Second part of yesterday’s posting (too long for a single one):
It seems that the formal dinner is on life support. No one is setting out different wine glasses or (horror!) seating interesting strangers next to one another if they have special things in common. Entertaining is now informal, from a buffet to a casual get-together.
Guests expect to be fed within two hours of arrival, max. If you work slowly in the kitchen, factor that in.
There are people (OK, men; men of a certain age) who treat the unveiling of a buffet like the race for the last helicopter out of Saigon. Or, at the table, start lobbying for seconds while the host is eating. Hold back.
Forgoing music is not an option. But don’t play music that is too intrusive.
(This is exactly what the writer wrote:
Few of us these days have the money or space to maintain the dinner party basics, such as endless dining chairs or matching cutlery. The modern dinner party is all about mucking in, to the extent that, if numbers nudge above six, everyone accepts that someone will end up sitting on a camp chair. It would be churlish to complain. The lack of ceremony is a release. Get the kitchen paper roll on the table. The age of the napkin (ring) is over.
When dining communally, remember: generally, people are not infectious. If someone passes you a piece of bread rather than the plate, if someone manhandles the cheese, remain calm.
It is 2018, moderate at-table phone use is expected. ( Really? Ed.) Two things, though. Repeatedly corralling the room into photos for social media is tedious and intrusive. As is Instagramming the host’s food.
Zen and the Art of Dishwasher Maintenance
Don’t start a) tidying things into bin bags while the party is in full swing, b) washing up, or c) putting crockery back in the wrong cupboards.
Ordinarily, if an invite is for 2pm on a Sunday, the host expects their house back by 8pm. On Saturday night, if your host is bathing the kids, tiidying the kitchen or asleep on the sofa, ik the hint. Forget “one for the road” and scarper.
Thank your host as you leave and next morning by text. They deserve it. Do not comment on kitchen disasters until the host is ready for the inquest.
In nature, there are hosts and there are people who, for various reasons, would never dream of cooking for you. Do not dwell on it, much less demand a reciprocal date. Feeding people should be an honest act of generosity. Otherwise, it leaves a bad taste. (This article has been edited to cut out egregious chatter. The name of the writer has been, thank goodness, lost).
My wife and I pride ourselves on trying to give guests as elegant evening as possible. I am aghast that such advice is even thought necessary. Long live the 12 piece dinner service, the napkin rings, the candles and attentive hosts! Alas, they will disappear with us and parties will be catered for the socially clueless, dressed in trainers and T-shirts. The old way of entertaining was not a matter of being one-up – it was a matter of giving the guests good food, well served, in an elegant, even uplifting, way, accompanied by interesting conversation. It was a matter of respect for the guests. Oh, well. we can’t go back now.