Growing up in Napier my parents often hosted, and went to, ‘dinner parties’ where friends and neighbours had My Kitchen Rules style instant restaurants in their own homes for 6 – 10 people with a sumptuous 3 course meal. Housework was done, recipes consulted, silver polished, wine selected and best clothing worn. Often children attended but ate spaghetti on toast and stayed out of the way.
These dinners allowed the lady of the house to prepare fancy dishes to impress her friends, work colleagues and neighbours who would then go all out to do better when they were the hostess. These occasions were not only about the food as they also allowed the host and hostess to do some social engineering and introduce people to their wider networks. As new food fads came and went they became the focus of the menus and I recall fondues, stir-fry, cordon bleu, microwaves, flambéd anything and micro-meals all having their place at the table and in later years an increase in the presence of foods from other cultures. These were always fun and exciting events that we, as children, did our bit to assist with from cleaning the house to setting the table.
Fast forward to today….
Look around you in the staff lunch room and there will be people eating foods selected and portioned carefully from an “eating plan” or diet – sometimes for specific & serious medical reasons and others for the vague objectives of “being healthier”. They may even have one of those “prepared by a chef and nutritionist’ type meals from Jenny or Lite & Easy so they don’t even have to think about purchasing or preparing food. There will be others eating take-aways or pies, often with an embarrassed excuse for eating bad, or receiving glares of disapproval from the more enlightened eaters.
How could you even begin to plan a staff lunch or prepare a dinner party for these people in your own home???
All this healthy eating and fad dieting has created million dollar empires and wealthy gurus who spread their ‘truths’ to the vulnerable masses who fear disease and the mirror equally. Gyms are popping up on every corner so that exercise can be done at our convenience under the guidance of toned trainers whose core mission is to keep us locked into some form of payment plan. Supermarket aisles are full of low-fat, sugar-free, high protein, low carb, Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins meal replacements and supplements. Then there are the nut free, wheat free, meat free foods that just complicate things further.
…and the dinner party got lost as designing a menus that catered for all the current fads required a nutritionist, a chef and an a la carte menu to cater for your guests dietary requirements – it’s all too hard…..
Bring back the dinner party with its 3 courses of rich, decadent treats and the convivial atmosphere that such (occasional) indulgence produces.
Bring back the dinner guest who was game to try anything.
Let every hostess loudly (and proudly) proclaim …MY KITCHEN RULES