The Dinner Party

Shauna Neiquist talks a lot about food in her books and how food brings people together. She talks about it A LOT and I  find that I often become impatient with the prose and want  to scream I KNOW I GET IT to the lines up on lines of neat black and white type. However, she's right.  There's something magical and profound about having a dinner party, especially one that's littered with imperfections.

On New Year's Eve, Louis and I threw a semi-spontaneous dinner party for a bunch of random, misfitting friends that ended up complimenting each other perfectly. It started on a wet and windy afternoon in Bristol where the weary travellers were taken upstairs to the sitting room of Chapel House. Awaiting them was a large Christmas tree, a roaring fire, numerous slouchy and cosy sitting options, copious amounts of tea and lots of yummy cake. Here we sat and connected and re-connected. Conversation flowed as freely ast eh hot brown brew and faces were glowing from the light of the fire and the comfort of the proceeding.

Then the cooking began with a last minute change of ingredients (Sainsbury's had run out of Trout) Two cooking goddesses met each other for the first time, donned their evening wear and rustled up a beautiful array of colourful dishes, displaying an incredible act of teamwork and ability to stir in heels.

As the others got dressed for dinner, I became in charge of atmosphere. I grabbed some foliage from the Clifton florist to dress the table, stuck candles in milk bottles, ramekins and leftover jam-jars, then gathered any dried flowers I could find and placed them in the empty fire place. With the decorations finished Fiona and I scrambled around for any dainty glasses or teacups we could find for wine and champagne and placed the starters on the sewing table by the door, then made the chalkboard in the hallway festive.
New Years Eve Collage

Then it began. My first ever dinner party, people gathered around a table covered with an old curtain, a couple of twigs and some mismatching plates. They dipped their freshly baked bread in olive oil and salt and ate homemade cheese straws to accompany the wine in their teacups. Soon the table started to fill up with stuffed trout, wild rice risotto, warm bean salad and a chopping board full of lemons. Pudding saw the fish and rice replaced by sweet potato pie, vanilla cheesecake and flour-less chocolate cake. Their was laughter and joy and serious conversations and silly conversations and compliments on the food and the house. We ate and ate until we couldn't move, then crashed upstairs in the sitting room listening to folk music and eating Laura's homemade truffles.

Despite the mixture of friendship groups and personalities, it flet like a group of old friends that sat round that fire writing resolutions for each other. It felt like a family that walked the uphill climb to stand huddles on the suspension bridge clasping bottles of champagne and Wilkinson's party poppers to greet in the New Year. It was a family that squealed with wide-eyed delight at the fireworks and chinese lanterns that popped and floated across the Bristol skyline. It was a family that skipped back to the cosy house, to throw on pyjamas  wrap our hands around mugs of tea and settle down to watch Notting Hill and fall asleep.

People need to be fed, appreciated, listened to and have the chance to connect with others. A small humble dinner party can accomodate all these things: it brings us together and creates a shared experience that can be recollected for years to come. I'm so glad I spent my New Year's Eve with friends around a dinner table and huddles on a bridge. It was magical and cosy, fun and fulfilling and possibly my best New Year's Eve to date.

1 comment :

  1. It was so amazing, and now it glows in your prose. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!