Why hello there. Dinner parties are bound up in so many of my childhood memories that I don’t quite know where to begin. Not that I actually got to eat at any of those soirees but their preparation, convivial sounds and excitement have certainly contributed to my passion for food, cooking and entertaining. Even if I do go about it in a slightly more informal manner than in my parents day.
On the evenings that our parents hosted their dinner parties, I vividly remember my sisters and I crouching on the stairs that led to the kitchen and dining room. We carefully pushed open the sliding door and peeked in to observe heavily bearded gentlemen, ladies in peasant blouses, brightly coloured napery, pottery goblets, copious bottles of wine and of course the food. Homemade soups, cannelloni of handmade pancakes stuffed with spinach and mince in a tomatoa and bechamel sauce, Mums homemade bread, beef bourginon, fondue and pavlovas.
My sisters and I were actually hoping to be caught, purely to gain a ‘sympathy after dinner mint ‘ before a final stern ‘go back to bed’ was thrown our way.
Many years ago I had some formal food training but those years seem very long ago now. My food life these days involves cooking for a vegetarian coeliac husband (I can hear your sighs of sympathy from here), myself and two small boys. As well as playing around with ideas for food much of my time. (When not working, parenting, reading about food, eating food, blogging, exercising somewhat lacksaidaisly, doing laundry, not ironing or watching food shows on the TV.)
We also love having people join us in our house to share a meal. For me, the key to a successful evening is to do whatever you can before the guests rock up. A relaxed host sets the vibe for the whole night. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy or complicated, just let it reflect who you are.
To prepare a meal for those you love, take a little bit of care with how you set your table, light some candles and freshen yourself up before the doorbell rings creates a a frisson of excitement. A feeling that I hope to never tire of.
I was completely chuffed to be asked by Margot and The Collective to join this initiative. (Once my private eye assured me that they were not a cult and were actually a bunch of uber talented bloggers out to convince the entire world that a dinner party can be an easy and enjoyable event.) I was totally on board.
So let’s raise a glass of something bubbly to The Art of the Dinner Party. What’s for dinner?