Steampunk Dinner Party Ideas
by Miss Essick
How to have a steampunk dinner party, with recipes and entertainment ideas... on the cheap.
What is Steampunk food?
That's a tricky one. One thing you can do is serve old-fashioned food to guests (like beef wellington, or bread and dripping, or syllabubs) and prepare it the old-fashioned way, but that's expensive to source and will take an awful lot of hard work. You could also have food that looks steampunk - cupcakes with marzipan cogs and top hats, that sort of thing. I'm assuming that you're on the poor side and just want to have fun without the stress, so for the purposes of this guide steampunk food nods to Victorian interests and culture, is really cheap to make for a bunch of people at once (because steampunks are a sociable lot) and plays with the recipe names to create a steampunk feel.
Victorians liked vibrant but brooding strong colours... sombre colours work just as well for setting your steampunk dinner party scene. Lashings of brown and mourning black. Photograph by: Handout photo , Torre & Tagus
Dinner parties combine two of my favourite things: frequent mad dashes to the grocery store and waking up to the pile of dirty dishes left in the wake of the maelstrom of gluttony the night before. In all honesty though, I really enjoy cooking for friends and family. What better way to bond with the ones you love than over food and some quality time? Sure, they clean you out of house and home, but it's completely worth it.
Steampunk dinner party - like a normal dinner party, but better. Photo: Cool Picture Gallery
Those of us who have thrown a soiree or two know it's actually trying to come up with recipe ideas that takes up most of your worry. You double that thinking-time when you get an intricate "themed" party. And just when you make up your mind on what to serve, you find yourself completely dumbfounded at how much all of this is really going to cost.
So, here it is, Essick's guide to a Steampunk dinner party, perfect for all Victorianaphiles and time travelling enthusiasts. You may not be the next Mrs. Isabella Beeton, but with this guide you can fool people into thinking that you are! Prepare for a cheap banquet that comes with both Vegetarian and Vegan options.
Steampunk dinner entertainment
If you're able to craft, get crafting to make beauties for the table and surroundings.
You can't induce Tesla to turn up with his latest machine for your delight and edification, but you can partake of Victorian parlour games which can be played at the dinner table or saved for after the meal.
Suggested Steampunk theme: Give a name to this event, claiming it is the first gathering of an esteemed and discreet Explorers' club. Encourage guests to bring a single steampunk artefact (either crafted or otherwise) and give a short speech to the assembled guests on how they acquired it. They may bring a "phoenix" feather, or a Martian skull, or a submarine so small it's invisible to the naked eye, or a crocheted Cthulhu, or their first ever attempt at taxidermy... who knows what such esteemed explorers might have found on previous travels?
Before the dinner party begins you may wish to indulge in a spot of tea-duelling, a favourite steampunk pastime. For this you will, naturally, need tea mugs. Ahem.
Steampunk dinner table decor and visual themes
Nawww. That's just amazing. Living rooms should look like this all the time.
It's an unfortunate truth; you haven't got two brass farthings to rub together. Nevertheless, point your guests in the direction of the Mookychick DIY Steampunk style guide for cheap costume ideas for the night. Insist on formal attire and take your guests' hats and coats at the door (or get your monkey butler to do it).
Steampunk dinnerware: Candles will imbue a Victorian feel. Think what you have lying around the house that you could use as tableware to create the feel of a faded attic, or a seance, or an explorer's club. Dried roses? Strings of pearls? Peacock feathers? Clocks and timepieces? Anything brass? Wrought candlesticks? Victorian photograph frames that you can put new downloaded steampunk pictures into? Bell jars? Anything from your cabinet of curiosities? Consider image-googling for steampunk art, or Victorian flower and bird illustrations, or even pathology illustrations (those Victorians were a rum lot). Print them out and place them elegantly under the cutlery, or wherever you will be placing plates for each guest.
Consider sourcing some steampunk music for the event. You can try steampunk bands like The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing, Abney Park, KK and the Steampunk Orchestra, Professor Elemental (a fine example of Chap Hop) or the softer sounds of Moth, their most recent album being Clockwork Elephant. Or, for the comedy of it, download an album of Music Hall songs.
Steampunk dinner appetisers
We want to keep things light. Granted, this is not a twelve course meal like a real Victorian dinner (we live in modern times, darlings. We want to feed our guests, not give them palpitations) but what's the harm in grazing a little before the main meal? These little hors d'oeuvres go wonderfully with soft french bread, dinner rolls or plain wafer crackers and water biscuits.
"Faded Empire" Curry Sweet Potato Balls (vegan) are easy to make and look very difficult to make. Delicious.
If you fancy taking a harpoon in hand and braving the oceans on the deck of your very own submersible, serve your guests Sauteed "Baby Kraken" (pescatarian). They will love you for it, but only if they love (or despise) Kraken.
Cheese plate (vegetarian). Arrange some different cheeses on a plate, along with a sauce cup filled with honey. You can also cut chunks of pear and arrange them on a plate - pear goes terribly well with cheese. Think of those small blocks of cheddar, or spicy cheese, or brie and the stuff with the blue veins in. They don't have to be dreadfully fancy... just don't feed them cheese whiz. If you can bear chutney, add small dipping bowls of chutney. The Victorians were obssessed with chutney, you know. They had chutney on the brain.
Martian artichoke. Of course it's from Mars. Just look at it.
This Martian Artichoke salad (vegetarian or vegan) is a dish guaranteed to delight all. Everyone knows that artichokes couldn't possibly have originated on Earth...
Steampunk dinner drinks
Historically, beverages such as Claret and Champagne would be served at such high Victorian gatherings, with Port after dinner. With this Gilded Age "Champagne" Punch recipe, however, I've created a nice non-alcoholic option for those who choose to enjoy their festive evenings without being three sheets to the wind. After all, there needs to be at least one sober person to turn to when things get a touch out of hand during a seemingly innocent game of blind man's bluff. The addition of dry ice is preferable. FOR SCIENCE! But optional.
Steampunk dinner main course
Empire Dreams - Curried lentils with veggies and rice (vegan) continues the Great India theme and can be made to look rather beautiful if you garnish with coriander and replace standard basmati rice with dark and nutty wild rice.
Game Hunter's Delight - Chopped steak in bearnaise sauce with herb potatoes (carnivorous with pescatarian option) is the flesh option, though you can also prepare it with salmon. Ideal for those who like their nature red in tooth and claw.
Steampunk dinner dessert
Steampunks invented cake, you know. And cheese. They also invented cheese. Thank heavens for time travel.
By now we're nearing the end of your dinner party and though your guests are quite stuffed they've miraculously found room for desert. Bravo! Besides having the usual fare of coffee and tea with biscuits, you could serve gelatine or ice cream with some "fancy" fruits such as pineapple. Victorians were in love with with the Orient, so lychees and cream would be rather decadent. Also, you can google recipes for the quintessentially Victorian dessert that is the syllabub.
So there you have it! A reasonable Steampunk dinner party that combines the charm of Victorian parties with the practicality of a modern dinner gathering. Have a go, invite your mad scientist consorts and wayward women alike. We all love tea parties, but come now... who says dining with friends and family can't be just as fun?
More How to guides, Interesting Hobbies and Arts & Crafts
Ideally your dinner party surroundings will look like Tesla's favourite dream, the one that makes him wake up smiley and ready for the day. FOR SCIENCE! Steampunk table lamp made by Jim Steel