When Charles and Di were planning their wedding canapes, Jamie Oliver was just five years old and no one ever ‘did a Delia’. Well at least not in the kitchen.
Street parties held across Britain featured cheese and pineapple chunks impaled on cocktail sticks, palm tree paper napkins and children wearing Union Jack hats held together clumsily with Sellotape, as the yummy mummy had also yet to rear her perfect head.
TV chef and restaurateur Antony Worrall Thompson says the food on offer at street parties for this month’s Royal wedding will have moved on considerably since 1981.
‘People now want to see the ingredients. You’ll find interesting salads such as Nicoise, white bean and roasted red peppers, plus olives and dips,’ he says. ‘We’ve become more Mediterranean, in the sense that we like food that can be eaten at room temperature, as opposed to the old days of cold poached salmon.’
As far as he’s concerned though, the best way to entertain a crowd is to do a roast – and you couldn’t get more British than that.
‘A good butcher will supply you with a loin or leg of pork, or you could ask for a butterflied leg of lamb, split so it cooks more quickly and evenly.
‘It’s perfectly possible to cook a roast on a barbecue with the lid down – the secret is to keep it away from direct heat. If it’s a charcoal barbecue, put the coals around the outside so there are none directly under the meat. For gas barbecues, turn off the centre grill and put the meat in the middle.’
When cooking for large numbers of people, Worrall Thompson’s advice is to keep things simple: ‘Dips with fresh vegetables, chicken legs and wings and ribs score with adults and kids alike and you can’t go wrong with a few decent sandwiches.’
Try a refreshing salad for the day of royal romance
Smoked salmon and asparagus Nicoise salad
1kg new potatoes
250g asparagus, halved, woody ends removed
200g green beans, topped and tailed
100g pitted black and/or Kalamata olives
1/2 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
200g smoked salmon, sliced into ribbons
For the dressing:
2tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2tsp caster sugar
1. Place the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, then drain. Allow to cool, then cut in half.
Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus and beans for three minutes in a pan of boiling water. Drain and place in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, then drain.
2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with asparagus, beans, olives, onion and dressing.
3. Serve topped with the egg and salmon, and season with salt and black pepper.