Updated: Dec 31, 2022
I was getting my house ready for some friends to come over for dinner. I'd waited until about 2 hours before they came to begin prepping. I was making a huge family styled grilled meal with chermula, steak, veggies, pita and rich grilled guacamole. No table set, nothing made ahead, I knew I could cook and chat with them while I prepared.
About an hour before they arrived I realized my desk was not perfectly straight, the floor could probably have used a vacuum and I had toothpaste still in the sink. Suddenly, I said to myself, I said, "self" (that is what I call myself), "these friends love me like blood kin and came to see me, not my house"! "They love me even if I have toothpaste spots in the sink". The sheltering of the Coronavirus made me realize it's my "toothpaste-in-the-sink friends" I really want to entertain. Not the people who will come, eat and never have me back, or if I died today would say, "oh he was nice, how sad, now, what's on TV?".
Why was this such an epiphany for me? For decades I've tried to make sure all was in its place. The lighting was perfect, not a thing out of place, table set and my food to appear as if it came together effortlessly. I would entertain masses of guests at a time and spend the entire day getting ready. You can't really get to know, I mean really know someone, in a group of 20 people. What did that get me? Exhaustion and stress! And why? I guess I felt if things were perfect enough people would love me. Years ago a friend said, "I didn't' come to see the house, I came to see you", when I asked forgiveness for the mess my boys had made.
I say all of this to say if you like to cook and entertain, do it for your closet friends, the people who really care about you and you them. Do it because you want to. Do it because you love to feed people and love beautiful things. I've found in the past few years that the focus of my life needs to be the handful of closest friends and my family. Those are the people with whom to exert your energy. That is the way to a beautiful life of cooking and entertaining.
And yes... I still wiped the toothpaste out of the sink anyway.