Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sibling Dinner - Post-view

One good thing about F's family is that they are friendly and low maintenance. They come in, they drink some wine, they eat, they talk and they eventually leave. There's not any big song and dance necessary. They don't pick and criticize. They don't have amazingly difficult food restrictions. They're just folks.

Ton, Vera, Matthy and Chiquita (yes, we have a Chiquita in the family, and she's 100% Dutch) arrived early. They'd been to the zoo and they were probably ready to sit down. I had arrived home about twenty minutes before they did.

They spent the first hour or so having wine and talking about something. I was in the kitchen for most of the time getting the main course ready. (Chicken smeared with mustard wrapped in ham - salt and pepper the inside and then throw some oil on before you throw it in the oven at 190 c for half an hour.)

F thinks that he's all prepared for the guest to arrive when he's shopped and has the groceries attractively arranged on the counter. I'm from the school of thought that one should chop and assemble as much as possible before the guests arrive so there is as little time spent in the kitchen as possible.

That said, I was happy to stand in the kitchen wrapping impossibly thin ham around chicken breasts as it kept me from having to sit with them and listen to rapid-fire Dutch. When I was finished, F announced that it was my turn to sit in the living room and make conversation while he prepared the appitizer - again from scratch.

Sitting with them wasn't that difficult. They talked to each other and asked me a few questions. The thing with all of us is that they really like me and I really like them, but we don't speak the same language - and now I'm speaking metaphorically.

It was about 9:30 when I looked around the table and thought, You guys have to drive all the way back to...[wherever they live]...shouldn't you be going? But they were on "vacation" and they could stay out late. Hmmm...I have to work on weekdays.

Vera thought that I had used red pepper on the potatoes. I was actually following the Grant Walker rule for black pepper - if you can still see the food, there's not enough pepper. And I overdid it. I have a little history of screwing up something when Ton and Vera eat here. My first meal with them, I cooked salmon. I found out a week later that Ton hates hot fish, but he ate it. (Not really a screw up, just a bad memory for him about my cooking.) Even last night, F put mussels in the appetizer. Both Ton and Matthy got all "uhm, I don't eat mussels." So whatever.

It's just one of those situations where I want everything to be perfect and something went wrong. Then they were talking and I was following along a little. I couldn't understanding everying, but I was enjoying their laughter and I understood a little. Then Chiquita said, in Dutch, "He doesn't know who we're talking about." And yet I was laughing. Lady, this evening was difficult enough as it was. Don't make me feel like an idiot.

They finally left. I was exhausted. The chicken was very nice. I think that'll be my new thing - wrapping ham around fish and chicken after stuffing with pesto or sundried tomatoes. F is totally into it. We had a white fish the other day that I'd done that to, and it was really good. Jamie Oliver's cookbooks are really great. I recommend.

And Chiquita really isn't a bitch. She's just a little clumbsy and probably as nervous as me.

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