I suddenly feel very Carrie Bradshaw sitting here at my laptop, watching the Christmas shoppers coming home, and gazing whimsically into space before typing out an Important Question.
But I’ve been thinking about Christmas and food and mulling this over for some time. What I want to know is: at what point should a daughter take responsibility for the family Christmas meal?
I’m 28 years old, I love cooking to an almost abnormal extent, and I work in the food biz. On paper, I’m a perfect candidate for Christmas hostess. However, year after year I go home and play a minor role helping my mum to get the Christmas Day shebang on the road and into people’s bellies. Much as I might offer to make a dessert, bring a ham, or take over completely, my mum refuses to pass down the mantle to me.
I wrote this in May 2008. And yes, it was the best meal of my life (so far).
A new style of dinner party is evolving and it pays little heed to received convention or etiquette. We speak to three generations of hostesses and compare what, exactly, has changed.
ACCORDING TO Red Snapper event planners, the number one dinner party faux pas is a lack of time management. ‘Be as prepared as possible,’ it says. ‘Do as many of the kitchen preparations beforehand, leaving you free to socialise.’
Becky Convey knows this. Nevertheless, when we arrive at her North London home at 2pm on a wet Sunday afternoon, the 33 year-old hostess is standing in her partially-renovated kitchen in a flowery blue apron, still rolling homemade pasta through her pasta machine. “I will of course offer the guests a drink when they arrive,” she yells to her husband Giles, as he shows us through to the lounge area, “but they couldn’t possibly have arrived yet, ’cause I’m not ready for them!”
I have been invited by these friends as an honorary guest to this, their second ‘GMC’ – aka ‘Greedy Middle Class’ – dinner party. The theme – there is always a theme – is socially conscious food, so the emphasis is on ethically sound, British ingredients. Each guest has brought a dish, making this feast an eight-course, £350 and, as it turns out, six-hour eating extravaganza.