The dinner party

We have friends coming round for dinner tomorrow night. Which means we have to cook for them. And apparently we have to do three courses, all of which have to “flow”. Please. Who wrote the dinner party rule book anyway? The last time I checked the only rule was “don’t poison anybody”.

We started having the discussion about what to cook when we first made the invitation, last Monday. It’s pretty much all we’ve talked about since then. And when I say “we”, obviously I haven’t been doing it. I’ve been talked at mostly. But now I find myself on a date with Tesco and desperately hoping I find inspiration for a dish (yes, I have to do one) that is “English”, won’t cost the earth, and that flows with the other courses, none of which have been confirmed yet.

My current thinking is pea and ham soup, which, frankly, flows quite well when you pour it. Pea and ham both seem to be quite English foods, and it’s probably very reasonably priced. I think I’ll plump for that. If I’ve been murdered in the next 24 hours I think it will be very obvious to work out who it was and why.

Maybe I should put more thought into it. I’ll search for Delia’s recipe for pea and ham soup and make it myself. There’s normally some sort of offer on ham, and peas are quite cheap. Maybe I’ll get some sugar too in case I have to sweeten it to become the dessert course. But which sugar? What would Delia say? Has anyone ever done a pea and ham soup for dessert?

They must have. There’ll be a forum out there for it somewhere. And maybe they’ll be one for ways to avoid getting murdered. And ways to get out of your own dinner party. Is life really supposed to be this difficult?!


You can’t choose cucumber!

I got into quite a heated discussion with my flatmates recently (heated on their side, obvs) about a relatively simple topic: if you could only eat five foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Now, living with a couple of women of a certain age and penchant for health and spirituality, they made careful calculations as to ensure they got very balanced diets, including all necessary vitamins and food groups. And this went on. Before I knew it, they were making tactical substitutions, researching availability and comparative potassium levels of different foods. All the while, I sat back, observing the madness. A wry grin appeared on my face. Error.


I could feel their stares boring through my glossy exterior, and I was compelled to join in. Now, as quite a simple man, I felt perfectly able to respond with a succinct, honest answer. Burgers, bread, cheese, chocolate (and for the sake of having something vaguely healthy and balanced, given present company), cucumber.” Little did I know when answering that the cucumber would tip them over the edge.

So, I got a lecture on the relative nutritional value of cucumber, and how, actually, it was “nothing”. They spouted facts about it being 90% water, low in fibre, yuddah, yuddah, yuddah. I started to wonder if I’d actually died and was being judged at the gates of Heaven on my food choices. Was this real? Were we really, seriously discussing this ice-breaker conversation as though our very existence depended on it? Would we wake up tomorrow and find that only our five declared foods would be in the fridge waiting for us? Or would we not have a fridge? Maybe the food wouldn’t be there either, and we would have to hunt and gather it ourselves like some sort of stone-age troglodytes?

Snap. Back in the room. I think they’d been talking for a while, so I suggested broccoli as a peace offering. It seemed to work. They giggled, and I thought I had escaped. Then they suggested whether I would want mayonnaise to go with my burger, as they knew I liked it. Here we go again. I quickly explained how I simply must have my broccoli to balance the diet, couldn’t possibly live without chocolate, and then I just ran for the glowing sanity of the hallway and shut the door behind me.

Thankfully, the next day, the fridge was still there. I went and bought a cucumber to celebrate.