Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recipe For Your Next Strategic (and Stressful) Dinner Party

While waiting out my daughter's orchestra rehearsal last night, I brought along my stack of magazines to catch up on. The new issue of Bon Appetit was on the top. Now don't get any ideas about nightly gourmet meals being concocted in my kitchen. Bon Appetit is just my favorite food fantasy magazine.
One article in particular proved pure folly.

Just the title suggests a long process: "Thank God It's Friday Night! The no-stress, plan-ahead, you-can-do-it, strategic, genius, totally delicious guide to throwing a dinner party" by Amanda Hesser. Is this for real? That title tipped me off that Ms. Hesser was perhaps promoting the impossible. As I delved in, I realized that, even in my former life as a Mom who worked from home, I would have difficulty pulling off this suggested dinner party.

The article recommends throwing a dinner party for 8 guests on a Friday night to kick off the weekend. I agree with that. But her idea of a dinner party is not a potluck and does not involve ordering pizza. Ms. Hesser goes into great detail, providing recipes, tips on inviting guests, and setting up ipod playlists. Best of all, she handily provides a Monday thru Friday evening timeline of all you must do to prep for your Friday night fete.

This timeline is unachievable for anyone who happens to work, volunteer, chase kids, and have any evening activities. Here are a few of the tidbits from the timeline for your dinner party:

  • Monday: Make the ginger syrup ??? Choose your outfit. (I can probably handle that one.)
  • Tuesday is my favorite day of  unattainable  tasks: Purchase all but the last minute farmer's market ingredients. (The author implies that you actually have access to a farmer's market on a daily basis.) Iron your table linens—HA! Good one!
  • Wednesday: Cook short ribs, order wine, and make seating plan for guests.
  • Thursday: Make that final farmer's market run, set dinner table, stock guest bathroom with towels and toilet paper.
  • Friday: Arrive home two hours before your guests arrive. Prep/cook main course, set out hors d'oeuvres, clean up kitchen. (Each one of these tasks could probably take me two hours.)

Perhaps these successful, stress-free, dinner party guidelines are achievable if you have a cook who lives in your house instead of children, a dog, and a husband.

I will still manage to pull off a Friday night dinner party without all the time-sucking, weekday prep leading up to the event. I love that my guests ask me what they can bring over to include in the Friday night dinner party. Good friends, great food, no fuss, and no Thursday night trips to that farmer's market. Bon appetit!

Amanda Hesser's stressful tips are in the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetit. The link to her article is not up yet, but I will post it when it is available.

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