Hump Day: When in dinner party doubt, don’t freak out – think fricot!

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

My kitchen is gross and outdated. I wrote about that a few weeks ago. I’m currently in the process of getting prices and deciding in which direction to go. What I’ve discovered so far is that I’m going to have to sell a kidney on the black market in order to pay for it. As many have told me – and as I’m now discovering for myself – kitchens aren’t cheap! And if you’re going to make the investment, then you might as well go all out!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my kitchen lately because – even though I know it’s as outdated as actually having to get up and manually turn the channel on your TV – I’ve realized that it can still be a place to bring friends together for great meals, lively conversation and lots of laughs. Despite my kitchen’s warts, I’ve made a conscience decision to start enjoying it by inviting people over again for supper.

Um, well by ‘again’ I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I somehow fell out of the habit of having people over. I never really got into the habit, actually. I bought the house in 2001 and I don’t think the number of times I’ve had people sitting down for a meal at my kitchen table has even hit the double digits yet. Yeah, 14 years in one house and I’ve had people over for a meal less than 10 times. Let’s just say that my phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook from Martha Stewart looking for advice on entertaining guests.

To be fair to my poor deserted dining room, I’ve had a few blowout parties at the house, but that was years ago. My place is more like a convent these days than party central. That said, I think the dining room table has been awash in empty liquor bottles from those parties more often than it’s been surrounded by friends sharing a meal.

That needed to change, so a few weeks ago I hosted my first dinner party in years. I invited a few friends over and decided to splurge. I spent a small fortune and made seafood casserole from my Cy’s Seafood Restaurant recipe booklet (enter the word Cy’s in the search box on my website at briancormier.com and you’ll find it), made a sinfully good appetizer (baked brie with Kahlua and pecans) and a to-die-for lemon cheesecake to round things out. At the end of it, no one could move. We were stuffed.

friends mealThe dinner conversation among friends that night was loud, boisterous – and at times hilariously inappropriate and profane, like all good meals with friends should be. I hope no one bugged my house because some of the stuff said that night will surely come back to haunt us all.

We sat, talked, and talked some more. With our dessert, we drank coffee – way too late at night for most of us. I’m sure a few didn’t get to sleep until much later.

All’s fun in dinner and laughter, but in the end, someone must clean up. By the time the last person walked out the door, it was 11:15 p.m. I was completely exhausted from entertaining. I wasn’t used to this. It’s a lot of work! I had a newfound appreciation for those who have invited me over to their homes on many occasions for meals, especially my mother during holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I thought of my grandmothers who raised nine children each. That’s a lot of cooking three times per day. Heck, I was ready for a vacation after a dinner for only four!

As soon as the last person left, I crashed on the sofa. I couldn’t move. I was spent. Finished. Then I turned my head and saw the dirty pile of dishes and knew I had a bit of work do to before heading to bed. I turned on the radio and tackled the mess in three spurts of energy. Within 45 minutes, the kitchen was clean and everything was put away. It didn’t take long.

Over the weekend, I had more friends over, this time for an Acadian feast of chicken fricot, poutines râpées and râpeé (chiard). I cheated a bit on the poutines and bought those, but the rest was made from scratch – all in that outdated kitchen I say I hate so much.

I’m starting to feel, though, like my kitchen is like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Because once you surround it with good food and friends, it’s not such a bad little kitchen.

One Response to Hump Day: When in dinner party doubt, don’t freak out – think fricot!

  1. Love this article Brian. And even though we sometimes wish to have the “kitchen of our dreams”, when family and friends are in it, talking, laughing, eating – sharing in good times, the kitchen somehow is transformed into a magical place! When I think back to some of the most loved kitchens I have been in because of the people and the food created, they have all been old, mis-matched and ‘out of date’ rooms. Maybe that is what makes them so special!