Given the recent Terry Pratchett memorial, I have been thinking about what I might do with my small cadre of STP fan friends, and the obvious solution is to have a Stress Free Dinner Party Commemorating Terry Pratchett. Happily for me, his birthday is April 28, so that’s a handy date to choose.
I do love the nomes and carpet people, but with 40 books for inspiration, I think we have to use a Discworld theme. And as the majority of these books take place in Ankh-Morpork, we have to eat there. Though you can eat anything there; dwarf, troll, you name it.
I didn’t get round to buying Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook (and she lives in Lancre) so I’m picking from dishes that stick in my mind. We won’t be having Ecksian vegemite (as invented by Rincewind in The Last Continent).
Ankh-Morporkians drink ale for preference, and Wizards pretty much drink anything. While no one aside from the Patrician drinks the (semi-solid) water, I will have some available.
Most of the novels take place in the realm of ordinary lives, aside from poor His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, who commutes. So no particular arrangements to be made, just a bare table laid with ordinary everyday serviceable crockery, cutlery, and glassware. We will leave an empty place for STP.
Obviously, we must dress in black shirts and wear black fedoras.
We’ll start with the usual 6:30 for 7:00 pm timeframe. But as it’s a weeknight, we’ll skip the entree and start with the main. If you wanted to keep the entree you could shorten the course service to 45 minutes instead of an hour. And we’ll take advantage of prepared produce where possible.
6:30 Apéritif: Sausage Inna Bun with Heisenberg Lager
I love CMOT Dibbler; he’s like the Ankh-Morporkian equivalent of a human cockroach selling take-out food of dubious provenance.
For my version, I’m going to do “pigs-in-blankets”. There are two options:
- chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon and baked in a 400F (200C) oven for 15 minutes
- cocktail frankfurters wrapped in puff pastry and baked at 425F ( 220C) for 15 minutes
served with lashings of tomato sauce.
Oddly, you can’t get Heisenberg’s here, so for old time’s sake, Victoria Bitter.
7.00 Main: Curry with Named Meat (Chicken) and more Lager or Three-Wizards’-Chardonnay
Tempting as is it to serve Chicken Vol-Au-Vent, in Discworld at least, it is the one dish universally disliked. However curries are popular, and Death himself drops in on the Curry Gardens for a quick take away.
And the quickest way to make a curry is using a pre-prepared sauce from a jar (though it doesn’t take long to fry the spices when you are organised). Fry about 1.5 lbs (750g kg) of chicken with chopped onions, garlic, and chilli with grated ginger until the chicken browns. Stir in the paste, then add about 250 g of chopped vegetables (at the very least swedes and sultanas) and add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of coconut milk. Cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes and serve with steamed rice.
Stick with the same beer, or move to wine if you prefer.
8.00 Dessert: Banana Split and Tortoise Banana Rum
Given desert is inspired by the Unseen University’s orangutan Librarian (formerly known as Dr Horace Worblehat, B.Thau, D.M), often seen with banana in hand, we’ll keep it as close to fresh produce as possible. Here are some banana topping options:
- blueberries and toasted pecans (or other nuts) with Greek yoghurt, drizzled with maple syrup (or honey)
- pineapple and toasted coconut with vanilla ice cream
- greek yoghurt, chopped nuts and peanut butter blended with honey
Or if you must, fry a banana in some butter and sugar, and when it’s nice and brown and add a little rum just before serving. You can set it on fire if you like, but the Librarian probably wouldn’t appreciate that!
9.00 Klatchian Coffee, Figgins, and Lancre Blue Cheese with Bentinck’s Very Old Peculiar Brandy
An Ankh-Morporkian figgin is a short-crust pastry containing raisins (Guards! Guards!), and a euphemism for male genitalia, (at least I deduce this by Mad Lord Snapcase being hung up by his). Or a bun with currents (Interesting Times) The figgin equivalent could be an Eccles or Chorley cake depending on your recipe:
- The Eccles Cake is a sweet mix of currants in puff pastry. Combine 1 oz (25 g) soft unsalted butter, 1 oz (25 g) light brown sugar, 1 oz (25 g) mixed peel, 3 oz (75 g) currants and 1 teaspoon mixed spice. Cut 10 cm rounds from prepared puff pastry and put a teaspoon of filling in the centre. Dampen the edges with some milk, fold in half and flatten the cake so that the seam is on the bottom. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375F (190C) for 20 – 25 minutes.
- The Chorley Cake is a less sweet mix of currants in shortcrust. Combine 7 oz (200 g) currants, 2 oz (50 g) light brown sugar and 2 oz (50 g) melted butter. Cut 14 cm rounds from prepared shortcrust pastry and put a spoon of filling in the centre. Dampen the edges with water, fold in half and flatten the cake so that the seam is on the bottom. Brush with egg white and bake at 375F (190C) for 20 – 25 minutes.
Conveniently, both these cakes are nice with a soft, creamy Lancashire cheese, but you could substitute any semi-firm cows milk cheese. Lancashire blue cheese is not as lively or spirited as Horace the Cheese but might still do well with these cakes.
Bentinck’s Very Old Peculiar Brandy is the very expensive tipple favoured by Archchancellor Ridcully, who secretes it in his hat. You could, of course, use any other distillation.