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On being a "GOOD" hostess...

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Mindian, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    I did not use the word "perfect hostess " as that ,I believe is taught only at those expensive finishing schools, but here are just a few of my thoughts after the round of get-togethers that we had during this holiday season.

    Do we Indians take a lot on ourselves? I am inclined to think that this is a very Indian trait because I have attended some parties of the Chinese and Malay here. They are such casual hosts. Most of them have an open house and they entertain either the whole day or evening where a lot of food is catered from outside.
    Whereas, a major part of our entertaining is taken up by making sure that there is la lot of food on the table and trying to cook most of it ourselves. Preparations start at least a week before by soaking the channa, half frying cutlets and samosas, and deep freezing them. Then on the day itself, we end up feeling flustered and a little worried whether everyone really liked the food.
    They have taught me that a host has to be fun, have a good time and make sure that the guests do too.

    Is there something called too much of hospitality? There is this aunt of my dh's who, bless her, always invites us for a meal when we visit them. She cooks very well and as soon as we sit down to eat (how much ever we insist, she will not sit with us) she serves us, stands near the table with her hands on her hips (now, that is very awkward for me - first of all, she is elderly and I feel terrible that she is standing while I am sitting, and second, the agony of not being left in peace to enjoy her lovely spread) and asks us "eppadi irukku,." We are expected to comment on each and every dish. A summing up of "Superb samayal, mami" will not do. If we do not have much of the curry, she will be really sad and say "ohhh…. romba kaarama irundhudha, pidikalaya?" and we have to assure her that it was indeed yummy. What's more, she will always comment that my dh eats very little. "ohhhh paavam ….he used to eat so nicely before, now hardly anything…Ennachu, strict restrictions from wife-a??? Not realizing that 'paavam' is now a middle aged person leading a sedentary lifestyle, and just isn't the young athlete he used to be. But she is too sweet, and takes our teasing of her "killing" hospitality very sportingly.

    Then there is my friend here, who cooks really very well and we all look forward to her dinners. In fact, only our well breeding and good manners prevent us from having all our 'do's in her place; we insist on having a round of dinner at each of our places. She cooks for a battalion and all of us are forced to carry back some packed food. Not that we complain, but hearing her talk about the amount of trouble she had to take leaves us feeling very guilty about the whole dinner.

    My MIL has taught me something really sweet - to keep in mind the special favourites of each relative and try and cook those dishes when they visit me. Isn’t that really nice?

    So, now about me.…. I seem to need as many days notice as the number of families for dinner, isn’t that funny? I cook quite well in the sense that I follow verbatim the recipes of my mom, MIL, tarla dalal and more recently our chithvish and WOW, there is a spread on the table that gets quite a few appreciative comments. My mom has taught me to cook a little more so that no dish is completely empty. "There should be enough left over, in order to make sure that no one has stopped eating due to lack of food."

    Now picture me, during one of the dinners that I recently hosted. There I was, happy with the compliments, looking at the remaining dishes on the table and satisfied that everyone has had their fill and also mentally telling myself "hey…. yippee… the next day will be a good earned rest for me with all these leftovers", when of course, my darling hubby butts in and as if reading my thoughts ,tells everyone "hey, please finish off all these, otherwise, we will be having only leftovers for the next one week". Now, doesn’t he deserve one of my FREEZING looks for that? But remembering just in time about being a "fun" hostess, I only laughed indulgently.


    So, which category of hostesses do you belong to?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
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  2. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Mindi

    As always an entertaining and humorous post by you. I think I have got the privilege of giving the first fb in the New Year.

    I have got married to a family where everyone inlcuding myhusband are expert in cooking. So they never believe in keeping cooks for any small functions at home. Even if someone ly keeps a cookint he family they get angry with them saying are we not there to help me. Why engage a cook. My younger brother in law is an expert in making Pal Payasam , well other items are also there which when he cooks is very tasty.

    Mindi I will come back again to give fb as Gopika wants to go to sleep and wants me to put her to sleep. Since I wanted to be the first to give you fb I started posting.

    A very nice post in the New Year.

    love
    viji
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  3. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Mindi,

    Sure you are a Good hostess, which is highlighted in your last line.

    About me..what to say...you should ask our guests..:biglaugh
    Your mom's idea about preparing atleast one dish what the guests would like
    is a very very good one!

    You know sometimes dh would embarass us, thinking they are joking..we had to balance it with our own 'good hostess' smile.

    sriniketan
     
  4. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Mindi

    I came back and wrote two paras by the time I went to post it the net went off. As Bhargavi has said you are a good hostess as well as a good writer.

    I also like to cook myself and also like to serve myself. First I will give my husband to taste the dishes and only when he says its good I feel happy. When someone from our family comes they dont like to beserved and say that we will all eat together and serve ourselves. Since we dont have Dining table in our house, they all sit down and since I cant sit down I sit on the chair and instead of me serving them, they serve me.

    My brother's wife who is also my husband's niece is a good hostess and expert in cooking North as well as South Indian dishes as she has stayed in North and South.

    love
    viji
     
  5. ALPA

    ALPA Platinum IL'ite

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    my dear mindi,

    off course you are a good hostess, i prefer to have the food catered so i can spend time with the guests, well on 1st jan 2009, we had all my uncles family dads sis and all the kids at our place for new yr i made everything, with mum and the cook, it was great, but still i prefer to have the food catered as i can sit with all my guests.

    love
    alpa:cheers
     
  6. natpudan

    natpudan Gold IL'ite

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    mindi,

    i agree with you that we take it as a serious affair & forget to have the fun in hosting the party.

    we plan, take lot of efforts in preparing, serving and expect their appreciation during which we forget to enjoy the party.

    but for most of us the words of appreciation gives the sense of satisfaction & fun. can't really change the way we are brought up.

    you are good host of the posts as well.
     
  7. knot2share

    knot2share Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Mindi
    I am very sure that you are a great hostess and a chirpy and fun loving hostess too. Indian cooking in general takes a long time anyway and like you said to host a party of sorts, I too need a verrrrry long time to prepare. If the crowd is too big, we opt to buy some from outside and make the remaining at home. When somebody offers to bring a dish, I never say NO :). Of course it again depends on the person we are inviting. We have some friends who are Id ka chaand kinda visitors. In such cases I do it on my own. With my regular ones, anything chalta hain. I have never hosted a "formal" party to date. Another thing that we don't follow is like the aunt of yours...wait for guests to eat first and serve. If older guests are invited, yes then I do that for them but with the rest of us, no way. Everybody digs in whenever they feel like. Also men eating first and then women following suite............NO NO NO! By the time they all come in and have a chat and then the men folk decide on having a drink or two, which they nurse it slowly and then get involved in "spirited" discussion, stomachs start to grumble for us. So we ladies finish our meal and then join them.

    I know of people who serve food on your plates as soon as they find it empty. They never even ask the person if they would like some more or not. It is such a struggle and suffocation due to hospitality. I will quote a little incident that happened to us. When my in-laws had visited us a few years ago, we all had been to a friend's place for dinner. They are actually our friends parents, so elderly couple and north indians. Of course that aunty cooks superbly. My inlaws hubby and me sat for dinner and both uncleji and auntyji were making hot hot baturas and serving. We were all talking while having dinner and it so happened that my FIL was half way through a batura that he got caught up in a discussion with uncleji and it took him a few minutes before he could resume his eating. In a flash, the uncleji snatched the half eaten batura from his plate and served a hot batura instead!!! He said, the other one had gone cold, so he took it off.........I was shocked and annoyed and wanted to laugh on seeing that.. We came back home and all four of us could not stop laughing at the incident. That was their way of showing their hospitality.....other than that, they are such a sweet couple!

    PS: Apologise for a long feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  8. monikakrishna76

    monikakrishna76 New IL'ite

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    you shold always come with surprise element.

    atleast one dish should be what you are best at.,
    and one dish which your guests like.,
     
  9. Nitha J

    Nitha J IL Hall of Fame

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    Mindi;
    A very lovely write-up. An area I am quite poor, I believe. I love cooking for guests; but I get tensed very much.
    -Nitha
     
  10. Padmini

    Padmini IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Mindi,
    In your humorous style you have brought out the facts
    about being a good hostess? guest. You are correct. Our type of cooking needs elaborate preparations before and after.
    We all want to be the best host or hostess. We imagine ourselves stress free, floating around the room making sure all our guests are happy and having fun. In reality, we typically find ourselves running into the kitchen.
    Somemes too much hospitality suffocate us. One of my relatives used to cll us for lunch, if my DDor DS come for vacation.Once when we all went to her house on her invitation, we were stunned to look at the size of the plantain leaf!! My DS said, " Aunty, it seems we have to run to the other side of the leaf to relish the items served there"!!!
    Not only that with her over enthusiasm in serving she would serve everything in such away that our mouths would become full with the items and tears would be rolling down the eyes. So whenever she calls us for lunch, we used to put forward some sort of excuse!! what to do?
    I think the most important part of being a hostess is to make everyone feel welcomed at the event, and to act like everything your guests do is a pleasure.Sometimes we have to bear with the silly remarks of the DH which is very common in every house:). Enjoyed very much the humor in your write up!!
    with love
    pad
     

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