Monday, December 3, 2012

the dinner party is dead. long live the dinner party.

I wanted to dismiss it as just another bogus New York Times trend story, but it got me thinking. How often do I go to dinner parties, other than my own? Forget the term “dinner party,” how often do I go to someone else’s house for a meal, any meal?

Now, the article describes a world I have never, and will never inhabit. It’s dinner party as theater, where every component of an evening is orchestrated down to the serving utensils. It’s society ladies in caftans, seating arrangements and salad forks. It’s about as far away from the way most people eat and entertain as the moon. If this style of entertaining goes the way of the finger bowl, so be it, in my opinion. But does that mean the intimacy of having someone over to your home, feeding them and sharing real face-to-face communication is slowly dying?

Maybe it’s the term itself that needs to evolve. Even my own dinners are stretching the definition of “dinner party” – they are a soup and sandwich night with a friend, a brunch, a simple bowl of pasta eaten after a long day of work, with a bottle of wine shared among friends. There aren’t proper table settings at these meals, or candles, or centerpieces. Sometimes there’s no table at all. (I do love cloth napkins, though.) And as much as I fuss over menus and recipes, these gatherings aren't really about food. They are an excuse to connect with people I love.

Recently, Dan and I saw some close friends who live in another city. We sat in their beautiful living room and drank champagne and talked and talked until suddenly it was very dark outside, and our dinner plans of going to a restaurant started to evaporate. So we ordered pizza and ate it around the coffee table, opening another bottle of wine. And it was fantastic. I left feeling good that we didn't fuss over where to eat, or spend time in the car driving to a restaurant. We kept things simple and it made the night, and the conversation better.

I went to another party this weekend where one of the hosts said, up front, don’t come hungry. So we didn’t. In the end, there were homemade pigs in blankets, chocolate cookies and very fine Manhattans, but this party wasn't about eating. It was a reunion of sorts, where friend after friend walked through the door, re-forming a social circle that I completely took for granted a few years ago. Back then, it was nothing to assemble these people for drinks at a bar or dinner at our house. And now, we're all spread out in different boroughs and states, never in the same room at once. But somehow, everyone made the trip. I laughed so hard that night, my cheeks hurt.

Is a dinner party, with home cooked food, and cocktails and across-the-table conversation better than standing around someone’s kitchen with glass in hand? Sometimes. To me, almost always. But is it always doable? Of course not. People are busy, feeding people is expensive and time-consuming and if you want to have a big party, it can be really challenging to do anything beyond BYOB. But in a perfect world, there would be a little bit of both, or a fusion of the two. Maybe takeout Chinese with cloth napkins. Or a potluck with 20 friends. Or wine with homemade finger food. A shared meal can transform an entire day or week, it doesn't matter what's on the menu.


Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

I think there should be more caftans at your dinner parties. Next time I come over, Mabel and I will wear matching ones.

Like the demise old-school linen tablecloth restaurants, I think the so-called death of the dinner party is part of the "casualizing" of the American meal. It's the same thing as Momofuku being considered fine dining - you're right, it's not that the intimacy of the meal and face-to-face conversation is dying, it's just that we're approaching it in a different way. I personally like this way better - and I say this as someone who owns many serving utensils, though not a single place card holder.

Daniel said...

Give our struggles with her winter coat, I don't think Mabel would consent to wearing a caftan, but she would probably like finger bowls if she could drink the water after the fingers have been in it.

Lisa said...


mua thuốc tốt said...

Collagen có nhiều tác dụng , vậy collagen co tac dung gi ? tác dụng chính của collagen là giúp đẹp da và ngăn ngừa lão hóa da . cach bo sung collagen hiệu quả như ăn các loại rau xanh , thực phẩm nhiều omega-3 ,... Giảm cân có nhiều cách , trong đó dùng thực đơn giảm cân cấp tốc trong 1 tuần rất có hiệu quả . Mất ngủ xảy ra ở hầu hết các lứa tuổi , mất ngủ có ảnh hưởng đến thai nhi không ? Mất ngủ có ảnh hưởng khá lớn đến thai nhi . Bổ não và tăng cường trí nhớ có nhiều cách , trong đó thức ăn bổ não tăng cường trí nhớ được nhiều người áp dụng và rất hiệu quả mỗi ngày . Tai biến mạch máu não rất nguy hiểm , nên việc tìm hiểu về cách phòng ngừa tai biến mạch máu não là rất quan trọng .

Khánh Minh said...

Có một làn da đẹp và ngăn ngừa quá trình lão hóa da chính là đều mà hầu hết mọi phụ nữ điều ao ước có được 1234 diet drops , nó không quá khó nếu bạn dùng Oxynergy Time Exception Serum sẽ giúp đẹp da và ngăn lão hóa da hiệu quả và an toàn , ngoài ra khi ra ngoài nên kết hợp với trang điểm nhẹ nhàng bằng love me for me flawless finish powder compact , pillow plush cushiony lip balmlip gallery creamy color classic lipstick sẽ giúp các bạn trông đẹp hơn và thêm tự tin khi ra ngoài . Ngoài ra nên kết hợp với các loại collagen làm đẹp da shiseido pure white mỗi ngày . Thật tuyệt vời nếu các cô gái được các tràng trai khen đẹp và thơm mát , để có được điều này nên dùng amazonian wild lily shower gel , Fijian Water Lotus Shower Gel , atlas mountain rose shower gel , những sản phẩm này được làm từ thiên nhiên nên rất an toàn hiệu quả rất cao mà ai cũng muốn sử dụng.

ane semprul said...

This blog is so nice to me. I will continue to come here again and again. Visit my link as well. Good luck
obat aborsi
cara menggugurkan kandungan
obat telat datang bulan
obat penggugur kandungan
obat aborsi
cara menggugurkan kandungan


Blog Widget by LinkWithin