Saturday, March 31, 2007

Food Stress

On Tuesday, we had our Literary Salon (i.e., Book Club) at J's house. Now, our whole group is a fan of good food (and J is often the one leading the charge on ensuring dessert, so she's right there too), but some of us also love cooking and some of us don't - and J is in the latter category.

And so, as the date of the event approached, her anxiety level rose. She started stressing out over what we would order. Understanding the importance of food to this group, she stressed on whether people would be happy with delivery. Now, we all know that I'm a fussy eater, but I love this group and so I would be happy even without food (I guess to be perfectly honest I'd rather have no food than bad food), but I certainly didn't think it was worth her stressing out about (not that she would listen).

Anyway, the night arrived, and I wasn't sure what she had decided. I arrived - late (work is overrated) as J was finishing up a tour of the apartment. She had arranged a nice big table (actually hers and her neighbor's kitchen tables pushed together - NY is all about being resourceful!) in her dining area. She sat us down, put out two big bowls of dumplings and passed around a menu to order.

I was confused. Had she already ordered food? Was she going to order again? Where had the dumplings come from? Carelessly, she brushed the question away, she had made those, but they were "no big deal". Now, granted, I was hungry - but that wasn't the only reason that I ate 18 or so (but who's counting) of these most Excellent dumplings - I ate them because they were fabulous. Apparently they were beef and broccoli (a good start to anything) and she had made a dipping sauce with fresh ginger and garlic.

We did in fact order from Land Thai, a perfectly good Thai restaurant on the UWS and the food was good. But I could have survived quite happily just on the dumplings (I was honestly stuffed before the 'real' food arrived.). We had ordered a bunch of dishes and I tried bites of everything, but (honestly!) the high (food) point for me had already passed - but then, I'm a huge dumpling fan.

I hadn't even stopped to consider what she would offer for dessert, assuming that this would be something purchased. But here again, J surprised me. She had baked A's very favorite cupcakes to celebrate his birthday (2 weeks before, but then we can't schedule our Salon just to conform to A's birthday).

I personally saw him eat 3, though he may have gotten a fourth one in when I wasn't paying attention (and he took all of the 'extras' home). For someone who "doesn't know how to cook", J proved to be a perfect hostess because she concentrated on what she thought her guests would like. Cooking is just a way to entertain, but as J ably demonstrated, the best way to be a good hostess is to know what will make your guests happy (even if it's a cake mix out of a box).


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