boiled them in salted water for an hour while preparing the onions, carrots and tomatoes.  She had never peeled tomatoes before but her flatmate told her to drop them in boiling water and the skins would come off easily.  A large can of cream of tomato soup was added to the mixture with a pint of red wine.  She had bought the second cheapest wine at the local Bottle Shop.

The casserole cooked for four hours, cooled in the fridge and then Joanne inexpertly skimmed the congealed white fat off the top.  She drained the haricot beans, added them to the mixture and reheated for an hour in the oven.

When Leo arrived he commented on the appetising aroma. Four of them sat at the red Laminex table donated by Annie. Joanne placed one oxtail piece on each plate with the rich red sauce. Mashed potatoes and green beans filled the empty spaces.

‘Um….where’s the meat?’ asked the flatmate’s boyfriend.

They all tried in vain to find something resembling meat but even with the aid of toothpicks little could be retrieved.  

Joanne had more success with Sweet and Sour Pork but the dish that became Leo’s favourite was Savoury Lamb – ‘a colourful combination of vegetables and simple but subtle seasonings make this the perfect family or party casserole’.  The secret was the combination of sherry, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard.

The International Cookery section introduced Joanne to chicken and almonds from China, smorgasbord from Scandinavia, cannelloni from Italy, beef vindaloo from India and sate kambing from Indonesia.

The coveted beaten copper fondue pot

It was the Fondue section of the book that intrigued her the most. She read that fondues could be based on cheese, chocolate or oil. It was the oil based fondue that attracted her, as morsels of beef could be speared, cooked and slipped onto the plate, smothered in sauce and eaten. She purchased a book called Fondue Cookery and created elaborate dips to go with the kidney, veal, chicken, pork and prawns. In the interests of health she moved from oil to stock. Her first fondue dish was red painted metal although she coveted the beaten copper one depicted in her cookbook.

On the night of her first fondue dinner half a dozen guests happily speared their morsels, but leaning across to grab a piece of garlic bread Joanne’s long hair caught fire in the fondue flame.  It only singed the ends but left an acrid scent of burnt keratin in the air.

15 thoughts on “Not in the Fondue: Living in the ‘70s

  1. I suspect the AWW cookbook (and Margaret Fulton’s) became the cooking bible for young women in the 1970s as we learned to extend our cooking skills beyond meat and three veg. My husband’s grandmother must have had high hopes of us…she sent us a Robert Carrier cookbook.
    Fondues were all the go weren’t they? My fave was the cheese ones and I suspect I had the same book as Joanne. Catching her hair would have been drama, followed by laughter, followed by “eerk, that stinks!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You were so adventurous trying all those recipes! They sound like quite a bit of work. I do love fondue and have two (electric) pots. I did burn some hair at a party one time – the smell of it did not endear me to the other guests!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Where would we be without the Women’s Weekly and Margaret Fulton cookbooks?!! I still use mine, although I also use Julie Goodwin’s cookbooks a lot too. I remember making cupcakes out of there and creamed rice. I was a bit young for fondue parties and only went to one. They’re probably not the right thing for the present times.
    I just had a tought that might trigger memories making your own French onion dip with sour cream and the packet soup? Much better than the pre-made version.
    You can keep the burned hair,though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That song Hair was such a big hit. I still know all the words and to end with long beautiful hair in the fondue flames – poetic!!!
    Thanks for reading my story and commenting Ive been so focused on my friend’s blog and stories that I appreciate all feedback. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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