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Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Feature -

So, hav­ing es­tab­lished that you are in­deed tak­ing up the kind in­vi­ta­tion, it’s in­cum­bent on you to share with your host if you have is­sues with food, and I’m not just talk­ing about ‘I’m not mad about an­chovies’ or ‘I don’t much like cu­cum­ber in my Hen­dricks.’ I’m talk­ing about food in­tol­er­ances, not eat­ing meat or be­ing a die-hard pesc­etar­ian or ve­gan. I don’t know how guests ex­pect their hosts to be mind read­ers but it’s not kosher to just turn up on the night and an­nounce you have food is­sues.

I still vividly re­mem­ber an early din­ner party fiasco where I spent hours stuff­ing pork steak with fancy spinach, served with an ar­ray of ex­otic veg­eta­bles and it all ended up a damp squib when four of the six din­ner guests ar­rived and an­nounced they didn’t eat veg­eta­bles! If my mem­ory serves me right, I think some­one did a mercy dash to Caf­fola’s on Me­spil Road for fish and chips.

Don’t sud­denly de­cide that you are em­pow­ered to bring a plus one. They may not have enough food, or chairs, and they could have been mar­ried once to one of the other guests. Eeeek!

Never ar­rive with your hands hang­ing and al­ways bring a gift to the house. It may not be a bot­tle of wine any more be­cause odd bot­tles of vino drunk back to back are a recipe for hang­overs. The days of the bot­tle of Piat d’Or and a Vi­en­netta ice-cream cake are cer­tainly gone. I al­ways think a nice can­dle is the per­fect choice for a host/host­ess who has put in a lot of ef­fort.

I was rather in­trigued to hear from a Lon­don so­ci­ety host­ess dur­ing an in­ter­view that her choice of party gift was a large box of long matches. Un­usual, yes, but def­i­nitely handy, es­pe­cially if you love light­ing lots of can­dles. Per­son­ally, I love tall white lilies but many peo­ple have is­sues with their fra­grance and their orange sta­mens that stain like hell. A stat­uesque white pot­ted or­chid is al­ways classy, just don’t knock off the best part as you get out of the car.

If you are be­ing hosted by a se­ri­ous foodie, they might ap­pre­ci­ate some un­usual good­ies like se­ri­ously good olive oil (you know, the ones in sil­ver foil) or a vin­tage bal­samic vine­gar or hand­made choco­lates — even some smelly cheese. If you are in a rush and run­ning late on the night and the prospect of garage fore­court flow­ers and a box of Af­ter Eight doesn’t work for you, sim­ply send lovely flow­ers the next day.

Don’t de­cide to play God with the place set­tings by ar­riv­ing early and re-ar­rang­ing them while the host­ess is steam­ing the as­para­gus. Just be­cause you don’t fancy sit­ting be­side your partner’s bor­ing boss does not give you an ex­cuse to up­set the host­ess’s grand plan. And for God’s sake, don’t pipe up and sug­gest ev­ery­one changes seats be­tween cour­ses — that’s just Celtic Tiger net­work­ing malarkey.

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