Perhaps there is sweat beaded on her forehead and a forced smile on her face as she greets you at the door. Maybe he’s sitting on the couch sheepishly drinking a beer, looking like a toddler who’s been put in a time-out. Oftentimes when you arrive at a friend’s house for dinner, something seems amiss. And if you’ve ever hosted a dinner party with your significant other, you probably know what’s causing these weird vibes—a shouting match about whether or not to reheat the Peach Upside-Down Polenta Cake was just silenced by the doorbell.
I love hosting dinner parties, but my fondness for elaborate, multicourse meals doesn’t always jibe with my husband’s taste for simplicity. When I suggest making an authentic Oaxacan mole that will take days to prepare, he says something like, “Didn’t I just buy a taco kit? Maybe we should have that.” Um, maybe not, dude!
But I saw his point of view when I read Tim Hayward’s witty Guardian Word of Mouth post about his significant other’s over-the-top culinary endeavors. Hayward describes the dessert she prepared for a recent dinner party:
[It] was a glazed tarte aux mangues with a concealed custard layer, cunningly flavoured with an evanescent breath of cinnamon. A triumph from its base, a pastry as light and crisp as dragonfly scales to the mathematically precise fans of fruit on the crown. But still. What sort of bastard would do that?
Ha! Are there any couples out there who have figured out the best way to host a dinner party without ending up at each other’s throats? Says one wise Word of Mouth commenter:
Oh no no no no–there is no such thing as planning a menu together. One decides, the other ‘helps’.
And comes back in time to open the wine.