Retro Bridge Luncheons

5 years ago

[Editor's Note: The bridge luncheons of the 1950s and 1960s offered a chance for friends to gather for a friendly game, an elegant luncheon, and plenty of fellowship. Those events fell out of fashion in the 1970s, though they did not go away entirely! In BlogHer's Life section today, Maggy Simony talks about her efforts to revive these luncheons. In this look back at the menus of the bridge luncheon days, TW ponders what she would serve at just such an event. --Genie]

As a child, I remember my mother holding and attending bridge luncheons. Not often and I had the idea that this was something of the refined past, rather than the present. That didn’t stop me from thinking that one day I’d hold bridge luncheons—serving tea, punch, finger sandwiches, aspics, and generally showing off my lady-like skills. I never learned to play bridge. I’ve never been to a bridge luncheon as an adult.

Every so often, I regret it. What a sociable thing to do! I picture a party that has nothing to do with sports or a holiday. Just a group of friends meeting, chatting, having delicate, yet rich and fabulous food. I see many a bridge luncheon described in my collection of cookbooks. How can you go wrong with menus like these?

Bridge Party Menu No.1 from What's Cookin'?
DeFuniak Springs Garden Club, 1956

So, Chicken Mousse may make you cringe—think of it as chicken salad. Many of you might not know the joys of good tomato aspic. Yes! There is such a thing. Cheese biscuits!

Bridge Party Menu No. 2 from What's Cookin'?
DeFuniak Springs Garden Club, 1956

Again with the aspic. Now this one has cheese straws and no one can resist cheese straws! Ok, not for the vegan or gluten free folks out there. What could be more precious than tiny clover leaf rolls and Coca-Cola served as a refreshing, refined option? I am picturing the small glass bottles, chilled or poured into some beautiful stemware.

Card Party for Eight Women,
Menus for Entertaining, 1960

Now, the prune bread sandwiches aren’t doing it for me. In short, it is a quick bread made from prunes and spread the next day with cream cheese. Substitute it with a banana bread or a pumpkin bread and I am so there. Oh, wait, if I was served the prune bread sandwiches, I’d likely gobble daintily eat them and love them.

Summertime Bridge Luncheon Menu,
Party Cookbook, Southern Living, 1972

As I scavenged my cookbook shelves for some bridge luncheon ideas, my mother asked what I was looking for and I replied “Bridge Party Menus.” She suggested off the top of her head a menu very similar to this one.

Hers included Bird of Paradise salad, which is quite similar to the Polynesian Chicken Salad, biscuits (knowing my mother they would be tea biscuits or cheese biscuits), an aspic or gelatin, cookies, Iced Tea and Coffee. After rattling that menu off, she said “Are you going to have a bridge luncheon? I didn’t know you played! That’ll be delightful.” I replied with “Yes Mother.” and she smiled, knowing that my voice really said no at the same time I thought “Yes!”

In my Bridge Luncheon Daydreams I see this:

From The Southern Heritage
Company's Coming Cookbook, 1983

With the delightful menu:

From The Southern Heritage
Company's Coming Cookbook, 1983


“Miss Tarrant asked her friends in for bridge yesterday at her home. Miss Tarrant, wearing her lovely red gown with white polka dots and full skirt, received her guests in the parlor. Bridge tables were arranged in the parlor, formal living room and dining room. Guests enjoyed the tarts, ices, cakes, as well as spirited game play. Miss Tarrant presented the high scorer with a cut glass dish to remember the occasion.

Miss Tarrant looks forward to hosting another luncheon next month. She plans another delightful menu featuring perhaps chicken ala king, her renowned cheese straws, and other dainties. We look forward to attending the vivacious Miss Tarrant’s next soiree.”

Of course. if you plan to be the hostess at a bridge luncheon, do invite me or just blog all about it. I really would love to attend, even if I don’t have the first idea of how to play bridge. Perhaps I can stand in as hostess for the travelogue in the drawing room?

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