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       If you’re like me, you start to panic as soon as the words “come to dinner,” escape your lips. Your palms begin to sweat. Your mind is in a whirl. And the prospect of an enjoyable evening with friends at home is nowhere in the picture.

            This affliction is not restricted to brides or to others who are clueless in the kitchen. Plagued by the problem, I’ve always been alert to the admission from others who suffer from it, among them favorite food writers and professional chefs.

            Ironically, I’ve been writing about food for the last 10 years, and by taking a series of technique courses and learning from chefs have become a fairly competent improvisational cook, rather than the robotic recipe-follower I was before.

            So what causes this irrational anxiety? I believe that it isn’t just a function of culinary uncertainty (although that surely can contribute), but a form of unbridled perfectionism. As soon as the invitation is extended, I awaken to all the repair projects, cleaning jobs and decorating plans that have gone unrealized. I struggle to devise the perfect menu. There never seems to be sufficient time to make everything right.

            My theory is that this neurosis can be overcome by implementing the many techniques already recommended by relaxed party-givers and culinary professionals, among them the caterers whom I often interview as part of my work. In the next 12 months, I hope to do just that and to help myself and others similarly afflicted by reporting on my progress. I intend to move from panic at the prospect of entertaining to pleasure in the experience…and you’re invited to come along.

            Look for postings Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll be experimenting with stress-reducing party planning techniques, sharing tips from chefs and savvy home entertainers, passing along company-proven recipes, and scheduling company meals, where I hope to put what I’ve learned  to the test.

11 Comments

  • 1
    February 20, 2012 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    The blog is cool

  • 2
    Len
    September 13, 2011 - 2:54 pm | Permalink

    So well written it’s calming in itself.

    • 3
      admin
      September 13, 2011 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

      What a wonderful comment, Len. Thank you! THH

  • 4
    Lesley
    September 8, 2011 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Ah, perfectionism. Just another example of where the P-word has gotten its wily hooks into our joy. I’m eager to read your stress-reducing techniques to apply to entertaining and any other facet of my life that might be pertinent.

    I discovered one stress-reducer by accident. It’s called the “Have the Flu at Christmas” technique. A small gathering of 4 friends and family (plus a baby, but they are so non-judgmental) were coming to my place last Christmas. Problem was, I was S-I-C-K and just COULDN’T fuss. I provided the place, my honey made the food and except for a cursory dusting, the rest just was as-is. And guess what? No one ran from my house screaming, vowing to never return. A relaxed and pleasant time was had by all.

    I don’t recommend getting sick to quell your hostess-queaziness, but this experience did open me up to the fact that the setting doesn’t have to be picture-perfect, as much as we may want it to be.

    Looking forward to your twice-weekly posts! Woo hoo!

    • 5
      admin
      September 11, 2011 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Lesley,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! The P-word is so central to this subject that I’m amazed that I got through even one post without mentioning it. I love the “Have the Flu at Christmas” technique, but unfortunately you can’t use it every time. Your experience does reinforce the fact that most guests won’t judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. THH

  • 6
    STEF
    September 8, 2011 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, as I don’t so much fret about the food but do about the presentation. I am always working on getting my act together. Planning ahead would certainly help. The trouble is that most “let’s get together’s” are spontaneous my home is not. Can’t wait to read more!

    • 7
      admin
      September 11, 2011 - 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your support and your interesting observation! I’ll be talking about presentation and “being ready.” THH

  • 8
    Rita Kale
    June 24, 2011 - 5:01 am | Permalink

    Charles just told me about this and I would love to read your post. I read your comments and they described me to a “T”. I would never have imagined that you felt the same way.

    Good Luck,
    Rita

    • 9
      admin
      June 24, 2011 - 9:55 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for writing, Rita. We’re not alone. Even celebrity chefs and restauranteurs seem to suffer from this affliction.

  • 10
    Al
    June 11, 2011 - 2:01 am | Permalink

    Can’t wait for your first post. The summer is upon us and I know I will be TRYING to entertain a lot.
    Good Luck,
    THH Fan Club

    • 11
      admin
      June 11, 2011 - 2:17 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much for writing! Glad to know that there’s a need for this information. I’ve been working on the design, but will be posting new material shortly. THH

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