What’s better than getting together with friends and family? Our kids have parties all the time. We need to open up to our colleagues, friends and neighbors. We should enlarge our circle of friends. Our homes are not made to be hiding places. Any time spent with friends and family is worth the effort of serving a meal and creates happiness.
Keep it simple
A dinner party should always be gathering of like-minded people. Only invite guests that you really want to have around yourself and of whom you believe that they are interested in one another. Eight, ten people are a good size, so everyone can talk with each other.
Choose a one course meal that you are familiar with. Certainly you can choose something easy, like pasta. That is always a hit!. You may serve it with a soup to start, a salad on the side and a dessert afterwards. Important are good bread, butter, and olive oil for munching. If you choose to work with a catering service, the atmosphere could be a little bit like in a restaurant. Not as precious and authentic as home prepared food. It does not matter if you have been standing in the kitchen for one hour or ten. The only thing that counts is that it tastes good.
Relax! It’s not a competition
To ease the stress the best thing is to prepare the day before; calm and with leisure. The whole thing is supposed to be a pleasure. The host belongs to the table and not in the kitchen; the guests want to enjoy their host! Therefore you might prefer stewed or oven-baked dishes over au-point cooked dishes. Comfort food is always popular. Soups can be prepared the evening before, desserts anyway. Personally I am a fan of Hungarian Goulash, which tastes better every time you warm it up.
Be careful with experiments. It can be fun to try out dishes the first when you have guests, but you will need a back-up plan in case something goes wrong. You don’t have to apologize to your guests but you need a trick for the show to go on.
Have a great time
You are the life of the party! It’s your turn to get the party started! Just do not rush! Invite your guests early so they can mingle and snack on nuts and appetizers before the dinner starts.
Instead of serving each dinner on plates it shows more generosity to serve “family style”, which means everybody helps himself from the pots and plates. That makes it also easier for the guests to open up to their neighbor. And the host can devote himself to his highest duty: to enjoy the evening.
Party more and stress less! Hosting small casual parties does not have to be stressful. You’ll probably have a lot of time to enjoy the party with your guest. People will appreciate your effort and hospitality. Over the delicious food and great conversation you may look forward to the next get together.
It is better to build a longer table than a taller fence. Unknown
There is a piece of furniture in most homes that experienced a change of importance over the the last decades. It’s very often found in the kitchen but in a lot of cases there is a whole room dedicated to it. At some point it was the control room of a family, a place where most important decisions were made. Over the years it has lost its importance and has been degraded to a playing area or a storage place for paper and other stuff.
I am talking about the dinner table. Not so long ago that was the place where the family met, up to three times a day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am the offspring of one of those families growing up the in seventies and eighties in Germany. We did not only have breakfast together every day before school. No, my mom cooked every day a meal for lunch, because my dad came home from work, and in the evening we gathered again around the same table for Brotzeit. I continue to strive to spend many mealtimes during the week and especially on the weekends with my wife and three children.
Nowadays it looks like this is the exception to the rule. According to a survey of Department of Health and Human Services in 2011 -2012 fewer than half of Americans eat meals daily with their families. That makes sense. Everybody including children are more independent now. Schedules are tight. Grabbing a bite (mostly fast food) is quite simple. But what’s the price families pay for that convenience?
Here are some benefits to consider:
Eating at home is normally healthier than eating out
Eating together means eating slower, recognizing earlier when to stop
Family dinners promote better communication skills in children and adults
Eating together teaches social skills, helping children to interact with peers
Sharing meals supports creativity and critical thinking
But eating together is not only beneficial for children:
Eating lunch in the office together supports the team culture and morale
Sharing meals brings people together and invites the exchange of ideas
Doing business over a meal is more convenient than in an office
Inviting strangers to share a meal creates friendship and tolerance
Sharing meals nurtures the mind and the soul and supports happiness
So the next time you are up for a meal think about if you want to munch something all by yourself, or if you should ask that person near you if they would like to eat with you. “Mahlzeit”
In Germany during the 16th Century it was common that the food of the man of the house was more hearty and solid with more meat and fat compared to the other members of a household. In some areas this was usual until the 1900s. Today the expression stands for simple, traditionally made food with primarily local ingredients. I am using it here as a synonym for home-made-food.
Unfortunately, the fate of home cooking looks grim for the future. The Washington Post even titles an article “The Slow Death of the Home-Cooked meal”. All the cooking shows and celebrity books can’t change it: only about half of all dinners eaten at home in the USA are homemade and eating out is very popular.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with eating out. My family loves it! Picking a restaurant for a special occasion; enjoying vacations; trying out things you don’t cook at home. Eating out is great! Same thing with catered or processed food. Time is scarce, schedules are busy. Who has the time and the guts to stand in the kitchen every day?
But here is the thing: Eating out becomes boring, when done too often. Plus, it’s not healthy. Processed and frozen food is known to be bad for the waistline. And considered from a financial point, both eating-out and processed food is expensive. So…
I have to admit I love eating and I always have. I joined my mom in the kitchen from early on (even she did not always like it). I loved the TV shows of the French Maestro Chef Paul Bocuse.
The way he picked out his fresh ingredients on the farmers markets; the way (and speed) he sliced his onions; the amounts of wine and cognac in his dishes; unforgettable!
But the switch from just eating to actually cooking the food myself came with my family. And this is probably the most important reason why I cook: Home cooking is a group activity. That certainly sounds like everybody’s helping and setting the table and all that, but that’s not it. It’s the act of cooking for my family. Cooking what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. And the best part of it is sitting at the table together and eat.
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