Anybody who knows me even a little bit knows that of my many lacking talents, the kitchen is high on the list. I don’t really do cooking very well. Don’t like it. Never learned how. Never enjoyed being put upon to create a culinary masterpiece. And frankly was scared of failing and serving an overcooked roast or, worse, giving my guests/children food poisoning.
But I have overcompensated over the years. My friend Patty hit the nail on the head one day when I had a few of my best gal friends for lunch. A lunch that of course I did not cook. We sat down to our beautiful plates of food at a beautifully set table with a quirky floral arrangement (done myself) and mismatched plates but very entertaining décor and my dear Patty looked around and said “Sukey, you are an excellent provisioner”. She is too kind to have added the second half of that statement which should have been the follow up “and you do a superb job with the smoke and mirrors”.
It’s true. I’m an imposter. I cannot cook but I can certainly entertain. I host wonderful parties. I set a magnificent table not just elegant but welcoming, quirky, with personality grace and whimsy. I agonize over the seating charts. I use seating charts. I LOVE thinking in advance about the conversations that may happen around my table and I delight in adding the wild card at each table. You know the wild card. We all have a few of them in our coterie of friends and family. They are the ones who always stir it up. Shit disturbers is a less delicate way of putting it. They often are strong opinioned folk with less of a filter. There is something so deliciously fun for me about placing a priest next to a lothario, a conservative republican next to a liberal democrat. The challenge with this is of course that they have to have at least something major in common and they need to know that (usually that is my job to make sure before they sit down or shortly thereafter) so that they have something to talk about before the fur starts flying.
Sex, politics and religion really are the most fun dinner conversations.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the food. Which is very important but I am not very good at.
Hence the lovely candles, the charming dinner partners, the funky flowers, the abundance of alcohol. They all hide a myriad of faults.
My most favorite form of culinary smoke and mirrors is breakfast. Anyone who has been an overnight guest in our house has probably been a part of our flying pancake breakfast. This is best acted out in a long and narrow kitchen. The cook (sadly, moi) makes the pancakes and then the diners line up on the far side of the room with their plates. I hurl the pancakes at the guest and if they catch them then they get to eat them. Of course the 3 second rule is strongly enforced. Experienced diners can get overhead passes. Novices start with a gentle underhand toss. This dining experience does not discriminate. We have played this as young as 3 and as old as 75. I think there is room for more age at the top. I’m thinking we can go into the 90s.
We haven’t trying flying burgers yet. Perhaps this summer. Drama disguises a whole world of errors.
Egg salad sandwiches and sliced tomatoes served on the right plates with a good crowd is probably good enough fare to please most palates.
Oh, but of course with the proper Sancerre.