Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A catwalk of cakes

It has been a very quiet year so far. Most weeks, a couple of people contact me to order some Tupperware, but I have not been asked to do a party for ages. Then all of a sudden, two come at once. I could say it never rains but it pours, but it is a glorious weekend, a bleak London sun glinting on my fine kitchenware.

First of all, I take the Northern Line to Highgate to meet Sylvia and her friends. Sylvia and her most enthusiastic guests hail from Germany originally, and it really does seem to be true that German folk adore their Tupperware. Anya doesn't even have a house to put it in at the moment, but she stocks up for her new kitchen, ready to equip it later in the summer when she moves in.

Sylvia is having a bit of a kaffee und kuchen afternoon, and has fashioned a sort of catwalk for her ravishing cakes, using cans of tomatoes and some MDF. It is a lot more elegant than it sounds. A rhubarb cake, a marble cake, and a cake jewelled with fat plums all strike a pose, surrounded by key pieces of Tupperware. Sylvia herself gets well into the retro swing by sporting a fabulous 70's red floral maxi-dress from her mum's collection. Tall, and with long dark hair, Sylvia in her period frock reminds me of the very poised and chic German women who used to fascinate me on our family package holidays to the Franco-era Costa Brava in the early 70s.

I love the way the friendly guests don't take themselves (or me) too seriously, but take their Tupperware buying very seriously indeed. I am dispatched at the end of the party with a sheaf of orders in one hand, and an Oyster full of cakes in the other [right].

I run stalls at fetes now and again, when I feel like it. Over the years I have been rained on, shat on by birds, and made to hide my Tupperchef knife for fear of arrest. But it's nearly always a fun day, and generally I get a couple of parties out of every fete. This Sunday I have agreed to run a stall just a few hundred yards from my house, at Trinity Church Square in the Borough area of London. It is the Open Gardens Square weekend, during which well-tended little private squares all over London are opened up for the day to pleasure seekers and nosey parkers. There are often special one-off events taking place in the squares, like today's fete, which has a few stalls, some kids making 99s, a jazz band and a beer tent. I man my stall from 11 till 6, and it's a leisurely day. I am more interested in putting the word out about parties than in actually shifting any products, but for once I do sell quite a bit. My neighbour in the square is the Chickenbus stall, where Eleanor and her husband sell fair trade crafts and decorative items from Latin America. We while away the afternoon planning ways of building our little businesses.

Maureen from Johannesburg is already there as I arrive to set up my stall. She has previously stumbled across my blog, and is thrilled that Central London's only Tupperware consultant is her neighbour. Maureen and her husband are in London for a year, staying in a company flat over by Tower Bridge. I gather their kitchen storage leaves quite a lot to be desired, and I am happy to help Maureen upgrade.

Some very enthusiastic browsers get quite beside themselves at the sight of so much Tupperware in one place, and I am hoping to be running some local parties before too long.

Journalist Zoe Williams reviews a book in The Guardian this week called The Kitchen Revolution which is all about making the most of seasonal produce, cooking ahead and leftovers. She comments that

We have quite a bit of this left over (even though I've halved the measurements to cater for two), and for about the sixth time in the week, which makes it the sixth time in my entire life, I find myself thinking how much I'd like some quality Tupperware.

Needless to say, a catalogue is on its way to Zoe via The Guardian.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Famous Belgians

My friend Caspar is just back from visiting his parents in Antwerp, Belgium, where he came across this Tupperware shop and took photos for me (above and below left). I had no idea there was such a thing as a Tupperware shop. According to Caspar, the shopkeeper told him that the products cost slightly more in the shop than you would pay at a party.

I receive an email from Kevin, who is producing a play set in the 1960s. And boy, is he keen to get the details right:

"The play is set in London in 1962, and one of the props is a plastic, see-through biscuit tin. I was wondering if you could offer me any advice on this. I immediately thought of a Tupperware tub for this, but having done more research it seems Tupperware didn't reach this country until 1960, so would this mean in 1962 it would still not have been a common household item? Similarly I am after any information you can give me on what the Tupperware pots would have looked like at this period, and whether you think that one would have been used in this situation."

I explain that the Space Savers (right) look approximately the same as they always have, and would probably fit the bill. I refer the producer to his local consultant in Cardiff, but I do also offer to supply him with some props if the show transfers to the West End.

I take food writer Tom Moggach to task over his article about leftovers for The London Paper. He writes that "Investing in good tupperware also helps. Lock and Lock is easily the best brand, available from John Lewis". Now I don't have anything against Lock and Lock but, as I asked Tom, doesn't the fact that he uses the brand name Tupperware to generically describe storage containers mean that Tupperware must therefore be the best? He emails back with a sweet apology and a request for a catalogue.

My first party for ages is coming up this Saturday for Sylvia and her friends in Highgate. And on Sunday I have a stall at the Open Garden Square weekend event in Trinity Church Square, round the corner from where I live. More grandly, I am hoping to be running a stall at the Garden Fete at Lambeth Palace later this month for the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.