Flat Cake Plates with 1-inch Rims are Compulsory

It is 103°F in Chicago, we’ve had power outages and my oven broke a few days ago. I don’t know what to do about the oven, or the heat, so I am taking a break from my kitchen. We just keep making gazpacho, which I don’t consider cooking, and watching movies.

But the heat hasn’t stopped me from reading cookbooks.

The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook by Anna Pump is one of my all-time favorites, and I return to it occasionally like a baby blanket. I recently found a copy of The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook, which I am also enjoying. It is full of similarly 1990’s-feeling recipes and ingredients. There is something so comforting about the lifestyle presented in these books. The Pumps expect that we’re all throwing parties for 30+ people on a regular basis. I thought is was worth sharing an excerpt that I particularly love, which clearly outlines what we should have on hand for entertaining:

Set aside a shelf in your closet for only party supplies. This should include at least forty-eight to sixty napkins and four or five floor-length tablecloths for your buffets, bars, and dining room table. Look for water pitchers, plates, and serving trays at yard sales. You’ll need at least six pitchers, forty-eight cups and saucers, forty-eight plates, and forty-eight 9-inch dessert plates, which we also find to be the best size for first courses and salads.

You’ll need an assortment of glasses: seventy-two drinking glasses and wineglasses. Add extra sets of cutlery, which include long-handled serving spoons, forks, and ladles for larger buffets. You’ll also need a thirty-five-cup electric coffee maker. It can always make less. Extra sugar bowls and creamers and extra condiment bowls should be on your list, too.

Two serving platters, 18×14 x 1 1/2 inches are a must. Ample and sturdy, they are perfect for meals ranging from twenty to forty people. You’ll also need an assortment of shallow bowls, approximately 12 to 14 inches in diameter, for salads, vegetables, and soups.

Flat cake plates with 1-inch rims are compulsory.

I find these instructions simultaneously silly and wonderful. At the same time that I dismiss the instructions as impractical and “out of touch”, I very much want this shelf in my life. A shelf full of hundreds of pieces of occasionally used service ware. The shelf, of course, comes with a closet large enough to accommodate it. And then the closet comes with an appropriately sized house in the Hamptons. And then I can invite you all over for a party where we’ll eat like it is 1990.

Stay cool, friends.

ps. Worth linking to Loaves and Fishes and remarking on the bizarre web design for the world of Anna Pump? Probably.


17 comments to “Flat Cake Plates with 1-inch Rims are Compulsory”

  1. I have that cookbook, too. And can’t bear to part with it for the reasons you note. Compulsory indeed.

  2. I, too, am a sucker for 90s-era cookbooks. Love this post. When I have MY house in the Hamptons, you’re totally invited too.

    Anna Pump looks like someone with whom I would like to have a martini.

  3. OMG! I have that closet with all that crap, I mean marvelous stuff only I entertained in the 70′ thru 90’s. Don’t do it on that scale or that formally anymore as times do change. Want some tablecloths, serving dishes, silver platters, etc? Come on down! See ya! and, it’s 105 here today. Old cookbooks are fabulous!

  4. Adorable. I now have this aching desire to go out and pick up some flat cake plates. I suppose 48 of them will do.

  5. The Loaves and fishes Party Cookbook has long been in my collection. I picked it up in the early 90’s when I was learning to cook and throwing parties all the time. It was the perfect companion! (Of course now I look back on that time through a fond memory filter!)
    And I do indeed refer back to the book every now and then. I have also given it as a gift to new cooks or entertainers a few times, complete with copies of my notes in the margins.
    Speaking of gazpacho, the Provencal Tomato Soup in there is delicious whether hot or cold!
    Hope your heat wave breaks soon. Thanks for this sweet post.

  6. What a classic and I love that the other girl is called Sybille! Looks older than the 90s but am impressed by how she thinks I will ever have enough room in which to fit all these suggested supplies!

  7. Anna Pump of Loaves and Fishes sounded familiar (I don’t have her cookbooks) then I remembered she and her shop have been featured prominently on several past episodes of friend Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa program on the Food Network http://www.barefootcontessa.com/television.aspx. Sybille Pump Van Kempen is Anna’s daughter (and co-author) who runs the shop now.

  8. Yep, Sage, that’s the one!

  9. I’ve had the big shelf in the big closet in the appropriately sized house (not in the Hampton’s), and it still wasn’t enough space to keep all that stuff! Realistically, housing all that accouterment requires about 3 BIG shelves in a BIG closet, at least.

    My stuff was well-used; I did throw parties for 12-50 people regularly, and loved every minute. Divorce and panic caused me to shrink my supply of bar ware and tableware, but I still have my 12′ table with screw-in legs for easy storage that I built myself, 35-pot coffee maker, wine glasses for 60 (red and white!), three sets of matching tablecloths to fit 6 tables (besides a jillion singletons that get used every day) and stacks and stacks of napkins that, yes, do get ironed and folded into neat stacks on a closet shelf, ready for whatever fun may pop up.

    Still, these days my favorite parties are with a total of 6 people, on the wrought-iron table under the old apple tree. Simplicity is increasingly pleasant to me.

  10. The most “out of touch” food personage will, for me, always be the Barefoot Contessa.

    “How easy is that?” Not very easy, ma’am; and please stop patronizing me!

    Still love her, though.

  11. My age is showing. I have the Loaves and Fishes Cookbook (plus 600 others), but not the party book, and half the required place settings, glassware, linens, etc. We used to regularly have 12-15 people in for sit down dinners, and parties for many more. We always had a theme, like “Provence”. Somewhere we’d just been. :-)

  12. Awesome. Fist Pump. (Couldn’t resist, sorry.)

  13. Had an incarnation of that closet at one time…then lterally came to my senses and let it go. ( deep cleansing breath ). This weather? You don’t have to shovel 100 degrees. Now,let’s have some of that gazpacho.

  14. Sunny Penner Cox says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 9:22 am

    @ Sarah: …or seventy-two.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 8:10 pm


  16. I need that stuff for everyday…..everyday is a party!

    I know what you mean about keeping the kitchen cool. Try grilled pizzas, and with your tomato mozzarella that would be quite refreshing with a mix of Arugula, Fresh Basil and Mint.

  17. Haven’t pulled out the Loaves and Fishes Cookbook in years! I use to make the blueberry oat-bran muffins often and since Bryan is such a blueberry fan, if you haven’t tried them they are delicious! A trip down cookbook memory lane, thank you!

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