Is The Dinner Party Dead? Not At Our House

The Dinner Party, by Henry Sargent, ca. 1821.
Image via Wikipedia

Say it ain’t so! Entertaining remains one of my favorite activities. I’d have people to dinner every week if we could afford it. Last Saturday we had three guests for dinner: oysters (a splurge), home-made curried cauliflower soup, roast chicken, ice cream with fruit. The guests (bless ’em!) brought Champagne and two lovely bars of soap as a hostess gift. They even wrote a thank-you note, on paper, delivered the next day.

We don’t have kids, so entertaining is easy enough and it combines all my favorite things: great food, lively conversation, a leisurely chance to get to know friends better, the chance to set a pretty table and try some new recipes or turn to a trusted stand-by. Lots of candles, fresh flowers, pretty linens. Heaven.

Apparently, not for many others — who have given up entirely, find the whole thing too much work/time/money/intimidating.

Is the dinner party dead? A panel of Guardian foodies weighs in.

If You're Really Not Cooking, What Are You Eating?

fried eggs {{uk|Яєшня}}
Image via Wikipedia

I really can’t believe this, but, hey, if a best-selling author writes it in a New York Times Magazine cover story, someone thinks it’s true. Americans no longer cook, writes Michael Pollan. Instead, exhausted, confused and overwhelmed, they make sandwiches, order pizza, gulp fast food, heat soup. Ugh.

I don’t buy it, although I’m clearly in one serious minority as one of the nation’s 10 percent who don’t own a microwave oven. Never have, probably never will. My galley kitchen is too small. I’ve never wanted to own one, even when I had slightly larger kitchens. I know, they do stuff fast. I’m not a big fan of speed as my life’s highest value, even when I commuted an hour each way into Manhattan to an office job and came home tired and hungry. Putting together a meal of fresh or dried pasta and a sauce and a green salad, which really isn’t cooking, per se, still takes maybe 15 minutes, tops.

The average American, Pollan writes, spends 27 minutes a day on food prep. If they’re eating two meals a day at home, only breakfast and dinner, that’s a big 13.5 minutes per meal.  If three a day — and an estimated 30 percent of us are now working at home, whether by choice or between office-based jobs — nine minutes. That’s actually plenty of time to make real food. Continue reading “If You're Really Not Cooking, What Are You Eating?”