Friday night dinner party



This is what Friday looked like.

Wake up. Realise I never woke up during the night, as was the plan, to place chicken still cooling down when I went to bed, in the fridge, to serve to a dinner party the next night. Consider the likelihood of salmonella poisoning. Think about the fact that I’m still friends with friends who accidentally gave me salmonella poisoning, and that I will absolutely eat their food again. Decide to risk it. (Johannes takes it upon himself to be the guinea pig for early salmonella detection, and periodically eats a few bites of chicken throughout the day in the hope that, if it’s gone bad, we’ll know before we serve the guests. This is what white bourgeois Russian roulette looks like, courtesy of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, which I spent hours making last night, during which I also reminded myself never again to make any dish that needs to serve ten people that also involves browning the meat, because I cannot spend an entire day thinking about schizophrenia and performativity and French feminist theory from the 70s and then have to stand and fry shit for two hours. No.)

Have coffee and a hot cross bun. Read 46 messages in family chat group that accumulated while I was asleep, mostly about a braai I can’t go to because it would involve 2 10-hour flights and another 10-hour layover in Frankfurt.

Take a bath. Then, clean the bathroom. Am reminded of the pain and existential dread that manual labour inevitably entails. Think about a Koos Kombuis interview where he mentions how in the 80s he lived with a bunch of men in an apartment in Sunnyside, where they never washed any dishes or threw out any of the rotisserie chicken carcasses that they lived off of, until it got so bad that they one day just closed the door of the kitchen and never entered it again until the day they moved out of the apartment.




Read. Specifically, Amelia Hastie’s Cabinets of Curiosity. Then, roast rolled oats in the oven. Read some more. Make a chocolate ganache. Think about desire. And temporality. Take out the recycling. Make lunch. Clean the oil sputters from last night’s frying off the adjacent wall. Make notes on Michael Haneke. Blind bake pastry for Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie, which is the evening’s dessert. Start grant application, then sweep the entryway. Combine roasted oats with sugar, corn syrup, butter, vinegar and vanilla. Realise we’re out of eggs. Run to store to buy eggs. Come back, add eggs to pie mix, pour in ganache-lined pastry shell, bake. Leave husband to check pie, go to talk. Listen to papers on sensory ethnography. Leave before the Q&A, subway back. Husband has washed the kitchen floor and sweeped the living room and baked a focaccia while I was away, instead of dying of salmonella poisoning. #Blessed.

The guests arrive.




About the food: I made Ina Garten’s version of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic because I had a lot of Marsala I wanted to swop in for the white wine Garten calls for, and it worked beautifully. I also like her addition of some cream right at the end, especially if you’re eating this in the Canadian winter. I usually serve this with bread for mopping up the sauce as sauce is kind of the point of this dish – you could even not eat any of the chicken and you’ll still feel mighty pleased with yourself. The bread was Johannes’s baby, and as far as I know it’s a focaccia from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, a book that Johannes takes incredibly seriously. He topped it with sundried tomatoes, olives and herbs. Dessert was from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, and the title, Black Bottom Oat Pie, is more seductive than the pie actually was. Dubbed the poor man’s pecan pie, it was satisfying, with a layer of ganache at the bottom of the pie, the syrupy oats layer on top, but despite adjusting the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe it still felt too sweet.


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