I love going out to dinner. I love trying new dishes, I love my reliable favorites, I love the glass(es) of wine, and I really love not doing the dishes. But, these days I think most dining out feels like an indulgence. Catching up with friends over dinner for six at a spendy restaurant is a very special treat. So why not share a meal at home?
I’ve noticed the trend. Over the last year, our best gatherings with friends have been at someones house instead of the hot new spot South of Market. It’s been easier on the checkbook, sure, but in many ways it’s been a lot more fun. Friends of mine who barely cooked at all are dusting off their stoves and making a meal. Those more culinarily-inclined (ok, I know that’s not really a word) are loving it-trying recipes they haven’t used or just making a fresh-from-the-market meal with whatever looks good.
I always say, and you’ve heard it here many times, there really is something special about cooking a meal for people. We went a long stretch without being invited to anyones house. I realized it was my job-no one wanted to cook for the cooking teacher. Finally my good friends have understood that I’m happy to eat anything they make. While I care about the food, it’s more about the gesture. I know what it means to make a big meal and I think it’s one of the best things to share. Everyone loves to be cooked for…maybe it’s hearkens us back to being a kid, I don’t know.
Whatever it is, give it a try. Pull out that cookbook you love so much. Get online and see what to do with those favas you bought at the market. Call two, three, four or six friends and tell them you’re making them dinner. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to come from your soul. We had family dinner with friends a few weeks ago-perfect asparagus, crunchy slaw, and homemade fried chicken. Simple food perfectly cooked with love. It was the best! At my last dinner party I braised short ribs with mashed potatoes, swiss chard, and horseradish cream, all topped off with chocolate pots de creme. Thank you Suzanne Goin and Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
If you’re anything like me, you owe a few people a meal. Get it on the calendar, go to the market, make it happen!