Check please! I’m just not fit to dine with foodies
My apologies to the Sullivans.
My stunted palate once again became the tail that wagged the dog and ruined another swanky L.A. dinner party.
Kirk and Deann Sullivan are former neighbors and longtime friends. Deann also happens to be a foodie and a gifted hostess who loves trying new recipes.
I, on the other hand, have the gastronomic sensibilities of a 9-year-old. A perfect meal for me is a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. If it comes shrink-wrapped on a small square of white cardboard with cream filling, I’m in. If you tracked down the recipe after watching Anthony Bourdain on CNN wolf down a forkful while squatting on a bamboo mat in a hut in Cambodia, I’m out.
However, fish gotta swim and foodies gotta cook. After dodging repeated invitations to dinner with increasingly lame excuses, the piper finally got paid.
Now mind you, the Sullivans are people I genuinely enjoy. They live in a beautiful home I have visited many times. I have known their children since they were tiny tots and even pet-sat for their tortoise, Weezer, and a hamster that is unfortunately no longer with us. Still, I’d rather spend an evening in the dentist’s chair than suffer through one more home-cooked meal at the Sullivans or anybody else’s house.
As the quintessential meat and potatoes guy, there are only so many ways I can fake my way through an evening of asparagus-spinach dip appetizers with shiitake mushroom and kale miso broth soup followed by eggplant-potato moussaka in pine nut cream sauce casseroles as an entree. While The Wife — a foodie herself — and the other adults at the table are ooing and ahhing over the latest epicurean miracle to appear before us, I’m hoping I can quietly slip a clump of caramelize onions with leaks and lentils to the dog without getting busted.
Having struggled through countless evenings at intimate dinner parties featuring brilliantly creative haute cuisine I wouldn’t touch if it was a choice between starvation and cannibalism, I’m begging you to stop inviting me to your homes for dinner!
And it’s not just that I don’t want to offend my hosts. I don’t want my Neanderthal taste buds to dictate what all the other guests eat.
Longtime friends, including the Sullivans, are hip to the fact I only eat grease, fat, salt, sugar and artificial coloring. This means their entire dinner party is planned around my exceptionally limited range of acceptable foods. Out of kindness, or perhaps pity, hosts and hostess alike have served up pigs-in-a-blanket with a mac n’ cheese chaser rather than the chickpea cutlets and tangerine baked tofu their mouths actually water for.
Then there’s that awkward moment of knowing when a dinner party has come to an end.
After another long week in the salt mines my weekend nights usually end about 7:30. Unfortunately, at most dinner parties the platter of artichoke hearts with curried bean dip is still circulating at 7:30 and I’ve still got two more unidentifiable starters to dodge before we even move to the table for the main event.
This is why I love restaurants.
There’s usually a hamburger or piece of chicken or bowl of boiled noodles at a restaurant and, if not, I can always ask the waiter to ask the chef to make something not on the menu. Money talks.
Then, after desert and coffee, comes the check. Yes, the check! The universal sign an evening has come to an end; no dishes to wash, no interminable chitchat about the hot new show I never heard of that everyone is binge-watching and, most importantly, no long silence on the ride home followed by The Wife’s admonition, “You could have at least tried the broccoli-millet croquettes. Deann went through a lot of trouble!”
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 on AM 790. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.