#21: The Dinner Party

Perhaps this is evidence of the twilight of my twenties, but I can’t think of too many things I’d rather do on a Friday night than share a kitchen with a handful of good friends. This weekend we had an Italian themed dinner party: green minestrone soup from Genoa, fresh basil pesto, pasta with a ginger and butternut squash sauce, gelato and Italian wine. We listened to Italian punk rock and ska. With dessert we watched To Rome with Love, and fell asleep to The Bicycle Thief.

There is something beautifully elemental about orchestrating a casual dinner party. An empty, clean kitchen is thoroughly dishevelled and then put back again to its nascent state. Vegetables and meats transform; wine bottles empty. Impermanence deliciously personified.

Coming in from the chilled, already dark evening, we invaded the kitchen with bags of groceries: leafy greens and globular browns and cardboard boxes tumbled onto counter tops. Music burbled brightly in the background. Corks popped from wine bottles, droplets splashed onto the table and dribbled down the sides of rotund glasses. Onions were chopped, mascara ran. Sauces bubbled and boiled and spilled over onto on the white ceramic stove top. Bodies bumped together, laughter and conversation billowed and commingled with the swirls of onion, garlic, basil and Chianti tang. The apartment felt especially cozy that night: a snowstorm loomed in the forecast. Decisions were reached by trial and consensus – Is this pasta al dente enough? Does the sauce need more chilli?

Courses were served in turn; we ate and ate.

We left piles of dirty dishes in haphazard stacks on the counters and collapsed, saturated, on the couch and put on the first movie. We punctuated the film with languorous conversation. Eyelids were drooping but we hadn’t run out of laughter. The next day, the cluttered kitchen simmered unobtrusively in the slanted, lucent morning light. Coffee percolated and seduced. We began to clean up.

There’s a meditative quality to the scouring of dishes. The mental detritus of the previous week is taken out on the sticking leftovers and washed down the drain along with the dirty, soapy water. The kitchen transforms – clean to messy to clean again – and so we do, too. Rinse and repeat; our lives roll on.

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