Over Christmas I had the annual pleasure of catering for my father’s Boxing Day bash – an event where my father invites his singleton friends (mostly widows or widowers) over to ensure that no one is feeling alone over the festive period. The rules for the family are quite simple – you will be there. Having normally provided Christmas dinner for around 12 people on Christmas Day, the prospect of another day of cooking and entertaining is never that appealing – once you add in a room full of elderly people where walking sticks and replacement hips outnumber guests and you can appreciate why I approach the day with a large amount of caffeine.
For my own sanity, I try to keep lunch simple with a hot soup with freshly baked bread (thank you teenage daughter), followed by a mix of leftovers from Christmas Day and a fresh roast joint, and rounded off with a mixture of around 3 puddings. Bearing in mind, I am also keen on having some relaxation time with my own young family, I try to agree that I will leave after lunch (having washed and tidied up as much as possible) leaving my father to deal with an early evening meal of cold meats, cheese, biscuits, and fresh fruit.
Lunch was served around one o’clock and all appeared to be going well – right up until pudding when one of the guests requested a piece of cheesecake (again, thank you teenage daughter) and then refused to eat it until he had been served his cheese course! He had heard there would be cheese and then boldly stated the he did not wish his palate to be ruined by having his sweet cheesecake before his cheese! Taken aback by his rudeness I did gently inform him that he would be waiting some time before cheese, but undeterred by this, he continue to sit there waiting for his cheese to appear. In the end, I had no choice than to be blunt and say that cheese would form part of his evening meal and suggested that he stopped being so rude.
This raises two issues – firstly the rudeness of a guest disagreeing with a host’s meal plan. I am a firm believer that whenever you are invited as a guest then whatever your host provides as food should be welcomed with enthusiasm and thanks. As the recipient of both an invitation and food, it is correct to thank your host and say how lovely the food looks whether you have been served a microwave meal or a technically challenging soufflé! It may not be quite what you were expecting but your host has gone to the trouble nevertheless and therefore thanks and appreciation are in order.
The second issue appears to have been brought back into the light by Mary Berry who mentioned in an article that she likes to serve cheese before pudding at her dinner parties. At this point the internet was divided with some people agreeing that finishing a meal on a sweet note was preferable to switching between savoury, sweet, and then back to savoury. But which is correct? Having considered the arguments about cheese traditionally being served with port after a meal making the sweet/savoury argument a little redundant, and now having tried cheese before pudding – I can only conclude that both are perfectly fine and both very pleasant. The one thing I continue to whole heartedly disagree with though, is a rude guest. When a host has gone to the trouble (or in my case, put his daughter to the trouble) of providing a day of food and companionship – remember your manners!
What’s the rudest thing a guest has done that you have seen?