What’s for Dinner Party?

HE: Should we have people over on Saturday?

SHE: Yes, that sounds nice.

HE: Great, I’ll ask Pam and Peter.

SHE: And I’ll ask the Shapiros, Fern, and Fran & Mary.

HE: How about Tim & Tina, and Sadakat & Melissa?

SHE: Sounds good to me. Should we take that pork roast out of the freezer?

Bob Shapiro is eating pork again after he got into that screaming match with the Rabbi. 

HE: But Tina’s a vegetarian and Sadakat’s Muslim, so he doesn’t eat pork.

SHE: Sadakat’s okay with other people eating pork, so long as he can have macaroni n’ cheese.

HE: But Mary’s lactose intolerant, would Sadakat eat vegan mac n’ cheese?

SHE: Is that high protein? Fern’s on a high protein diet, could we have steak?

HE: Tim just got his cholesterol back, and it’s 280.

SHE: How about I make pierogies and kasha? Doesn’t kasha lower cholesterol?

HE: Fern and Pam are not doing carbs, and Melissa swears she has celiac.

SHE: I can make meat-analogue raviolis out of corn flour—

HE: Wait! Sadakat just updated his status—he’s on a raw food diet.

SHE: And Melissa just tweeted that she is now lacto-vegan.

HE: Maybe we need to re-think this.

BOTH: Hmmmmmmmm!

SHE: Well, we can always do a meze.

HE: Why, yes! Middle eastern/Balko-Mediterrean small plates are perfect for varying dietary needs.

SHE: Tahina, fire-roasted baba ganoush, feta, olives, tamara salata.

HE: Kofte, houlemi, merguez, muhammara.

SHE: Dolma, souvlaki, fatoosh.

HE: Something for everyone!

SHE: But do you think that a meze might be construed as too PC?

HE: How do you mean?

SHE: Jew, Muslim, Greek, Turk—“why can’t we just all get along?”

HE: I see what you mean, sometimes being too sensitive is worse than being not quite sensitive enough.

SHE: It is a delicate balance.

HE: People aren’t happy if they don’t have anything to complain about.

SHE: Like what Oscar Wilde said about hanging out your clean laundry in public.

HE: OK, no meze.

SHE: Maybe we should have something ethnically neutral––like make your own pizza.

HE: Wheat crusts and gluten-free crusts.

SHE: Milk cheese and soy cheese.

HE: White pies, red pies, cheeseless pies.

SHE: Meat pies, meatless pies, all kinds of toppings.

HE: People can make their own.

BOTH: Brilliant!

SHE: Oh wait.

HE: What?

SHE: Nix that.

HE: Why?

SHE: We can’t have pizza.

HE: Why on earth not?

SHE: Because there is a little league game on Saturday.

HE: So?

SHE: So Fran & Mary and Tim & Tina will all be eating pizza, post game.

HE: For crying out loud.

SHE: Let’s not give up, we are on a roll. Rolls!

HE: Well, I guess technically if I’m on a roll and you are on a roll we are on “rolls” but conventional English —

SHE: No, sushi rolls.

HE: We could maki vegetarian sushi.

SHE: With low sodium wheat free soy sauce.

HE: Preserved plum, avocado, cucumber, pickled carrots.

SHE: But what about the no carb people?

HE: Sashimi.

SHE: But Tina, Melissa, and Fern don’t eat fish.

HE: Then we can serve pork katsu, and chicken terriaki.

SHE: No sushi.

HE: Why not?

SHE: I can’t say.

HE: Why can’t you say?

SHE: I can’t say why I can’t say.

HE: You cannot be serious, you are going have to tell me something.

SHE: Can you keep a secret?

HE: You know I can.

SHE: Fran & Mary are pregnant.

HE: Both of them?

SHE: So they can’t eat sushi.

HE: No problem, they can eat the other stuff. 

SHE: You are missing the point. If they don’t eat sushi, both of them, then Melissa will know they are preggers.

HE: I guess I understand.

SHE: Omelettes?

HE: So blah.

SHE: Did you say Soba or so blah?

HE: I said–-soba is perfect!

SHE: Meat broth and vegetarian broth.

HE: Soba, udon, chow fun, cellophane noodles.

SHE: That’s wheat, buckwheat, rice, and potato starch/tapioca.

HE: Pickled veggies.

SHE: Fresh herbs.

HE: Fried fish.

SHE: Quail eggs.

HE: Fresh greens.

SHE: Thin cut meats.

HE: One from column A, One from column B . . .

SHE: Interactive!

HE: Multi-modal!

SHE: We can’t do it.

HE: Why not?

SHE: We had Pho at Sadakat and Melissa’s.

HE: But that was terrible.

SHE: Exactly, they’ll think we are trying to out-do them.

BOTH: Hmmmm.

HE: Tapas?

SHE: Meatballs, sautéed shrimp, fried potatoes.

HE: Broiled sardines, stewed tripe, fried squid.

SHE: This is a basically a list of foods no one will eat.

HE: [Sigh] You’re right. How about new world Spanish?

SHE: You mean tacos?

HE: Corn, flour, and lettuce leaves covers the gluten/non-gluten/no carb thing.

SHE: Cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and soy-yer cream.

HE: Salsa, salsa verde, pica de gallo.

SHE: Reminds me of a party in the TV lounge of my college dorm.

HE: Are we beyond that?

SHE: No, but our friends are. Keep thinking.

HE: This is much harder than planning our wedding.

SHE: Well yeah, we just went to a Chinese restaurant after pledging our vows before the City Clerk.

HE: Dim sum!

SHE: Noodles, dumplings, small plates.

HE: Rice flour.

SHE: Plenty of vegetarian options.

HE: Kosher and halal options too.

SHE: Wait. Dim sum is out. Tim & Tina go to dim sum every Sunday.

HE: But our party is Saturday.

SHE: But they’d be eating dim sum two days in a row.

HE: So should we just not invite them?

SHE: We have to invite them, we owe them four invites already.

HE: I guess you dim sum you lose some. How about a salad bar?

SHE: Super healthy.

HE: And very easy.

SHE: Several kinds of fresh greens.

HE: Anchovies, capers, fresh mozz, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, feta.

SHE: Pickled beets, pickled turnips, pickled daikon.

HE: Sliced steak, chicken breast, homemade bacos; hmmm what else…? It’s reminding me of the Whole Foods salad bar.

SHE: Ugh.

HE: I guess that settles that.

SHE: Sorry. I’m running out of steam.

HE: We need a hero.

SHE: What?

HE: Heroes, hero sandwiches: various spreads, meats, cheeses, cilantro, lemon  basil.

SHE: I like it.

HE: We’ll set up a toasting station for people to make pannis, cubanos, and grilled cheese. Gluten free bread, wraps.

SHE: And a toaster oven for subs: Meatball, chicken parm, steak and cheese.

HE: Kind of a fat bomb.

SHE: Maybe we should just make it cocktails.

HE: Greyhounds and Lemon Drops.

SHE: Beer, wine, sangria.

HE: Maybe a pousse café?

SHE: We can even run a dessert cocktail, like an Irish coffee.

HE: And mocktails and craft seltzers for Fran & Mary.

SHE: I can’t find any objections.

HE: What a relief!

SHE: I’ll say!

BOTH: Thank God everybody still drinks! ❑

Zack Barowitz is a flâneur. He lives in Portland, Maine.

Photo by Lee Myungseong

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