The terror of a dinner party

One of the motivations for moving into my own flat is so I could have people over without it feeling weird. Not that any of my previous flatmates would have minded, but I was always hyper aware that my having friends over pretty much put the living room/kitchen off limits. We have all had that moment of walking into a room in pajamas only to see your flatmate and friends gathered around a wine bottle or two.

But dinner parties are something I love, they are a shed load cheaper for people than going out to a restaurant and a lot more relaxing without the rest of London breathing down your neck. The problem has been that I am a complete newbie when it comes to cooking. I can cook a multi course feast under my Mums watchful eye (aka, she warns me when I am about to do something irreparably stupid) but on a normal day I struggle to feed myself without burnt bits, strangely runny bit and awkward flavours that never quite work. I mean I guess if I followed a recipe I might have more luck, but I don’t deal well with being told what to do…

Previously I knew that putting time in would work, the Christmas feasts take two days to prepare. But particularly in London no one has time to spend all day cooking, no one has time for anything, if I had to spend that long cooking I would never throw dinner parties. So instead I have just leapt in feet first and decided to figure it out along the way. Because SPOILER you only get comfortable cooking for other people….when you cook for other people.

I have had four dinner parties in my new flat and so far have not killed anyone (that I know of, if I have please let me know). Each time I do it I cut the time down by half (the Galentines dinner last night only took me an hour to cook and that includes cleaning the flat), I learn another little thing to make it easier and of course something goes wrong. So far over my collection of dinner parties I have learned:

  • Make the first person who arrived in charge of getting everyone else drinks as they arrive. Trying to get someone wine while the food is burning and you just got chili in your eye is less than fun.
  • Heat up your dishes (like whatever you serve the food in) before you put the food in, turns out that when you have a group of people food cools down really quickly.
  • Literally no one flatting in London has enough plates or cutlery for more than four people, people are happy to bring their own or steal from your closest friend.
  • If you keep drinking it won’t matter when all the food goes wrong

What I have learned is that even if the food does go terribly wrong people are NICE. They wont say anything because at the end of the day it is more about getting people together than perfect chef made food.  And I’m learning, each time I cook for someone else I am slightly less stressed, slightly less drunk, and enjoying it far more.

Sorry this turned into a ramble. What I meant to say was, you can’t expect to be good at something overnight and you can’t let inexperience stop you from having fun. If you want to have people over, start with paper plates and pizza and step by step work your way up.

And if anyone can tell me how to figure out how much food a group of people would eat it would be much appreciated, at the moment there is an equal chance of cooking twice the amount I need or everyone starving.

4 Comments

  1. February 14, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    I love how this was so down-to-earth and really grasped the spirit of having friends over, not somebody you want to impress etc. I really need to gather some effort and treat my friends again soon!

  2. February 15, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Omg yes to all of this. I am terrified of cooking for people, but I much prefer having people over rather than going out. So far I haven’t killed anyone or given anyone food poisoning or made any absolutely horrendous faux pas (I don’t think…) but I’m sure I will at some point. Well, not kill someone. That would be awful.

    “If you keep drinking it won’t matter when all the food goes wrong” – so true. Also, if you buy really good wine then they’ll get fixated on that and forget about the food… 😉

  3. February 21, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    Excellent advice! People get so stressed by things that are meant to be fun. Just relax and enjoy yourself.

    Thanks,
    Brian.

  4. February 27, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    You have inspired me to have my own dinner party! But I live with someone else, so I might wait for a weekend when my flatmate is away… haha