Friday, May 22, 2009

What Can I Bring?

Whenever we are invited to someone’s home to share a meal or we invite someone to a meal at ours, the question “What can I bring” is always asked. When guests arrive and inevitably gather in our kitchen, the next question is “what can I do to help?” This is not just etiquette. Moreover, it is about sharing in the preparation of a meal which every culture on Earth has practiced since man learned how to apply fire to food.

Stacy and I hosted a party for six of our friends that was planned to be our first barbeque of the season. As the weekend drew nearer, it became clear that we would receive much needed rain on the day we planned our party. Undaunted, we continued with our plan to share a meal with our friends by moving the cooking and eating indoors. I designed the menu to answer the question, “What can I bring”, by breaking the meal into four courses where each course includes items that may be prepared ahead and then finished just before service. As our friends predictably asked I made assignments based both on what was volunteered, or recommended by me. I also included recipes for items that I suggested.

Menu and Assignments

Shrimp and cheesy grits with bacon (Tony and Leslie)
Oysters on the half shell with Hog Wash and cocktail sauce (John)

Green salad with vinaigrette (Jim and Kristin)

Roasted Moroccan Style Boneless Chicken Breast (Me; would barbeque in better weather)
The Canal House Macaroni and Cheese (Mark and Kyla)

Pound Cake (Jim and Kristin)
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (John)
Dirty Girl Strawberries (Stacy)

By taking our friends up on the offer to bring something we all prepared the meal together, without making it a potluck. Also, since each couple owned at least one dish they become integrated into the production of the meal with a keen sense of ownership of having a successful outcome. It also gave us the opportunity to work together on a common goal which is fun and satisfying at the same time. I believe it strengthens our bonds of friendship each time we do this. We also facilitate friendships between our friends so that we build a community of friends. It’s all good.

Stacy and John Murphy host an instructional, nutritious, and fun hands-on cooking class one or two Saturdays each month using ingredients that come fresh from the San Francisco Farmer’s Market.

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