A few years ago, I had wanted to write a cookbook for drunk mothers. At that time, I had regular dinner parties at home in the Bay Area, or at our second home in Tahoe. My friends and I would be cooking for a crowd and simultaneously drinking wine. Sometimes mixed drinks, but mostly wine.
These two activities are mostly incompatible as there are many pitfalls to engineering a meal that will likely be served on your second cocktail.
Of course, you don’t have to be a mother to throw a disastrous dinner party. This was evidenced by my hipster co-workers who were mixing cocktails while executing a complicated and expensive recipe for Cioppino, a crab and lobster fish stew, for their girlfriends. Needless to say, the entirety was eventually fed to the garbage can, and Chinese takeout predictably ordered.
I would hear of these escapades on Monday, over lunch, and then another dinner would be planned for the following weekend, again to disastrous results. I finally pulled out a pen and wrote a simple menu on the back of my napkin.
Drunk men should not be making pizza at home for guests. Pizza burns when unattended. Yes, it’s true. If you put a pizza in the oven at 400 degrees it will be black by the time you notice the kitchen filled with smoke.
I was very motivated to solve this paradox as dinner is my favorite meal of the day, and I personally can not drink alcohol unless I’m well nourished. Plus, I wanted to enjoy my friends and not be the distracted cook and dishwasher at these events.
Over the years, I’ve devised many strategic recipes to get dinner on the table with a party in full swing. We entertained so frequently that I became an expert in this area.
In the early years, it was tempting to forget dinner and just serve heavy appetizers, but as the little ones arrived this was not an option.
It was no easy task to execute dinner for twelve with six screaming kids, music playing and my best friend telling me a funny story, all of this with a delicious chilled glass of Chardonnay in hand.
There were also those long summer evenings with the toddlers when my husband worked late, or took friends to a Giants game, or played a round of golf. After a full day with the little ones and the housework, (I’m not complaining I cherish those days) I needed a respite to recharge. It was then that I would pour myself a water glass size margarita and go outside to water the lawn and flowers while the cartoons played on.
As necessity is the mother of invention, I devised very clever ways to get dinner to turn out perfectly with the minimum amount of attention.
More to come on this project, but in the meantime, I’m putting my finishing touches on my book about grief and the year following the sudden death of my husband. It was a transformative time, but I miss my good humor and playfulness. It is this part of my character that I now wish to embrace moving forward.
Love and blessings.