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Cash strapped kiwis are cutting back. Penny pinchers all over the country are deciding to dine in rather than out, and coming up with creative ways to take the cost out of mixing fun and food. As oily raggers conveniently say, “the pleasure is in the conviviality of the occasion, not its cost”, so here are some ideas for oily rag get-togethers.
Pot luck dinners are great fun. This is when everyone brings along a plate as their contribution to the meal. You may, of course, end up with 12 desserts or salads and so on and that’s half the fun but “risk averse” oily raggers reduce this possibility by giving hints as to what each should bring. The usual outcome is that everyone produces one superb example of their own cooking and the evening is a gourmet’s delight at little expense and effort to any one individual.
Progressive dinners: entrée at one house, soup de jour at another, the main somewhere else, and dessert somewhere else again - that’s a progressive dinner. That means you get to nosy around lots of houses and no one person is stuck with all the preparation or all of the dishes.
Theme dinners can also be pot luck or progressive but the main idea is that the entire dinner takes on a theme, such as Mexican, Italian, or Oriental. All the courses follow the theme providing an interesting taste treat. To add to the evening, you might even choose to dress the part, listen to appropriately selected music, or watch a DVD that would open one’s ears and eyes to that country’s culture.
Dessert parties are where the evening begins after everyone has had their main course at home. Everyone brings a dessert - it’s a great way to start to a game of cards or a favourite board game (like the NZ Investment Game!).
A group barbecue is similar to the pot luck dinner only this one occurs around a barbecue with everyone providing their contribution to an out-door meal. One oily ragger says they organised a trans-Tasman test match BBQ. Half the guests were asked to come as All Black supporters, the others in Wallaby colours. Each was given a player’s name drawn from a hat. The hosts (dressed as referees) cooked ‘roo burgers for the Aussie supporters (using kangaroo mince which they got from a specialist butcher), the others “Kiwi” burgers (using ground beef - not minced kiwi!). As it was a BYO, Aussies supporters brought along Australian beverages and the Kiwi supporters brought New Zealand’s finest beverages. With song sheets in hand, the rivalry began with rousing renditions of the national anthems. (For the record, the All Blacks won - and only two guests were sin-binned for eye-gouging!)
A reader from Christchurch says they have a lot of fun with winter fondues. Fondue is a traditional Swish dish. Bread is dipped into a warm cheese sauce (the word fondue is French meaning to melt). The mix is kept warm, but not hot, by a small flame, usually a candle. It can be an entire meal or used as an appetizer.
Are you entertaining on a shoestring? If so share your tips with others by visiting www.oilyrag.co.nz.
* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.