Finders Keepers

As a food writer, I’ve always cared too much about flavor and quality to be a “Semi-Homemade” kind of hostess. I want to serve visitors something better than they have at home, not just what’s easiest. But I’m beginning to accept the idea that better doesn’t necessarily mean made by me. Packaged goods these days are so delicious, healthy, and inexpensive that often it makes more sense to buy than to make.

This truth suddenly struck me as I was interviewing caterers for an article on trends in condiments and seasonings. Even the most upscale among these culinary professionals, whom I had long respected, were purchasing some pre-prepared dips and sauces, especially ethnic concoctions that would consume excessive time and money if they were made in-house. They were highly selective, however: They taste-tested often, chose favorites, and often customized the concoctions in their own kitchens.

I like the idea of being an arbiter of taste and introducing guests to items I’ve discovered and pre-tested for them. What’s more, I can count on the taste consistency of commercial products, which is helpful in combating my entertaining insecurity.

I’ve learned that you can derive as much appreciation for choosing carefully as for cooking. The wonderful Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips I served to recent guests were instantly greeted with compliments. And I think that the people attending our dinner party last Friday enjoyed the melon and duck prosciutto hors d’oeuvre I served because it tasted good but also because my husband and I could share the story of how we sampled the meat at a farmer’s market while strolling in New York City and decided to bring it back for them.

I’ll be trying some of the products that those caterers recommended, selecting some of my own, and rating them in future posts.


  • 1
    October 4, 2011 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. Some good points you dicuss in there.

    • 2
      October 5, 2011 - 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for writing, Jahangir-khan! I hope you’ll visit again and share your own experiences. THH

  • 3
    October 3, 2011 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Duck Prosciutto?
    That’s different. I can see how that would be a conversation piece in addition to being easy to serve. Never heard of it before.
    Was it recieved well?

    • 4
      October 5, 2011 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

      I think that people enjoyed trying something new. At any rate, there wasn’t much left on the plate. THH

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *