The 1970s wasn’t an “easy” era. A decade’s worth of partying whilst high on anything available at the time meant that the 60s hangover was a real phenomena. England had been declared the sick man of Europe, America was entrenched in a forever going war in Vietnam, and Nixon did something that had to do with water…
Of course the 70s will forever remembered as the era that released some of the greatest ever music in the history of mankind; CCR over Lady Gaga any day.
Fleetwood Mac produced Rumours, Pink Floyd graced the world with Dark Side of the Moon and Peter Frampton wanted to “show us the way” with the best selling live album, Frampton. Of course there is a pattern emerging, English musicians (ok, Fleetwood Mac 3/4 English) breaking America and in return, America propelling them into the stratosphere.
If every home on either side of the Atlantic owned an LP player, the collection would be found to contain at least one if not all three of these eponymous titles. And that’s not to mention the likes of Elton John, T-Rex, David Bowie, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Yes and so on and so on.
Of course, it wasn’t just music being shared either side of the Atlantic. Fast food had begun its journey into the UK. Wimpy started the revolution with its first burger bar in Coventry Street, London. Rose’ was all the craze, Beef Wellington was a Sunday staple, and a dinner party starter much later to be maligned and feared by the foodie elite sat proudly gracing all corners of the land, prawn cocktail.
Beginning life as “Oyster Cocktail”, the Brits aren’t to be blamed for this culinary invention. Look to the gold rush community of the late 19th century and you can find a miner who, after inhaling his whiskey proceeded to tip his oysters into his glass and cover with Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, tobasco, ketchup and horseradish and proceed to eat. So popular was the idea of serving seafood from glasses, the west coast of America became entrenched with cafe’s serving the makeshift dish.
It would take another hundred or so years for the dish to gain it’s own way in buffet’s and starter plates. The Golden Gate hotel in Las Vegas claims to have sold over 40 million since the 1950s. The hotel likes to keep it easy, a simple prawn serving with a cocktail sauce, no salad is required to pad it out either. The dish which proved so popular set to become a Las Vegas essential, business meetings, stag do’s and even the Hangover guys would have been treated to some at one point or another.
The cocktail sauce of America would be ditched by the Brits, too “sharp” and “spicy” the common complaint. Fanny Cradock would “invent” Marie Rose, as Nigel Slater would later refer to it as “principally mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and a couple of shakes of Tabasco.” Re-invention in the most recent years has meant some real food monstrosities have come about; the curse is over-complication, “too many restaurant versions try to add the chef’s signature, usually chopped skinned tomatoes, tarragon or gherkins – in a stroke, turning a classic into a travesty.”*
Considering its re-birth at the dinner party, I would advise staying well away from Mateus Rose unless you also want to entertain with ill advised fondue sets and flairs that would keep Tony Monero happy! The BBC has a nice homage to the dish whilst this, may be the only “normal” recipe, three star Michelin Chef, Heston Blumenthal has ever published.