Date: Tuesday 7th March 2023
Venue: Edgbaston Golf Club
Sponsor: Sam Bilton
Members & guests gathered at EGC, and the evening began with many sampling Sam Bilton’s own creation a Runaway Ginger Cocktail, which consisted of a measure of ginger vodka plus dark rum topped up with sparkling cider. It was universally well received.
Above, committee member Ruth Pearse (LHS) with Sam Bilton.
Committee member Christopher Firmstone, centre.
Menus designed by Roger Hale
Dinner Minutes – Ginger and Saffron Dinner
After the huge success of getting Chat GPT AI to write my last dinner speech, I’ve unleashed the technological might of artificial intelligence once more, as each day passes the AI gets so sophisticated that I don’t even need check or edit the speech before I deliver it.
Let us cast our minds back to earlier in the year when we all gathered at Edgbaston Golf Club for our Ginger and Saffron Dinner. I simply typed ‘Ginger and Saffron meal, Buckland Club, Edgbaston’ into AI and off it goes …
“Ginger and Saffron” was a captivating and iconic TV detective series that defined the 1970s television landscape.
The series revolved around the dynamic duo of Ginger London and Saffron Morris, two savvy private investigators based in the bustling, violent drug riddled metropolis of Edgbaston. Ginger, portrayed by the charismatic Jessica Riggall, was the fiery redhead with a razor-sharp wit and a keen eye for detail.
Saffron, played by the elegant and enigmatic Marcus Hale, was the dapper and debonair partner whose suave demeanour often proved invaluable in their cases.
Seems to have gone a little off topic but I’m sure all will be ok in the end.
“Ginger and Saffron” stood out not only for its compelling mysteries but also for its rich cultural commentary. Each episode was a snapshot of the 1970s, showcasing the era’s iconic fashion, music, and social changes. Viewers were treated to a feast of disco dance floors, funky hairstyles, and groovy soundtracks that transported them back to a time of bell-bottoms and disco balls, all the things that epitomise Morris, London, Hale and Riggall.
The supporting cast added depth to the series, with characters like their tech-savvy informant Mad Billy Borghoff, and the gruff but lovable police detective, Sergeant Tidmarsh, providing comic relief and adding complexity to the stories and all communications.
Ginger and Saffron enjoyed nothing more than attending Ginger and Saffron themed Dinners (thank goodness, we’re back on track) and after slipping through a tear in the time continuum they found themselves slumped on the 18th hole of Edgbaston Golf Club, hazily they brushed themselves down and hesitantly entered the reception for the Buckland Club’s Dinner, they glanced at the year and realised it was 2023, what futuristic horrors awaited them so far in the future? But as they glanced around the wood panelled bar it seemed everything was reassuringly exactly the same as when they’d left the 1970s.
They tucked into the delicious canapés, delightful Pea Tarts with a Parmesan Crust and Pasternak Fritters with Verde Sawse. The saffron mostly utilised here for colouring.
Both of these morsels were highly addictive, although I managed restraint in anticipation for the rest of the evening.
Our host, Sam Bilton said that the first course, Langoustine and Crayfish Soup had turned out as it should, which was comforting to hear, Sam did say that she wasn’t used to professional chefs cooking her food.
The soup, from an 18th century Swedish recipe, was indeed a triumph, served with Cardamon scented Gingerbread and Saffron Buns. It seemed we had fulfilled the brief in one tasty course.
Langoustine & Crayfish Soup
Sam explained that her love of food in general was inspired by reading Mrs Beaton’s shilling cookery book from 1871 and this started her on her food historian journey, helped along by her parents’ extensive travels as she was growing up, this is also helps explain her love of spices.
Sam also told us that her family eventually settled in Saffron Waldon which awakened a lifelong interest in saffron, we should be thankful that her parents didn’t decide to settle in Cockermouth, or Bell End in Worcestershire, or Pishill in Henley-on-Thames, or Minge Lane in Upton upon Severn, or Fanny Street in Shipley or worst of all … Shitterton in Dorset. It seems I’ve left myself wide open to criticism of childish vulgarity … that’s Wideopen in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Sam explained that saffron most likely got to Britain by Lebanese traders who accidentally landed in Cornwall and luckily traded saffron for the locally produced tin to make containers for their tea. Although if they’d accidentally landed in Devon, they could have brought forward the invention of Devonshire cream teas by several centuries.
England used to have a massive saffron industry, it really took off after the Black Death, every cloud eh?
We learnt many fascinating facts such as:
- It takes 70,000 crocus flowers to produce 1lb of saffron
- In the Middle Ages merchants would add other substances to saffron increase profitability, the punishment for this was being buried alive
- Alexander the Great bathed in saffron infused water to help heal his battle wounds
- Cleopatra used saffron as an aphrodisiac
- Ginger people – more likely to be left-handed & unlikely to go grey
- They are also more susceptible to sunburn
I was very much looking forward to the next course of Mutton and Mango Curry, this was a Victorian recipe. Sam explained that our modern-day curries are more authentic. Victorian curries had many similar ingredients but not in the correct quantities, similar to Eric Morecambe’s piano playing -all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.
Anglo Indian Curries came about When the British first came to India, initially they only consumed rice, bread, porridge, and bread pudding, but soon they were altering typical British foods to suit the Indian climate. As with any multicultural situation, the food had to be remade, re-adjusted and cooked to favour the English palate. That’s how Anglo-Indian cuisine was born and over the many decades transformed into Vesta Beef Curry, de-hydrated curry Beanfeast and Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodles.
As a point of interest, the first curry house in Britain was the Hindostanee Coffee Housewhich opened in 1809 and Veeraswamey on Regent Street in London opened in 1926 and is still open today. Nothing to do with our meal but always good to have restaurant info.
Mutton & Mango Curry
Sam told us about the many different uses for ginger and other spices, including their use in after dinner banqueting houses, where selected guests were taken to indulge in expensive sweet spiced treats designed to encourage lusty behaviour, although I saw no evidence of lusty behaviour during our Honey and Treacle Tart course. Ladies were encouraged to consume the spiced treats so surprisingly it seems gingerbread was the forerunner of Rohypnol.
One 16th century gentleman, Phillip Stubbs was fully against banqueting houses and any fun in general, including dancing sport and a particular hatred for hats.
Fear of hats, or cocklaphobia, is a serious condition and not to be taken lightly or joked about, anyone taking the pith of this condition should think again, it really is beret poor behaviour and could be the final straw for some sufferers, it really isn’t conical.
The evening concluded with questions from Bucklanders where we discovered that if you consumed too much saffron you might die laughing and also, if you eat saffron before drinking you can’t get drunk.
And in what seemed like a blink of the eye in the infinite continued sequence of existence of events that occurs in an allegedly irreversible succession from the past, through the present and into the future, the evening was over and as we nibbled on the delightful finale of Chocolates and Fruit Cake laced with Pepper, our evening was at an end.
I glanced round and saw the shadowy figures of Saffron and Ginger hastily retreating back to the 18th hole and the relative culinary normality of the 1970s to enjoy a crispy fried pancake and strawberry angel delight, followed by a packet of Spangles.
Many thanks to Sam Bilton for such an informative evening and for putting together, dare I say it, an edible and enjoyable meal.
Dinner Minutes Secretary
9th November 2023
Members voted overwhelmingly to continue with the Club tradition of the Annual General Meeting taking place after the spring dinner. Possibly an indication of the extent of the alcohol that had been consumed, rather than the entertainment value of previous AGMs.