Mary asks Michelle for advice on making a reunion dinner:
I’m having a dinner party at my home for 12 high school friends I have not seen in 10 years, and I don’t know how much money I’m expected to spend on dinner. Can you give me any advice?
Silver Springs Maryland, USA
Dear Mary from Maryland,
Preparing dinner for old friends is not about money, it’s about love. It’s interesting that your party will be taking place not far from where I live in Washington D.C. I just might surprise you and show up!
Now, guidelines about that dinner. I conferred with the White House chef, and I’m forwarding his suggestions, along with my own comments.
First, if you have any nose-pickers in the house, as I do with Barack (or some coming in, as we do with Hillary Clinton), I suggest making bottles of Purell available as people enter, prior to any handshaking, so as not spoil anyone’s appetite.
Now, I can imagine three scenarios:
The first scenario is me dropping drop in at your place for dinner that night. In that event, I recommend beginning with an aperitif, and small appetizers served with cocktails. When everyone is seated for dinner, begin with an appetizer course. There may be several appetizer courses, including hot and cold appetizers, usually followed by a neutral palate cleanser to prepare the tongue for the next course. A salad course is served after the meal, because this is believed to aid the digestion. At any point a servants show any sign of tiring, fire their ass and make the next servant behind them take their place. (Don’t worry about replacing help — there’s a depression on.) Next, I suggest offered a choice of thick or clear soup with the soup course, before a break is taken to consume sorbet or a similar palate cleanser. There are sometimes several main courses served in a dinner such as the one you are preparing for me – I mean, your party. Fish is usually served on its own, before the meat courses, and guests may be offered poultry, beef, or lamb as that main meat course. You might even offer a separate vegetable course, which can act a palate cleansers, to relieve the weightiness of the flesh courses. Speaking of cleansers, I would now pass around the Purell, because at this point, someone’s husband, like mine, would have unabashedly driven his finger in his nose all the way up to its proximal inter-phalangeal joint, and some sterilizing might be necessary so as as not to put a damper on anyone’s appetite. Now, a formal dinner would be complete without dessert. Dessert choices might include a cheese plate, a fruit plate, crème brulee, or a cake course. Desserts should be elaborately arranged, and be decorated with edible flowers, chocolate sculptures, and other edible ornamental accents. After dessert, liquors such as brandy and fortified dessert wines should be offered, to signal to guests that the meal is over. But I usually just tell people to ‘get the #%&$@ out of my house.’ Don’t forget, wine should be carefully chosen to complement the foods being served at each course.
The second scenario I imagine is if I am not coming. In that case, why not make life easy and toss some steaks on the barbeque, make a terrific salad and serve with a nice wine. Desert should be something that will evoke fond memories of your days in school together.
The third scenario is that I am coming, but I am paying for dinner. Don’t fret, my staff will deal with all press releases and media coverage, and cameras will follow me to Kentucky Fried Chicken, where I will take advantage of KFC’s terrific 2-for-1 deal they have going on their delightful ‘Hot Wings’ buckets. (I even found an online for free slaw and mashed potatoes.) As you know Mary, I have striven to make the nation aware of the perils of overeating. So in that spirit, we’ll keep portions small under ‘scenario three.’ And let me know if you have any food stamps we can use.
So keep on strivening, Mary from Maryland (where ever that is) – make that party happen!