Back in January, we spent a lovely evening at my friend Anna’s house. Twelve of us squeezed around her dining table, talking to and over each other, eating and drinking into the wee small hours. The party continued after we all left, as Anna and her husband cranked up the stereo and threw some moves, ignoring the scene of culinary devastation in the kitchen. A perfect night, all told; but what of the morning after?
‘I have the hangover from hell‘ texted Anna gingerly the next morning, ‘And there’s no food in the house because I didn’t think beyond dinner. I would KILL for carbohydrates right now.’
It was a lightbulb moment for me; so now when we go to friends for dinner I generally take a bottle of wine – and breakfast. The kind of slightly decadent, Sunday-morning breakfast that you can indulge in whilst reliving tales of the night before and revelling in your marvellous hostessery (new word, but you know what I mean..), before the realities of cleaning up and entertaining the kids with a hangover properly kick in. I find croissants (butter, almond or chocolate; all divine), really good jam and fresh bread go down a treat, and also require no attention when you hand them over; they can be set down and forgotten, then rediscovered with joy & hunger the next day.
A couple of really good friends have recently had babies, and I take a similar approach on the first visit to see them too; whilst the new arrivals tend to get showered with lovely gifts, it’s easy to forget who actually did all the hard work and is finding it hard to remember unbroken nights and the phenomenon of being able to read a book from cover to cover. For the new mums, a magazine, some simple scented flowers and a loaf of sourdough go some way to restoring peace of mind and providing the maternal equivalent of a comfort blanket;
p.s. Hot, buttered toast would be my last meal of choice. No question. Perhaps not my desert island food of choice – that would be calamari and crayfish with a chilled glass of wine as I scan the horizon looking for passing ships – but toast would be the most evocative, comforting choice. And as my last meal, I wouldn’t even have to skimp on the butter…
41 rules for how to be a great dinner party guest
..and useful tips for the host (especially ones like me who tend to have a warm-up cocktail at 7pm and only then remember to vaguely start thinking about the cooking)
and finally, for anyone feeling tortured by the gratuitous photos of carbohydrates, try the gluten-free museum