My daughter and I were enjoying a lovely lunch in Newburyport. The sun was shining and we were investigating all the cute little stores. We stopped for lunch and I ordered a gyros wrap with onion rings (oh, how I love onion rings!).
Both were fabulously delicious, when suddenly the attack began. After taking a bite, I realized that my onion rings were sitting in a pool of wrap-dressing. I quickly moved them to higher ground, and then without warning, the flood ensued. A gap in the foil wrapper caused the dressing to go everywhere. My plate, the table, the chair, the floor, even the window next to our table...covered in oily dressing.
Then I looked down and saw that I was sitting in a puddle of it. It was also dripping down the front of my coat, shirt and hair. If I had to guess, I'd say more than one CUP of dressing had attached itself to my person and immediate surroundings.
My onion rings forgotten, I quickly sprang from my chair, trying to remove the offending grease from my shirt and jeans, but it was useless. I then took an entire roll of paper towels to the restroom, and proceeded to remove dressing from myself and my clothing, right down to the socks and underwear. This required a good deal of water, and I was fortunate that there was one of those extremely powerful hand dryers...and that it was a single-stall restroom. Because although I don't often feel embarrassed, I'm not sure I could have dried everything required under a hand dryer in a multi-stall facility.
The story has a happy ending. Thanks for the brilliant engineers at Excel (the hand dryer people) and an entire trash basket of paper towels, I emerged mostly clean and mostly dry, ready to finish my day with an extremely embarrassed teenage daughter.
But there are lessons to be learned from my nasty experience.
First, gyros (like Cheetos and baby back ribs) are a food best eaten in private. I'm normally pretty good about this, but it was Mother's Day so I guess that I thought the normal rules did not apply.
Second, when you are a host planning food, think not just about what your guests might like (pigs in a blanket = joy for anyone under 16), but how they will eat it. Small finger foods are the best at gatherings of more than 8 people; guests can grab a piece (and maybe a napkin on the side) and go. Save things eaten with a knife & fork for other occasions.
Years ago, I attended a benefit with drinks & appetizers. Due to poor planning on my part, I arrived quite hungry and deicded I would grab an appetizer or two. I knew they were there...I could SMELL them...but somehow never found one until I was offered a piece of beef wellington. While talking to a very elegant woman I accepted a piece of beef, however once I bit into it, realized my error: my lipstick was immediately and completely covered in flakes of puff pastry. I spent the entire conversation basically trying to chew the stuff off my own lips...as discretely as possible. I don't think I ever saw that woman again, but that may have been because she's been crossing the street to avoid me ever since.
Here are some tasty - and easy to eat - suggestions for your next gathering:
Sweet & Salty Nuts
Ham-wrapped asparagus spears (bonus - a no-carb recipe!)
Thin Italian breadsticks, such as Alessi
A couple of cheeses on a board or plate (one soft cheese and one hard) with a bowl of grapes on the side
Bacon cream cheese roll ups (extremely unhealthy, but simple to make and very, very good; picture at left)
Chocolate fondue with mini-marshmallows speared with tiny pretzels for dipping
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Any of these would leave your guests happy...and not wearing the food you are trying to serve them.
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