This may be an uncool thing to admit, but I’ve always been enthralled with the idea of playing hostess for dinner parties. I don’t know where this fantasy came from, exactly. But given the fact that I really like to cook (and am very good at it!), love hanging out with my friends, and derive great joy from cooking for more people than just me, it’s not at all unusual that I love the idea of hosting a dinner party.
Aside from the dumpling party I host annually on Chinese New Year, I don’t frequently have people over at my apartment for dinner. There are a bunch of reasons for this: I’m often working late or irregular hours, my apartment is small and I can’t fit a lot of people comfortably, and dinners can take a lot of work and if my week’s been exhausting, I’m going to opt to go out to eat with friends instead of have them over. As a result, 2016 nearly slipped right through my fingers before I got my act together and had some friends over for dinner like a full-fledged adult.
Two of my good friends had my boyfriend (who I am now going to refer to as 007 in this blog) and I over for dinner at their apartment about six months ago. There was no particular reason for the occasion except for the desire to hang out and have good conversation while enjoying home-cooked food. We had a great time, and ohmygod, the homemade Brazilian food we had was phenomenal. My experience with Brazilian food is sadly limited, but I enjoyed every bite of that meal and swore that I’d make a greater effort to seek out Brazilian food more often in my life because it was just that good.
007 and I immediately decided that the Right and Proper Thing to Do after being invited to someone’s home for dinner was to return the invitation. But then work and vacation schedules got in the way, and then 007 was in NYC for a few months so a dinner invitation was out of the question. Before we knew it, six months had passed, but as soon as we were able 007 and I invited our friends to come over to his apartment for dinner. Luckily for us, they accepted our invitation.
The thing with having people over for dinner after work is that work days can be exhausting, and working late means the whole thing could easily get derailed. Fortunately, we didn’t have any of those problems the night of our dinner. 007 and I were able to leave work on time and start cooking relatively quickly, and everything came together just how we expected it to.
The tablecloth was brought out and a lit candle placed in the center for ambiance. Places were set and wineglasses filled with white. A charcuterie board, plus hummus and pita, for starters. Mushroom risotto, baked salmon, and roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and gorgonzola for the main course. Chocolate almond toffee to finish.
It was perfect.
And as I sat back in my chair at the end of the meal, wineglass in hand, I thought to myself, “I really should do this more often.”
Because yes, having people over for dinner for a casual get together or an elegant dinner party can be stressful. Finding a time that works for everyone can seem harder than brokering world peace. Cooking dishes that will appeal to everyone can be an impossibly daunting task and there’s always the chance that everything in the kitchen will go wrong and the pizza delivery number will get used anyway. And cleaning up? Well, the less said about that part the better, but we all know dishes don’t do themselves…
But the payoff is so, so worth it. So in 2017, I hope to have people over for dinner, or even just coffee/tea, more often. Because very little in life beats good food and even better company in the comfort of home.