There’s something about the LCBO magazine that makes me want to blow the dust off the dining table and rummage through the linen closet for that one stain-free tablecloth. I had picked up a publication during the holiday season to inspire some festive entertaining, but didn’t have time to read it. With the holidays over, it magically appeared from under a stack of grocery flyers.
Finally, I treated myself to the glossy pages of subliminal indulgence. Even the ads for fine liquor and wines are inspiring. An immaculate setting with matching dishes, glass-topped tables, and pristine carpet. No dust or dog hair in sight. Remarkable.
Throughout the magazine, sequinned hosts are serving fashionably dressed guests. But seriously, does anyone dress up anymore? I mean, have you ever been anywhere – a New Years Eve party or even a funeral − where there was not at least one person attired in jeans and quite probably a t-shirt? That’s another column for another time.
I make the exhausting effort but it’s always the old ‘what will I wear’ drain. It’s gruelling shopping for a new outfit, or looking for accessories to dress up the old outfit – the one people recognize no matter how I accessorize. My trick is to draw the eye away from last year’s dress with a pair of dazzling shoes. That’s all people will notice...that and thick ankles.
Fashion aside, as I flip through the Food & Drink edition, my mind churns with party ideas. I could prepare a tray of cocktails garnished with edible wild hibiscus flowers (a little tip from the mag). Everyone would ooh and ahh over my creativity and presentation.
Hah! I’m kidding. Every second person would say, make mine a beer, and the others would ask for wine, or worse yet, I’d be flying back and forth mixing drinks – a different request from each guest. The fancy cocktails would remain on the tray in a puddle of condensation. Smoke would be curling out of my ears – and the oven.
There’s certainly a knack to entertaining and the articles make it all seem doable. The recipes and accompanying pictures are mouth-watering. They even make halibut burritos sound and look inviting. Apparently, they are even tastier when served with Patron Silver Tequila at $79.95 a bottle. Who would have thought? Even so, just the word burrito gives me heartburn. Come to think of it, so does tequila.
In this issue, the gourmet marshmallows sounded like an awesome treat until I imagined the guests with bulging cheeks and sticky fingers reaching for a glass of champagne. There’s something so totally wrong with that picture. But then, perhaps the marshmallows are not roasted. I’ll have to check the recipe a bit closer.
It’s not like I’ve never held a memorable party. I remember the gourmet hotdogs. Ballpark franks, foot longs, red hots.... Some of the buns opened from the side, others from the top. The selection was endless.
The condiments were all homemade − that was the gourmet part − and I listed the ingredients with magic marker on the paper tablecloth beside each dish. I served trays of appetizers − actually clear plastic glasses with ranch dressing in the bottom, and carrots, peppers, and celery sticking out of them. I filled paper lunch bags with popcorn. To alleviate sneaky swapping, a guest’s name was on each bag. Magic marker, again.
Of course, I saved the best for last. Tubs of ice cream, bowls of cut up fruit, whole bananas, dishes of nuts, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, whipped cream, and last but not least, caramel and chocolate syrups. All circled by an assortment of dishes perfect for sundaes, banana splits, and ice cream floats. Let’s not forget the root beer. The odd scuffle broke out as partiers elbowed their way to the table. That ended as each person scooped, dipped, and sprinkled.
I set aside the magazine with the realization that I didn’t need advice on how to throw a good party. I may not have dressed in sequins, and most of my guests were in jeans, but we had a great time. No-fuss appetizers, a few beers, some hot dogs (gourmet), and an old-fashioned dessert.
The magazine was inspirational though. I’m having a party and you’re invited. As soon as I set the date, I’ll let you know.