In an age of social media and transitory geographical living, the art of the dinner party is quickly becoming lost. Baring extraordinary circumstances, Andrew and I have a few friends over for dinner at least once a week. What started out as a chaotic mad-house in a kitchen with literally zero counter space and no dishwasher has become something of a methodical science. We begin three hours before guests are scheduled to arrive by de-cluttering and cleaning the apartment. By the two hour mark, we begin cooking, although our kitchen is so small that only one of us can be in it at a time while the other continues to clean. Our performance has definitely improved over time, as what was originally so chaotic when guests began to arrive has now settled into an evening everyone really enjoys.
The keys to any good dinner party are good food, excellent drinks, and great guests. The food is a topic for another day, but suffice to say that Italian is always on the menu. Our drinks have become more elaborate over the past few months as we’ve experienced wider variety of whiskys. We usually begin with two or three bottles of wine and then have an after-dinner drink once we’ve settled into a game of cribbage. Of course, we have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks as well. Andrew is somewhat famous for his tea, and the guests always love to watch him seep it to the exact second before removing the leaves. We also serve plenty of mystic monk coffee, which also serves as a conversation piece.
The guests, obviously, are the most important part of any dinner party. We try, as much as possible, to have diversity of conversation throughout the evening, something which is much easier when the guests have diverse backgrounds, occupations, and religions. For example, if we invite all law students, we end up talking about the law all evening, something which can grow burdensome when you consider the fact that most of us have just finished studying for the day. If we invite eight people over (which is how many our tiny living room can accommodate), we always make sure that there are at least three guests who help us with this respect; three non-law students, three non-Catholics, three non-tech people, etc. This makes the discussion much more interesting. We are also sure to always invite a priest, as I’m pretty positive that the food at a rectory is not good and because we always need someone to bless the food.
A good dinner party is a reflection of the heavenly banquet. There are times, after a glass of wine and a great meal, when the conversation is so good and people are having so much fun that I get just a sliver of a foretaste of what that amazing banquet will be like. Those are the moments that make all the cleaning and cooking absolutely worthwhile.
More posts to come on cooking later in the week. . .