Andrea Langworthy's column: Presents, petit fours and Prosecco
My friend and her 30-something daughter hosted a bridal shower last Sunday. When I spoke to my friend afterwards, she said it probably wasn’t appropriate for her to say so but the party had been a lot of fun.
This friend and I speak on the phone regularly so I was treated to inside information as plans were made, changed and improved.
It was to be an afternoon dessert affair at the daughter’s home. When we spoke a couple days before the event, my friend assured me the good silverware had been polished. Cakes had been ordered from a St. Paul restaurant known for its luscious, artistic masterpieces. Cookies, too, from a bakery in a downtown Minneapolis skyway.
Not just any cookies, mind you, but French macarons. You’ve never heard of a French macaron? Sacré bleu! Neither had I but I learned they are pastel-colored meringue cookies, each hue with a different flavored filling — raspberry, pistachio, salted caramel — think fancy Oreos with a tastier inside.
Iced tea and bottled Italian mineral water would be served as well as Prosecco, something else I knew nothing about. My friend explained it’s similar to champagne but better tasting.
My mother hosted many showers. One I remember well was in the late 1960s. The bride-to-be was engaged to marry my cousin before the two headed west where my cousin would begin his Air Force career as an officer.
My sister and I, probably 19 and 20 at the time, were invited. Mom took care of buying gifts from the three of us and I hope we repaid her by polishing the silverware and setting the table but I have a feeling we acted more like guests than co-hosts.
I remember the menu as if I am standing tableside at this very moment. At one end, there was a fancy punch bowl with an ice ring containing pieces of fruit. A relish tray held assorted olives, thinly-cut carrots and celery, radishes and pickles. Of course, there was a Jell-O mold; something with pineapple, as I recall. The main dish was a creamy shrimp soup ladled over puff pastry shells.
The dessert table held a coffee pot and flowered cups, a cut glass bowl of whole cashews and another piled high with tiny, puffy, pastel mints.
In the center of the table was a silver platter covered with a lace doily. Atop the frilly paper was an assortment of petit fours — tiny white cakes with white icing — each one topped with either a miniature pair of sugar wedding bells or entwined wedding bands.
Not many years later, I hosted a shower for a woman engaged to a former classmate of my husband. I duplicated my mother’s menu, substituted sodas for coffee and borrowed Mom’s silver serving pieces.
In the days leading up to the event, I scrubbed and polished everything in sight. Drove around like a crazy person picking up food. All the while, wondering how my mother had made something that was so much work look so effortless. Sure, they’re fun, but for days after, as I dragged my weary self around, I wondered how long it took my mother to recuperate from the many bridal and baby fêtes she hosted.
“Have you recovered from the big event?” I asked my friend the day after the shower for her niece. She chuckled. “Oh, no,” she said. “At this age, it will take some time.” At any age, I thought.