Monday, July 31, 2006

Die Dinner Party Die!


Before I start on what will undoubtedly be a foul mouthed rant, I'll make a bit of a distinction. Going round to a friends house and eating a meal, catching up and having a bit too much wine and a laugh does not constitute a dinner party. That's just being a normal human being and enjoying your friends company and possibly even the food they cook. Being a normal human being you have people you like and that you like to spend time with and cook for. In some people, that perfectly normal behavior has mutated, all sense is lost and they invite people that don't know each other into their homes and watch them tear each other apart.

Now, I don't want to sound like an old cumudgeon, I like meeting new people, I really do. I'm happy to go to bars and restaurants and eat and get to know people and be a fine sociable fellow, but I need to know I have an escape route. I have to know that if I find myself surrounded by wankers I can get the hell out with the minimum of fuss. You go to someone's home you are trapped. Ok, so sometimes people I don't know turn up or are invited, I look to my friend and unless they can vouch for any newcomer, like in a gangster movie, "...this is Bill, he's a friend of ours", with a knowing nod, my guard goes up. Is this going to turn into a....dinner party??

You always have that one friend, sometimes a couple who throw these kind of events. In fact, they're always the kind of friends that you only ever really see at these kind of events. It's a million times worse if your are single, probably to a factor of ten if you are a single girl. You get these invitations and upon asking who'll be there, you get these slightly nebulous answers, "Oh, just Candida, she's lovely, works the night shift at the morgue, you two will get on, you are so similar". Once you are in a couple, then having to share a meal with other couples who you don't know can a be like water torture, and God forbid if you don't give a shit about property prices in South West London.

I have a vivid recollection of being at a dinner party with my then girlfriend, I was very ill after the starter, a massive allergic reaction to some shellfish, they called an ambulance and after having to call an fire engine to get me down the stairs I was carried past the dining room on a stretcher. To my heavily sedated amazement they were all still sat at the table passing the port. I don't know what I expected, but I was quite impressed and secretly appalled that the evening carried on as if nothing had happened. I suppose my vomiting blood all over the upstairs bathroom must have been quite the talking point.

And the food. I kid you not. The food is fucking appalling on the whole. My friends are actually all superb cooks, and I relish eating with them. But the kind of people who throw dinner parties in this country never stop amazing me with just how tedious they can make a meal and then harp on about the recipe book that they got it from. It's always a Nigel Slater. Without fail.

By the way, the above image is a plate of arroz negra from a meal I had with a group of friends and their friends in Spain, there was laughter, beer, good food in the sunshine. Proof, if proof were needed, that nothing is as cut and dry as a ranting food blogger would have you believe.


Catherine said...

dinner parties - what a quaint idea. do they really still exist? do people dress up for them? I remember my parents going to dinner parties, and my mum in an ankle length frock. Makes me think of Margo in The Good Life!

The continuation of the dinner party while you were removed by the fire dept. was completely sinister.

Great post.

Barbara said...

Is it just me? I never get invited to dinner parties. Either I'm very boring or I'm a bad guest. Give me the impropmtu meal with mates any day.

Ros said...

The one thing that is worse than having to go to dinner parties is being emotionally blackmailed into giving them. In my case this was for some friendless freshers who were all alone at Easter.

The buggers didn't even bring round a bottle of wine. And they drank all my chocolate liqueur. Never again.

On a more positive note, I like your site. It is good to find other London food blogs!