29-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: Jell-O & Color-theme Menus

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One of the most despised elements of classic ladies bridge lunch by the culinary intelligentsia is its color-themed menus.   Using color in a menu is definitely something to consider for a Retro bridge lunch of any decade from 20s thru 60s.

The invention of Jell-O, back in 1913 I believe, is the event that probably did more to encourage tinted food than any other. Anybody can make Jell-O. Then it can be whipped, turning a jewel-toned Raspberry, for instance into a lovely pink froth. Or it can be cut into little cubes, piled in a pretty glass, and it shines like facets in a diamond. Or layered in various colors both plain and whipped. A neighbor of ours when I grew up used all of these techniques way back in 1930 when I was 10.  

In the “13 Classics for a Retro Bridge Lunch” I have lemon-lime Jell-O (yellow/green) molds as #8 and raspberry-strawbeery (pink/red) as #9. With them you have all you need to create special bridge lunch menus for Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas.

Even a sophisticated magazine like House Beautiful in 1956 ran an article “When the Ladies Come, Get Up on a Pink Cloud.”  Author Virginia Stanton, Party Editor for the magazine, doesn’t descend to Jell-O salad or dessert, but she definitely goes for a pink menu.

To begin with, she says,  drink Cresta Blanca pink champagne before during and after lunch–that’s how to get up and stay on a pink cloud.

The first course is pink jellied borscht (2 cans of Campbell’s jellied consomme heated up with 1 can of Glorietta beet aspic, re-chill, and serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped chives). Sound good, actually, if one can still find that Glorietta ingredient.

Dessert she suggests is a hugely complicated way of presenting strawberries–pink nevertheless. But it could just as well be whipped strawberry Jell-O blended with whipped cream and sliced strawberries–simple.

The emphasis on the wine in this 1956 article brought something to mind–and I’m not sure of this, would have to go back and do a lot of checking–but it seems to me the addition of wine and liquor to ladies lunch began appearing in women’s magazines only after WWII.

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