When was the last time you either gave or were invited to a dinner party? Larry and I have plenty of generous friends, but they don’t seem as interested as we are to entertain at home. There’s always the possibility we have been deleted from their guest list, but I kind of doubt it.
It was about a dozen years ago that I began noticing that folks didn’t have friends over for a meal, not as much as they had in the past. Friends sometime suggested that we meet at a restaurant, for “convenience”. That usually feels kind of impersonal to me, as I miss the intimacy of gathering for a meal around someone’s “real” table. Nowadays, with our low salt diet and Larry’s impaired hearing, not too many restaurants appeal to us.
It seems ironic that food and cooking are more popular than ever, whether on TV or other forms of media. Everybody knows who Ina is, and many of us eat up “Top Chef”, not to mention running out for the trendiest new cookbooks. Yet, more and more, it seems people are reluctant to cook for friends. I’ve even been told that a friend or two are intimidated by the fact that I have, along with about a million other home cooks, a food blog!
I realize that prices are soaring in grocery stores – but the same goes for most restaurants. Cocktails and wine and a fun part of an evening at home with friends, and a fraction of the cost at a nice bar or restaurant. Thee’s no need to break the bank and serve tenderloin, truffles and French wine. When I was first married and poor, back in the dark ages pre-Larry, we gave lots of parties that centered around a big pot of soup or stew. I don’t remember anyone leaving early from those get-togethers at our little Ocean Beach apartment.
OK, it takes some work to plan, shop for and plan a menu. Your house needs to be reasonable clean and you need a clear plan about prepping, cooking and service. My friend Jan taught me years ago to write down every step of my prep – what time to do each step – ending with what time dinner is to be served. My favorite number for a dinner party is six, eight at the most, and I need to be organized.
Work, yes, but there is something so satisfying to me to feed my friends around the table dating back to my childhood. I love the ritual of getting out the Waterford my folks gave me forty years ago, my mother’s silver and dishes, my grandmother’s dishes and setting a pretty table. And then there’s the clean house the next morning, after Larry has done all the dishes and left a sparkling kitchen from the previous night.
Has the dinner party at home become a dying art or not?