breaking point
November 11, 2006

There's a point (with varying degrees of intensity) in the preparation of almost any party or dinner where the cook just wants to give up. Nothing is working, this is a terrible idea, I hate people, I hate food, I hate my kitchen, I want to go back to bed.

Rebecca and I hit this point about an hour before the guests show up at her apartment. I'm making a novice attempt at rolling grape leaves and she's trying to get a worn out blender to puree white beans and sun-dried tomatoes. She wants to be in the shower and I just wish I could collapse on the sofa. While I'm considering what rubber bands would taste like simmered in broth and olive oil, Rebecca is impatiently jamming a wooden fork into her blender to move the clumps of tomatoes toward the blade, which isn't pulling anything down.

Then there's a thud and Rebecca lets out something between a scream and a groan. The blender blade—which has been useless for its intended purpose—has snapped one of the wooden fork tines, which is now lost in the lumpy hummus. It's not exactly a needle in a haystack, but we're not sure how many splintered pieces we need to fish out, and everything is roughly the same color. I suspect Rebecca's about to throw the whole thing—dip and all—into the trash can, so I rinse the grape leaf oil off my hands and start fishing around for splinters. I get the tine out in one piece, but we decide not to mention it to the guests.

Things start to look up after this. The grape leaves, most of them, are welded together by another half hour of sauteing, and I eat up the ones that don't with a spoon (they're good). Rebecca gets her shower and we have candles lit and food set out and photos taken by 8 p.m. (No one arrives, of course, until well after.) The party is a hit: The grape leaves are devoured and no one complains of splintered hummus. We decide that currants make a Greek dessert out of Monster Cookies, and I eat so many I can barely move.

But I spot the blender in Rebecca's trash can on the way out.