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Dec 5, 2006 05:43 AM

"We're having people over for enchiladas tomorrow night...

would you like to come?" my friend asked me. "Sure!" I replied, "Would you like me to bring anything?"

"I think we've got it covered, just yourself!"

Awesome. I picked up a pack of Coronas and off I went.

I got to their house on the dot of 8, my hosts were lovely, the conversation was fantastic and everything was great. And there they were - the enchiladas. And nothing else. They were absolutely delicious, albeit somewhat lonely. I savoured every mouthful. I was suddenly envious.

Envious because when I have people over for enchiladas, it always has to be a massive production. I plan and shop for days, fretting and stressing and generally making a fuss. I cook all day: the enchiladas of course, and refried beans, a salad, and Spanish rice. And homemade salsa and guacamole. And maybe some grilled corn on the cob with chipotle butter.

And then I worry about the lone vegetarian in the gang. What if the rice, beans, salsa, guac and corn aren't enough? So maybe I'll prepare some sort of veggie fajita dish. At which point I'll start to worry that the rest of the gang might want some too so I'll just go ahead and make enough for everybody. Maybe throw together some quesadillas while I'm at it.

We must have margaritas, of course. And flan. And since I now have the makings of a fiesta on my hands I'll probably have to seek out some appropriate tunes to set the mood.

And I love every second of it and we all stuff ourselves silly and everyone has a fabulous time.

But once, just once, I would love to have people over for enchiladas and serve just that. Simple, stress-free and every bit as delicious.

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  1. I'm the same way.....and am seriously trying to simplify my entertaining so that I can do it more often. However........I'd rather go to your house than theirs.

    1. Me too. Although enchiladas can be made to be a complete meal, full of terrific ingredients, I love the idea of offering more for a meal. Especially when you are entertaining.

      1. Well, I'm totally talking out of my nether regions here, because I do EXACTLY the same as you, but I have to say, if someone says what the menu is and you don't like it, that's your golden opportunity to refuse politely.

        "Hi, Shlomo, we're having people over tomorrow for bacon cheeseburgers, would you like to come?"

        "Oh, Edna, I'd love to, but I have another commitment tomorrow. Maybe we can meet for some nice bagels and lox Sunday morning? I'd love to see you!"

        I've gotten better. Our friends know they can ask what we're having and I won't be insulted if they go, "Hm, maybe another time," because, let's face it, not everyone likes the same things. And then I make that stuff.

        1. C'mon, chowers, isn't there a happy medium? I am all about going all out when I have the time/energy. But even when I don't, some store-bought chips and simple diced tomato salsa go a long way. Even just a salad. Heck, even just a lime for the beer! :)

          1. I remember many years ago a colleague from another city came in to work on a project in my office. We just clicked. I asked if he would like to join my husband and I for a bowl of stew for dinner and took him home to the leftovers of the pot of stew I had made over the weekend.

            We probably added some rolls and a glass of red wine but I know I didn't have dessert or even salad makings. It was a weeknight supper.

            We learned that he lived alone, didn't cook and ate out almost all of the time. He was thrilled. He adored the stew and the homey meal and raved about our hospitality to the rest of his team.

            I've often repeated that form of entertaining, even on a semi-planned basis. "I'm making a pot of risotto, want to come over?" I made pasta sauce this weekend - join us for supper!" I just bought some great chard at the market and we're having beans and greens. Dinner is a at 8 pm."

            The other advantage, for good cooks, is that your friends are less intimidated and less fearful of inviting you over to their place. And, I'm often asked to teach a non-cook how to make one of my simple meals.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BostonZest

              Here is a side question: Do you think that it's intimidating to non-cooks when they come to your house and have a really good meal? I'm not talking about a pull-out-all-the-stops party smorgasbord, but just a meal with a nibble and drinks, then a salad and/or soup, then a main course and then dessert? I have had some comments about "Oh, man, I can't invite you to MY house", etc. We DO get invited to others' and I've never had a bad meal (except at my SILs, who is famous for the "one dish dinner evening" which usually consists of asking us to come at 5:00, giving us a glass of water after we ask for one, and not serving the small bowl of boiled shrimp until 9:00. No cocktail sauce, no sides, no salad, no bread. Just boiled shrimp. She has issues.).

              I don't serve people standing rib roast as the main course, but I do cook fairly well. Is there, do you think, an intimidation factor for someone who doesn't cook to come to someone's house who loves food and cooking? Should we "dumb down" our meals to make people more comfortable?

              1. re: Andiereid


                I think the intimidation factor is alive and well, and I so didn't want that to happen. I don't do such an over-the-top's nice enough and I like to do it, so the fact that I care shows. What my good friends tell me is that I seem so RELAXED......and that seems to be one of the aspects that makes poeple reluctant to reciprocate. Entertaining makes people unbeievably nervous..... as if their guests' good time is totally their responsibility. For some reason, it doesn't dawn on me to think that way. I do what I do, invite grown ups, and leave them in charge of the rest. Other thoughts on this???

                1. re: onefineleo

                  I agree completely. And I have to say, I do feel that it is a responsibility of the guest to participate and help entertain. They're there to entertain me every bit as much as I'm there to entertain them.

                  I get a lot of comments about being relaxed too, then someone will say something about how I do this a lot - which is the key, I think. I have a couple who jokes about how I probably do two seatings a night ("Well, I wish the Lavengoods would hurry up and leave, the Masseys will be here at 9:00!") Most of my friends have known me long enough now that they know I just love to entertain.

                  But it's the new guests I do "worry" about, for lack of a better term.