Last Saturday was my mother’s 80th birthday, and as a family (by which I mean my sister and I) we decided that instead of going out to dinner we would hold an open house at my sister’s with a finger food buffet. Given that there would be at least 20 people present, a sit-down dinner was out of the question, and anyway finger food allows people to mingle and be more discrete about the amount of food they actually enjoy consuming at these occasions. Also, you don’t have to worry about Cousin Agnes the Vegan, Or Uncle George the Lactose-intolerant when planning your menu.
After all, canapes (or finger food) are all about variety. And let me say here and now that the only difference between canapes and finger food is the willingness of the host to carry a tray of food around the house and not look offended when people say a polite “No Thank you” to the delicacy on offer. But my point about both is that variety is the key, even if you’re obeying the Hosting Etiquette Edict to serve only three forms of canape. You can achieve a very high level of variety with only three canapes (one meaty, one cheesy, one veggie- there ya go), so just imagine the rainbow of flavours you can achieve if you really let yourself go. After all, most canapes are actually very easy to prepare, can be served at room temperature, and therefore can be made in advance. But I digress.
For my mother’s party, we decided to serve her favourite canapes, as well as a few of our own. So we decided on a theme; “Canapes Through The Ages”. This allowed us to serve food that reflected the changing times, as well as our Anglo-American heritage. Canapes that have never been seen on these shores (or indeed on any shore after 1978) shared tray-space with British stalwarts, and the latest in contemporary party food. And while the resulting menu may not strike anyone as being terribly high-end, it certainly meant that any given guest would find at least three kinds of canape that they personally remembered with great fondness, or with which they were currently enamored.
Two final notes before I give you the menu; we (myself, my sister, and a dear friend) cooked it all ourselves instead of buying shop-bought where possible, and we were not above mingling through the party with trays.
A CAVALCADE OF CANAPES THROUGH THE AGES
- Deviled Eggs
- Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Cream Cheese and Chives or Tuna Mayonnaise
- Homemade Sausage Rolls
- California Dip With Vegetable Cruditees
- American Shrimp Cocktail
- Cheese, Pineapple, and Cocktail Onion Kebabs (stuck into a half-grapefruit, of course)
- Goat’s Cheese and Tomato Pisalladiere
- Dates Stuffed With Parmesan
- Carved White-Trash Ham
- Duck Liver Pate and a Selection of Cheeses with Crackers
- Homemade Yakitori
By the way, my mother did get to have a cake too. I may be canape-Obsessive, but I’m not downright mean.