An entertaining eyesore, I guess about sums up how I feel about my ability to entertain people in my home. Truthfully cooking and presenting food is definitely not my forte and most of the time I laugh it off and tell people “Well, we can’t be good everything, can we?” I think that often I’m trying harder to justify it more to myself by meditating on my obvious strengths, and somewhat appeasing my worth, in the knowledge that others who can cook, may not be able to do the things that I do well.
Knowing that I can whip someone’s accounting books into shape at the blink of an eye and that I am an organisation guru, who can also build a set of shelves, strip a piece of furniture and haul a wheelbarrow full of rocks usually appeases my lack of ability or desire to have dinner guests. In times when I have had to entertain, my suggestion has always been a BBQ at my sisters, whose plate presentation, matching crockery, cutlery, glasses and serving platters matched her graciousness to allow me to let her entertain my guests.
My sister, can definitely cook and she also functions under the weight of perfectionism, which is both a blessing and a curse for her, but it’s a win for me in this case, as I could never present a plate the way that she does and so, I am always in awe of remarkable presentation.
For the most part of life I have been comfortable with the fact that cooking just isn’t one of my strengths, but my recent move, has indicated to me that perhaps I am not as comfortable as I once thought. Pretty rotten timing for me to feel all domesticated since I no longer have my fall back gal, who I know, will now laugh and say to me “This is all your own fault and that’s what you get for moving away from me”.
But the reason for my change of heart, is because we have wonderful friends here, who not only happen to be exceptional cooks but who have already had us over for dinner multiple times and I have yet to return the favour. I truly do want to be able to bless them with a meal, but I also want it to not only be edible, but also look good on their plates. I remember Joyce Meyer, preaching a message about having people over for lunch after church, where a simple BBQ of say sausages in bread, turned into marinated steaks, and ended with her thinking she had to paint the deck and clean down all the outdoor setting. Oh how I relate to this message!
This is an example of my thoughts “if we do have people over, I will obviously need to buy new tea towels, oh and matching glasses, because look at them they are all mismatched and those plastic containers, How old are they? They are all gross and stained from left over spaghetti bolognese, I can’t have that, what if our guests just happen to see them? And ugh, don’t even get me started on the baking pans”.
Even though I can shake my head and wonder how it is that we allow ourselves to get so complicated, I know that I am not the only one who still continues to feel this way. In truth, I know that it should not be about how fancy the table is, or whether my dessert consists of ice cream with ice magic or whether I serve up a croquembouche; the meaning of getting together should be about fellowshipping, hanging out and doing life together. I’m sure that my friends would be happy just to be invited, and the longer that I leave this the ruder, I am appearing…..but, and here comes the but, it still hasn’t changed the fact that I still feel rattled about wanting to be able to feed them something nice, at my matching dinner table.
A few years ago, a young girl gave me three new cookbooks as a random gift. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas and so initially I was baffled because everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have any desire or time to bake. Yet this gift of cookbooks titled “Four” that only featured recipes consisting of four ingredients, had made me wonder if perhaps God was nudging me, to take the plunge and invite people into our home. However, given my lack of desire and experience, I pushed that thought aside very quickly and placed them up in the cupboard along side my trusty old year 10 textbook “Cookery the Australian way”. Yes, further proof that I don’t have a vast range of cooking experience, since I have never felt the need to update.
This week has seen me seek out those three books, still in immaculate condition, in the desperate attempt to find something easy enough, yet good enough to take the plunge and have my friends over. But that only led me to another myriad of questions set to baffle my inexperienced entertaining mind.
“How do you know what people like and don’t like? Oh gosh, here we go again with the complications! What if I find a recipe and then do a practice run, only to finally invite my friends over and they hate the ingredients? How does everyone else manage when they have people around? They have a BBQ! It’s not the right weather for a BBQ. Oh the pressure! It’s no wonder that I have procrastinated for so long, UGH, how simple if they needed their BAS done, and then I could bless them over a mudcake”.
The whole conversation with myself had left me completely deflated, why bother talking to myself? I clearly, didn’t have the answers or the experience. Yet, still the dilemma remained, I truly wanted to do this for my friends, and so I discarded the cookbooks and gave myself a pep talk. I began to build myself up with the few and far between, more elaborate meals that I had prepared for my family over the years. And one of them stuck out as a possibility, a slight glimmer of hope that I could perhaps practice on my elder children when they came to visit on the weekend.
It wasn’t going to be as grand an affair as I had envisioned, but still it was a challenge to myself, a starting point and that’s better than where I had been all week. It was going to push me out of my comfort zone and get me thinking about table settings, serving timings and it was an opportunity to practice.
This meal, for me is about being brave enough to try, so that we can enjoy the company and laughter of our friends. I will just have to accept that at this stage it’s never going to be croquembouche, but I know that it’s not going to be ice cream with ice magic either and of course there will be matching glasses and new tea towels.
Watch this space for the trial updates .