Not Quite Nigella

It is probably advisable, when throwing a dinner party on Friday, to decide you’re doing it a little earlier than Thursday.

I don’t really know what I was expecting when I decided, in a fit of festive benevolence, that I’d throw some sort of dinner party at my flat in an attempt to celebrate the end of term and general Christmassiness in a more sophisticated way than getting pissed at the union. It was a tentative idea at first, more tadpole than frog, and could quite possibly have been abandoned soon after as more trouble than it was worth. And then we arrived at Michael’s basement palace in Kensington for his Christmas party, and there were candles, and an improvised cloakroom, and people in nice clothes, and chocolate fondue, and all of a sudden I thought I too could be Nigella Lawson.

So I got home (having earlier called a few friends who gamely agreed to take the plunge), settled myself down with our cookbook collection and a Crispy Strip (chocolate fondue isn’t really filling), inserted a finger up my arse, and started tugging.

[Clarity note: this doesn’t refer to what I eventually served at the dinner party. That would be disgusting. It’s just that I commonly refer to embarking on an enterprise for which I am ill-suited and have no real knowledge or skill for as “pulling something out of my arse”. Brits will understand.]

Morning came. I tidied my room. Went out and bought groceries. Lugged everything home. Cooked. I was planning on crudites (unfortunately named, I’ve always thought) and dip for everyone to munch on while I was finishing cooking, and a bizarre mixture of Thai beef salad, chicken, aubergine and chick pea curry, spinachy garlicky rice, and paratha, for the main meal. Nav brought chocolate cake. Gwen brought wine. Alec brought wine, ice-cream, interior decorating resourcefulness (a folded bedsheet with coloured napkins on top for the tablecloth) and general sweetness and reliability in helping to fight fires (I mean this literally as well as figuratively).

I’d even invested in crackers and festively hued serviettes.

We started at nine, an hour after the time I’d told people to come for, which was annoying to my perfectionist’s soul, but still fairly on par with most other dinner parties I’ve been to, so I won’t scourge myself for it. All I can say for the quality of the food was that I thoroughly enjoyed it – the Thai beef salad actually lived up to the immense trouble it was to make, the chicken absorbed the flavours of the curry and wasn’t dry, and while some mistakes I made with the rice meant it could have been a lot better, it still tasted good to me. As for what my guests thought, or the state of their digestive systems the next morning, I can only vouch for Alec (whose cooking credentials far surpass mine, which made his thumbs-up all the more gratifying), but the absence of lawsuits thus far indicates they were at least not too negatively affected.

The party ended around three in the morning. I spent Saturday nursing my headache and cleaning the place up.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I don’t regret having done it, but it was a lot of effort for the benefit of a very small number of people. I think my energies might be better directed towards world domination.