Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Dinner Party

Where once having guests for dinner was a carefully orchestrated affair, now such an occasion is like having an accident - it is unplanned, does not require much effort in order to happen and one is relaxed and calm leading up to the unsuspected event. Last week I made some heavenly rillettes and  French onion soup, so when I chanced upon some friends shopping, an invitation to share our food was offered and accepted. Flowers were already sitting on the dining room table, napkins, place mats and cutlery were quickly arranged, the fire was lit, the wine selected and excellent company was enjoyed. No fuss on my part and no expectations on behalf of my guests. A perfect combination for a hostess who is prone to suffer angst over small details. As a consequence of my relaxed approach to entertaining,  the dinner  invitations which we receive, tend to be of a similar ilk. 
Last night was an exception. The Husband and I attended a carefully planned dinner party to celebrate a friend's milestone birthday. I'm always reticent at formal affairs when I don't know fellow guests, but my anxieties were quickly quelled by our charming hostess who provided the perfect combination of food, wine, atmosphere and interesting guests, that included francophiles, speakers of perfect French, (it definitely wasn't the time to showcase my basic French language skills), a professional photographer, a writer of novels, an owner of chickens, a couple who had also purchased a house in France over the Internet, and some engineers who fuelled an interesting discussion about alternative energy sources - delightful, unpretentious guests who appeared to have in common, an interest in the "Good Life". The conversations were passionate and  flowed easily all evening. New friends were made.......I was in social heaven. 
By this morning, the enchantment of the evening had dissipated when I woke with a champagne headache after only 2 glasses - a mid-life curse - and the realisation that I should reciprocate  with a similar dinner invitation. Perfectionist overload.......fear of failure.......2 aspirins taken. Time for a soak in the bath and some reflection..........
Champagne bottle photograph courtsey of The Daily Green, and the photograph of the onions courtsey of Wikepedia.