Last night two delightful women friends and I ate at an upscale place that popped up in our neighborhood a year or so ago, and enjoyed some beautifully prepared fish. In pursuit of something a little more exciting afterwards, we headed downtown, which was pretty quiet at 11:00 (we hear things start hopping later, but we need our sleep) so we headed to a local wine bar for a nightcap. I enjoyed my first glass of Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, all that it is cracked up to be. On the television above the bar, the film Big Night was playing. I hadn't seen it in years, and it was on mute, but I'd been thinking about it recently because Stanley Tucci, who wrote the screenplay and also stars and directs, charmed me so in Julie and Julia only a few weeks ago. It's about brothers who own a trattoria in New York in the 1950s, and they are trying to keep their enterprise afloat through whatever means possible, even if it means violating the principles of at least one of them at any given moment. It culminates in a huge, decadent dinner.
Which got me thinking about dinner parties. I saw a good number of long-time friends over the summer, and I remembered one of the things I really love about them: they have dinner parties often. They don't worry themselves silly about whether the house is immaculate or what kind of table linens they'll use, but they say, "Hey, I was thinking we'd invite the Smiths and the Tannenbaums over tomorrow night..what do you think?" And they pick up the phone and, not surprisingly, people accept, and everyone has a lovely evening.
I used to do this sort of thing when I was a married person. We had many memorable meals--several people have confided recently they wish my former husband and I were still married if only for his divine chimichurri steak sauce--generally washed down with lots of decent wine. There was great conversation and inevitably a marital argument the next day over who did more work and who took whom for granted.
Despite this last bit, I realized this summer that I miss having people over to eat. So what's stopping me? Well, someone to bounce things off of, for one. Not to mention someone to do part of the work. This is, however, as my friend Julia would say, crap. I've got plenty of people who would be happy to come over and set a table or pick out wine or shop with me for ingredients. So it's time for me to get past the idea that because I don't have a spouse (the truth is I fear having a dinner party throws my very much alone status into high relief) and have a tiny house that I can't entertain. The other stumbling block,though, is that I have a lot of friends, more than I can sit down in my house at one go. So this may be a series of dinners. Stay tuned, and feel free to send any menu ideas you've got.