Monday, December 8, 2008

ENTERTAINING SEASON

I go barefoot most of the time at home, and shuck my shoes in most folks' houses, whether they ask or not. Socks or bare, I usually tuck my feet up crosslegged in my chair anyway. I don't care what they wear or don't at my house. Sometimes we "dress" for dinner, but that usually means breaking out a freaky old hat collection we've been adding to for years.

I cook. People come over. And I LIKE cleaning and preparing and all the prep stuff---it's all a part of the enjoyment for me. A leisurely cleanup after---that's another enjoyable adventure, discussing the evening, neatening the rooms, seeing each item clean and shining and back into its own place. Leftovers are NEVER a problem; I practically own STOCK in the Gladbox enterprise, and they go out of the house, laden with the guests' tomorrow lunches.

When we used to cater a lot of parties and weddings, some of our best and most memorable next-day meals consisted of party leftovers, a tart that didn't QUITE measure up, a quiche that didn't fulfill the expected golden glory of the others, a bowl of leftover fruit salad that found its calling in the blender, perhaps with a shot of rum; that extra container of chicken-salad sandwiches, cold and tender and perfect, and CAKE---all the level-off trimmings and the extra "just in case" layer, and all that leftover buttercream, extra delicious and creamy from two days in a Tupperware. Now when we have party nibbles, I STILL crave wedding cake on the plate.

And I LOVE lingering at the table through dessert, coffee, maybe liqueurs, more coffee, and enough stories and jokes and fun to leave us all gasping, or just quiet moments with a couple of friends, saying not much, saying all.

No time for cleanup before guests leave except grabbing a dozen or so go-boxes and dividing up the leftovers for whoever wants to tote 'em. I like doing the cleaning at my leisure anyway---usually to a Jane Austen or Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes on tape. Yesterday, stirring fudge, I flew along with Harry Potter, hustling Sirius up and away on Buckbeak to escape into the clouds. This is the first time ever I haven't had a "view" from the sink, so I let my ears do the entertaining.

And when Chris cooks, people from three townships away follow their noses and wind up in our backyard. Some of our best friends were once hungry strangers.

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