notes on a fête
May 21, 2006

Compose a menu of something that is complicated and impressive, something that is so simple you can't believe it's this good, and a couple of the things your roommate and neighbor love best. A little Google searching means you can do all this and round it out with authenticity. (It helps if you've previously suggested variations on the menu to two friends.)

Invite, in equal parts, the friends you've known forever, people you only know slightly and a good sampling of someone else's friends. Make sure at least one friend will arrive early and wash the last round of dishes as you race for the shower 30 minutes before guests arrive. Bonus points if your friends bring party music.

It helps if you're still jet-lagged and wake up at 7am ready to start cooking. It also helps if your fish shop lets you in to buy shrimp even though it technically doesn't open for another hour and a half.

Always follow Joy of Cooking when it comes to cooking meat. (Also look up flank steak before going to the grocery store to find that it's frequently labeled London Broil.)

Don't forget to eat lunch. Macaroni and Cheese is a good choice. And a 5pm nap is also useful.

Frosting fixes almost anything. And what it won't, chimichurri sauce probably will.

Wear a new dress for the first time.

Light candles and try to avoid using the kitchen light.

Put your roommate in charge of killer drinks, and your guests in charge of thematic wine and beer. Don't fight the fact that, if you spend all day cooking, as soon as you stop and have a glass of wine, your brain and knees will turn to jelly whether you drink in moderation or not.

Which is why it is absolutely essential to have a roommate who is always awake and sober enough to clean up after everyone goes home and you've stumbled into bed, exhausted, giddy and satisfied.