Friday, December 23, 2011

guests for dinner and a movie (lyn)

I am not comfortable in the kitchen.  Both my sisters are excellent cooks.  They know what to throw in to make something taste better, to make a sauce thicker, or to enhance a particular flavor.  I have no idea.  I am pretty much a cook-by-numbers kinda girl.  So when I invite people for dinner, even people I know and love, I get nervous.

Tonight, Gail and her husband Greg (whom I’ve never met) are coming, and Robyn and her friend Richard will join us later for a movie.  I thought I had invited everyone for dinner, but somehow the dinner-part was missing from my invite to Robyn, so she’s having dinner with Richard before.

I start culling through recipes.  Pasta is easy, and I know I can make it, but it is fattening and Gail and I are both counting points (she actually, me figuratively).  I go to Agata and see a stuffed pork roast that looks good.  I’ve had it before; it’s stuffed with figs and apricots.  But Alexander hates it, and maybe it’s too unusual to be universally liked, so I decide not to take the risk.   Next I consider a veal roast but Agata's only has a two pound one and I’ll need more.  But then I pass the prepared-foods section and cave.  Everything there is all made, delicious, and of course easy to prepare, as all I need to do is warm it up.  I buy two pounds of cooked brussel sprouts, some potato latkes, two pounds of flank steak, and ingredients for a portabella-tomato-goat cheese salad. 

Dinner is pretty much done, even before I start preparing it.  Basically, I only need to make a salad and heat up the other dishes.

Gail and Greg and Robyn and Richard all arrive at 7:30.  I thought I’d told Robyn to come around 8:30, after we’d eaten, but then again, I thought I’d invited her for dinner and I hadn’t, so she’s probably right.  Now I have the embarrassing situation of having them come over, meet Greg and Gail, then leave and come back an hour later.  I feel ridiculous.

Greg is adorable, easygoing, and fun.  I’ve known him a year through Gail’s stories, so its nice to finally meet him in person.  He’s a brilliant heart surgeon, but also a regular guy, down to not being a big fan of salads, liking soft drinks, and adoring football.

I make the salad. Put the brussel sprouts and steak in the oven to heat up, and microwave the potato latkes. We sit down to eat, and because Greg and Gail are polite, they say everything is delicious.  The steak is cold and tough and the brussel sprouts are near-freezing.  I offer to re-heat everything but only Alexander says yes to the offer.  Surprisingly, everything gets eaten anyway.

Robyn and Richard arrive around nine.  We all sit down to watch Young Adult.  It’s boring and bleak.  To stay awake I eat about a pound of cashews, a cup of chocolate covered pomegranates, and about 10 cookies.  No one else seems to eat anything.  The movie ends and we talk a bit.  Turns out that Robyn’s mom lives in the same building as Greg and Gail, and Gail knows Robyn’s mom quite well.  Even in this big city, it can be such a small world.

Everyone leaves around 11:30 and I’ve left with memories of a good night, a bad movie, and bags of food….chocolate candies from Robyn and a year’s supply of water and soft drinks from Gail.  In addition to having Robyn’s mom in common, they share something else; neither is capable of arriving anywhere without bearing gifts, even with, “PLEASE DO NOT BRING ANYTHING” announced and emailed before.

I’m lucky to have such great friends, and I love sharing them.

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