Vanilla lobster by Cristalart
In the days of yore, when women worried about glassware instead of glass ceilings, there was an entertainment called a ladies’ lunch. If you were trying to be cool, you even called it a ladies’ luncheon.
Women took turns as the hostess. Much was made of napkin origami and molded gelatines of uncertain origin. This was the era of sherry in crystal glasses, lobster salad and petits four.
Outstanding hostesses put tiny shell guest soaps and linen hand towels in the powder room, which was not a euphemism for a WC because ladies did actually powder their noses.
After lunch, out of courtesy, the women asked for the recipe of whatever was served. They then returned home, filed and forgot the recipe, just the way we do today. (If you find a recipe in your mother’s handwriting circa 1950 for curried chicken salad with almond topping, she probably got it at a ladies’ lunch.)
Bridge may have followed the meal. At each card table was a dish of bridge mix. (Bridge mix is trail mix for ladies.) Then there was a tour of the garden to inspect the progress of the peonies.
Ladies’ lunches were regarded as important events. You knew because the dining room table was called into major entertaining action, complete with heavy protective tabletop pads and an ironed tablecloth. Ironed tablecloths—you can’t get more serious than that.
But ladies’ lunches are now on the endangered list. The last sighting was at Leisure World in 1994. Ladies’ lunches are dying, not because there are no ladies, but because brown bag lunches and hectic work lives have taken over. However, a turkey sandwich with sprouts is a long way from lobster salad and garden tours. Plus women still need a chance to socialize at their leisure, to laugh and to only slightly trash those who are not present.
Today’s solutions fit the present era. Girl get-togethers can now occur day or evening and they are: meeting at a restaurant as did Carrie Bradshaw; meeting at a bar, as did Carrie Bradshaw; and/or doing a potluck, as Carrie Bradshaw didn’t because it involved dishes. (Did her apartment even have a hot plate?) So the basic rule about today’s get-togethers is that nobody gets stuck in the kitchen.
But, if nostalgia overcomes any reader of this blog in a weak moment and you do give a lunch with lobster salad, I’m probably free.