Hospitality plus 

It was our turn to host the festive meal today. Every year the date varies slightly because my husband continues to work over Xmas and his roster varies every week.

Somehow, despite the fact that I do this every year, I got well behind this time. It may have been the two new time consuming dishes that I had decided to add to the menu. It may have been my lack of attention to housework across the last week or two, it may have been my husband’s back seizing up a day ago, which meant that all the jobs he normally does to help me on the day were taking him twice as long and accompanied by loud moans of pain or it may have been a combination of all of these.

I was awake at 5.30 am and had only two thoughts in my mind: custard and sugar syrup. Odd to have these bouncing around but I had a massive trifle that needed its final layer made and cooled and the orange syrup was something I had ever made before and it made me nervous. Sugar and heat need to be managed well, and I was pretty sure that even though it was detailed in the recipe I might mess it up.

I am someone who loves to add a bit of last minute tension so I decided to go shopping and make vol au vonts, which are not difficult, just fiddly. Once you are out shopping as well, it is all too easy for the three or four things to become six or seven and then I thought maybe I would take the dogs for a longer walk so they were sorted for the day.

As time flowed away faster and faster, both my husband’s and my hospitality backgrounds kicked in. I have always been back of house, he front of house, so he was worrying about vacuuming and I was worried about oven temperatures. All of a sudden, I knew guests would be on the way.

With less than an hour to go, the entire exercise was like a manic mash-up of, ‘How Clean Is Your House?’ and ‘Come Dine With Me’ with a strong potential for a ‘Murder She Wrote’ spin off.

As I scraped some make up over my face, while simultaneous trying to remove dust from around the bathroom sink as oil heated on the stove, he announced that with the clock ticking, he had to head out and asked if there was anything else I needed.

‘Recipe for tempura, ‘ I responded, ‘ T.E.M.P.U.R.A’

His reply was on point: ‘I know how to spell it, and I am about to bloody lose mine.’

At the end of the day, people arrived, food was eaten and a good day was had by all.

To all reading this at the last day of 2016, I send good wishes for a great 2017.


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