Here’s what I ate on Sunday:
Chicken chilaquiles with green sauce and black beans for brunch made by Sam and Richard.
Baked brie and mango spread on crackers for a dinner appetizer made by Sean and Meredith.
Chicken with tarragon cream sauce and softened carrots with cinnamon for dinner by Sean and Meredith.
Viennese meringue pie filled with fresh berries and cognac whipped cream for dessert by Sean and Meredith.
And what, you ask, did I do to possibly deserve to be served this fabulous, restaurant-caliber array of food? Food so tasty it could have only been made with the genuine TLC of people whom you actually know and like? I made food for them.
Although I daresay I may have to make some better food for them sometime very, very soon. Which takes me to my case in point, that cooking parties are a highly contagious strain of the delicious dinner disease.
My parents used to exchange eating out favors with their friends when I was little. It’s customary with the Chinese that one couple or person pay for the entire check of a restaurant meal (which could be for a party of several couples or families), usually the couple/person who initiated the outing. However, regardless of whoever initiated the meal, it was hideously bad class to let that person pay without putting up a very good, often physically engaging, fight for the check. After years of watching grown people spring for the bill as if tackling a football, being sent on clandestine missions to collect the bill from the cashier before it could be brought to the table and other such strategems, I have reservations. First of all, not everybody prefers the institution of treating these days–or of splitting the bill down the middle, or paying one’s portion to the nickel and dime. And then the tip, oh the tip. Any way you dice it, things can get complicated. (Maybe not that complicated–but have you ever eaten with new friends and when the bill came, all looked at one another with blank faces for a good pause before figuring out what to say/do?)
Dinner parties, on the other hand, are much more soothing. Not everybody might like to host them, but everyone does enjoy them. And that’s fine. But when you combine a few people who enjoy hosting as well as going to them, you’ve got dinner party fever.
I very much enjoyed a rare day of not having to lift a finger for anything I ate and only paying for it by way of beverages brought to share–Orangina for the brunch, and wine for dinner. Cost calculator? Under $20. And no risk of injury from check football.