An after dinner mint. Specifically a Red Tulip after dinner mint. You’re looking at the length of this blog post and wondering how the hell can anyone have that much to say about an after dinner mint, aren’t you? OK, well it’s not so much about the after dinner mint – it’s about the memories I associate with it.
In the 70s my parents held dinner parties, mainly for their fellow teachers or golf friends. My brother and I were allowed to mingle briefly with the guests, nibbling on smoked oysters and cheese, before we were packed off to bed, safe in the knowledge that mum had already stashed away a couple of after dinner mints for us to eat the next day. Never under-estimate the allure of such a treat back in the days when treats were not easy to come by. It was a little bit of magic.
The other wonderful thing about those dinner parties was the way everything looked. It was so perfect. The good crockery, the good cutlery, and fresh flowers from the garden. Candlelight danced on silverware, crystal or glassware, which had been polished to within an inch of its life. If ever a 70s dinner party mood could be created in an elevated brick and fibro home on the outskirts of a country town my mother could do it.
The guests enjoyed on-trend dishes like gazpacho, vol au vents, prawn cocktail, creamy stroganoff and pavlova. The ladies sipped on a Brandy Crusta, Starwine or Sparkling Rhinegold while the men drank beer. And then of course they ate their allocation of after dinner mints with coffee.
As dawn broke the next morning my brother and I were fast out of the blocks to claim our after dinner mints. Amidst the debris of the previous night's magic, the simple thrill of liberating those wafer-thin mint-filled chocolates from their dark brown paper pockets is one of those innocent childhood memories I have never forgotten.