Friday, January 19, 2007

A Sermon on Hospitality

I like to a cook--a lot. Not the every day, day after day cooking, which becomes so tiresome I sometimes wish we would all be happy with a sandwich for dinner. I like cooking for special occasions.

I like to invite people to my house and feed them. I like having them sit down for a meal and feel comfortable and rest their elbows on the table, if that's what makes them happy. And let's all have another glass of wine. It isn't a selfless act on my part because I get great satisfaction from the whole experience. I also get compliments because, evidently, I cook fairly well.

I don't believe my food is good because of some innate talent or well-honed skill on my part. I think it's because I have an eye for a good recipe. Anybody can create a good meal if they start with the right instructions and a good bottle of wine.

Who was it who said, "I like to cook with wine, and sometimes I add it to the food."

Anyway, the comments I hear often is, "Please don't go to any trouble" or "Oh, you shouldn't have gone to so much trouble."

I think people should go to trouble. If you open up your home to people, you should put some effort into the experience, make them feel like they are guests of honor at an event, let them see they mean something to you. When you come into some one's home and they shove a bowl of stale cheese curls at you because they didn't want to bother spending time in the kitchen for you, well doesn't that make you feel special? And doesn't that want make you come back?

Several years ago, my neighbor invited me over for dinner after my second child was born. My pregnancy had been one miserable experience with weeks in the hospital and more vomiting than...well...you get the idea. My neighbor served a very simple and inexpensive meal which included canned peaches and Dr. Pepper. She went out of her way to serve those specific things because she thought I liked them. It made me feel so loved I couldn't bring myself to tell her that I lived on those two things during the worst months of my pregnancy because for some odd psychological phenomena--they were the only things that would stick around long enough to digest. I can't even stand the smell of them anymore. The point is, my neighbor went to some trouble just for me.

So, invite someone over for dinner. Make their favorite dish. Pour them a glass of their favorite beverage. Give them the best seat at the table. They'll feel loved. And you'll feel a little lighter for having given something away.

8 comments:

dive said...

Why on earth do people assume cooking good things is "going to trouble"?
Cooking is GREAT!
Though that's a good point about making something a person might love, no matter how simple.
The only problem is, you've made me really hungry; what with this post and the next one, and it's only 3:30 … Rats!
Anyone want to come over for dinner?

RICH said...

I like vooking the way you do robyn, Yea I can sling out the hash every night for the family because I have to. But what I enjoy is, like you... cooking for quests and watching them enjoy it. For a while I was inviting someone for dinner at least once a week. maybe I will start that tradition again.

agai, thanks for sharing

Sassy Sundry said...

I love cooking for special occassions, too. And, I totally agree, why bother if you aren't going to do it right.

Dive, I'll be right there.

Gina said...

Like you, I think I have an eye for a good recipe.

Dinner parties are great fun! Maybe when Mr. P gets a little older...

Robyn said...

Dive, I think it's because a lot of people don't like to cook, and all they know is basic utilitarian cooking, which is never fun.

Rich,wow, once a week is a lot. But it's a good practice, and very generous of you.

Sassy, one of these days we'll have to round up the Americans and all show up at Dive's door for dinner and music. Since we wouldn't be able to call first, it will be a complete surprise.

Gina, I don't remember if I have guests for dinner often when my kids were small. I was just learning to cook in those days. But if you have friends with little kids, then every body is happy.

Alifan said...

So glad to know other people who love to cook....

When we had our pub did lots of home cooked food, and we did really well.. no doubt Dive will tell you about the many times I have sold their lunches!!, well you could not let customers down..........and there was always scampi or steak in the freezer....do not think they ever forgave me.....

Robyn said...

Alifan, you had a pub?! How fun, or was it? I would think owning a pub or restaurant of any kind would be a 24-hour-a-day commitment, but if it's what you want, then it would be very exciting.

I don't think I have heard Dive mention your selling his lunch.

dive said...

Too many times, Robyn.
I'd come back home from college only to find the restaurant had been busy (Mum's too good a cook) and my dinner had been sold.
Oh, well … there was always good beer to make up for it.

A very long time ago, that.