sprinklefingers: pulling it off.


in less than one week i’m hosting a plated christmas dinner for 10. TEN. each time i’ve been asked if someone can bring something i say, “oh, no. thank you. i’ve got it handled.” and i do. i DO have it handled. but, just between you & me, i’m already a little tired.

i wish i could say that i’ve…

No, you are not crazy.

Or else, I am too.

When you have a passion for something, that’s what you do. It’s more than “pulling it off,” which of course you will do because, I suspect, you are a good and dedicated cook and someone who is generous enough to spend time and talent entertaining others graciously.

But in addition to pulling it off, there’s the gastronomic satisfaction of planning a new menu that works. The creative satisfaction of trying new recipes. The mathematical and logical satisfaction of working out the hows: to cook two things that need different temperatures and times in one oven, when to cook ahead and when not to, when to remove the cold soup from the fridge so it will be the right temperature. The fashion satisfaction of setting a lovely table. And of course, the emotional satisfaction of getting it done, and especially, well done.

It is absolutely enervating. But worth it. I have been entertaining at dinner parties for many years. I have to confess that there have been times when, after I have cooked everything and set the table and finished the flowers and stuff, and there are a few minutes left before my guests arrive, that I wish the evening would end right then and there, because it feels as if everything is over. Like finishing a difficult sodoku or working out a business problem.

But then the company comes and they ooh and aah over the Gougeres or the Pan-Roasted Chicken with Prunes and Port Wine or the Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce and I am revived!

At the end of an evening like this my husband and I used to stay up late and clean the things that needed hand washing. This gave us an opportunity to “debrief” the evening. And it would let us feel the glow for an hour or so longer.

These days we actually let some things wait for morning. It gets more tiring as you get older.

But I will never give this up. And neither should you if you love it. I have years and years of spectacular memories. I am certain that had we eaten a nice dinner in some restaurant we would also have had some wonderful memories of those meals. But it would not be as satisfying as the meals we hosted at home. They were worth all the trouble, time, money and work.

They are some very special deposits in our memory box.

Let me suggest that you keep menus of all your dinners. Make sure you include the wines you served and the dishes you used or even if you had special table decorations.

Good luck with your dinner. Please post so we can read about it! I would love to know the menu.