10 dinner parties to make you rethink eating as a group.
You may think dinner parties are things that only happened in eighties movies but you would be wrong. Last week, I overheard a woman with a three week old baby planning a dinner party for the following weekend. That’s some serious dedication to the form and we’ve all got some catching up to do.
Plus, of course, there are few things quite as glorious as sitting around a table with good friends, eating good food and drinking good wine and having those wonderful “Never Want This To End” moments. There should be more of those, so try to squeeze a couple of these dinner parties in before the end of your summer.
The Forager Dinner Party
There’s food growing all over that mystical environment place ready for the taking and completely free of charge. So use it. If you know there is a ready stash of forageable food nearby, pick three or four things, such as sorrel, nettles, berries and mushrooms, and base your dishes around them. If you’re feeling brave, ask your guests to bring something they found on the way over to yours and cook on the fly.
Locavore Dinner Party
Make your house the epicenter of your foodie world by only buying produce from within a 100 mile radius to whip up delicious dinner treats for your buddies. You know the drill: farmers markets, veg boxes, co-ops, home grown and so on. Really this is just your standard cooking with slightly altered shopping habits, except we’re all very right on round here so probably the shopping habits aren’t even changed that much. So, uh, file under Totally Normal Dinner Party.
The Family-Style Eating Dinner Party
You can do this one of two ways. Either make everyone eat food cooked for slightly too long in a pressure cooker while a middle aged Jewish woman shouts at you for not doing your homework. Or dish up huge bowls of hearty salads and platters of meats and cheeses, or serve a heavy, heady stew in a huge enamel pot, and let everyone dig in. Slabs of crusty bread are crucial, regardless of the main dish you serve. Tear it apart with your hands and share the chunks all around.
The Austerity Dinner Party
It’s tough times all round, so who can afford to throw a full-on swanky dinner party? More to the point, who can be bothered cooking when there’s gin to be drinking? Cheap c’est chic! Go all out with lentils, pulses, rices and root veg. You can do incredible things with red lentils, butternut squash, kale and garam masala, and a French onion soup with homemade bread is basically the best thing humans have ever invented. Ever. Except for maybe gin.
The State of the Nation Dinner Party
See above, except 1% of your guests eat foie gras while wearing top hats and tails and laughing a very tight laugh.
The Craparet Dinner Party
You know that thing where you watch an amazing show, like the circus where unfeasibly sexy and bendy people make you feel inadequate, or a friend gives you tickets to something and it turns out to be these guys, or this, and that inadequacy conspires with inspiration and you vow to become the best goddam drum-playing trapeze artist the world has ever seen. EVER! Except you don’t, of course, you remain slightly adept at a marginal skill. Accept that you will never perform in the cabaret of your dreams and instead join the craparet.
Ask each dinner party guest to perform a short act in the spirit of crap entertainment; a shoddy magic trick perhaps, or a half-baked burlesque routine. A song sung out of key. Feed your guests backstreet cabaret fare: little triangle sandwiches or burgers, fish cakes, spring rolls, cocktail sausages, bowls of nuts, olives or pretzels, and considerably sized buckets of red wine.
The Independence Day Party
Over here in Brit-land we don’t do Independence Day because we basically invented the whole world. But on any given month, there is a country somewhere in the world having their own Independence Day celebration. Do it like they do in Finland, Jamaica or Mexico, and if things get really bad with the economy, use your new found cultural know-how to declare your house an independent state.
The Food Crawl Dinner Party
Why lumber one person with all the hard work? Allot starter, main and dessert to a different guest and travel from house to house in between courses, exploring each households take on a theme: vegan, vegetarian, conscious meaties, local, or just delicious food and booze.
The Republican Party
Come as yourself, but take on a particular belief, policy or idiosyncrasy from the never ending pool of bizzaro-juice that is the Republican Party. Confuse consent and non-consent. Confuse North and South Korea. Insist the person sitting on your right spends the evening carrying a fetus to term.
After dinner (Republican dinner? It doesn’t matter, as long as the women cook), guess what everyone else was acting out. The winner gets to act/not act on a matter that is none of their business/desperately urgent.
The What Curiosity Found Dinner Party
Or What Curiosity found. Either/or. Present your findings once you’ve eaten. Powerpoint and pointy lasers welcome. After-dinner speakers are the absolute bee’s knees. Yes they are!