Wednesday Food: Bite off more than you can chew!
I hosted a wee dinner party last night. This, before making any effort to pack up the contents of my apartment which must be shipped in two days. Was this stupid? Yes. Was it great fun? Absolutely. Do I regret that I’ve put myself in a precarious position for getting packed? Not even a little.
Hosting of any sort– barbecues, birthdays, cocktail parties, formal dinners– is a tradition in my family. I had the great privilege of watching my mom refine hors d’œuvre and helping my dad fire up the charcoal grill for many years. In college, I attended a friend’s Shabbat dinner which she hosted in a studio apartment furnished only by a bed and coffee table. Six of us sat on the floor around the little table to recite the Kiddush and devour our Cholent. The logistics of the dinner mattered to no one, we were won over by warm, gregarious company and fantastic food.
I keep that evening in mind whenever friends are minutes from arriving and I haven’t gotten through all my preparations. The food is really just a prop, like a fireplace or a movie– it’s something to gather around. The worst meals are as memorable as the best, if all are approached with humor and humility. There are a few other notable points I’ll recommend…
- Clean the bathroom the morning before so that you’re not darting back and forth between food prep and cleaning agents/ toilet water
- Make lists– ingredients, dishes, beverages, cleaning chores, time schedules
- Take advantage of recipes that allow you to do most everything the night before
- 10 minutes before show time pour yourself a beverage and turn on music, regardless of how behind you are
- Assign dishes and drinks so you are not paying for the whole event
- Guests will absorb your attitude so if you are stressed, frustrated, exhausted, disappointed, they will know it
- Be flexible and improvise– last night I could find only 3 knives for 4 people so I used my pocket knife
- Make THIS and everybody wins (except, of course, the cow)
- Snorting a full-bodied Pinot Noir through your nose will make your guests feel at ease (exercise this liberally and you can skip the neti pot!)
Do you like hosting? It seems less common now than it was in our parents’ generation. Why is it better than just going out?
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