Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Eating. the Christmas party.

At work we are all notorious for our love of food. Birthdays are celebrated with lavish feasts, each person (besides the birthday girl) bringing a different dish. Sometimes we have grand lunches for no reason at all but that we deserve it. And the holidays are no exception. Christmas is drawing near, and it's time for a party, family and friends and clients gathering together. There are twinkling lights and wreaths and flickering candles and pots of flaming scarlet poinsettias and carefully arranged pyramids of perfect clementines. And then there is food. Oh, but there is food.

For Christmas parties there is always roast pig. And by roast pig I mean an entire roast pig, snout to tail and everything in-between, four legs splayed wide on the foil-covered tray, dominating the long table where the food is arranged. The flesh is moist and rich and the skin crackling and crisp; there is a pile of steamed buns on the side. The imposing roast pig is flanked by trays of Vietnamese spring rolls, a translucent rice-paper wrapper encasing shrimp and fresh basil leaves and bundles of rice noodles. Platters of crudités surrounding bowls of dip look like bright gardens; there are crackers and chips and salsas. Slices of avocado have been neatly wrapped with paper-thin rosy-pink sheets of prosciutto. Smoked salmon is rolled around balls of sushi rice; a mound of shrimp is ringed with lemon wedges.

It is impossible to know where to begin. The cheese board alone is overwhelming, huge wedges of sheep's milk and goat's milk and cow's milk cheeses, some spiked with peppers or herbs; buckets of olives and cornichons stand guard behind. Skewers of chicken satay beckon forth; later there will be miniature quiches hot from the oven and a smooth pâté, but I've no room left. Except for dessert, which is another matter entirely.

Ah, dessert. Another table, against a different wall. There is a chocolate fountain, which pours forth molten chocolate into which you can dip skewered marshmallows, biscotti, or pretzels (which are perfection, sweet and salty and crunchy all at once). In a marathon of baking late last night (involving many minor explosions that left a cloud of flour and powdered chocolate over my entire kitchen) I made many, many batches of brownies (which some people risked dipping into the chocolate fountain, with varying results). There is white chocolate cheesecake and chocolate mousse pie and freshly baked cookies piled high.

The impression is of overwhelming bounty, generosity and variety. Almost everything is homemade (with the exception of the pig, which came from Chinatown, and the quiches, which were bought frozen, and some of the cookies, which were made from store-bought dough). You could have the party catered or at some restaurant, but why would you, when you could have freshly made spring rolls and the best chocolate mousse pie you've ever tasted?

1 comment:

Juanita J. Sanchez said...

Oh my! Do you guys need a nurse? I'm willing to relocate.