Hey, who are we having for dinner?
“Who’s coming to eat with us” or “who’s coming over for dinner” sound better. Still, the fact remains that dinner is oftentimes not thought of as a human experience but as an act of eating. “Who are we having for dinner” implies “who are eating for dinner” more than “who is dining with us.” Dinner is all about what you eat.
Corey Mintz addresses this issue in his article “In the End, It’s Not About the Food”. He talks about what it means to be a good dinner host in general (but he references Thanksgiving dinner mostly).
The main point of the article, as the title suggests, is that being a good host is about entertaining guests and giving them a good experience. He criticizes the norm of dinner being all about what the actual meal is, how it is prepared, and whether it’s good or not. It is fairly common that the quality of the cooking determines the host’s success in entertaining, and he argues that this shouldn’t be the case.
Well, think about the following question:
Which Thanksgiving dinner would you rather have?
It’s safe to say that (a) looks a lot more appetizing. Mintz article brings up very good points, and I’ll be sure to rationalize my lack of culinary skills with his argument next time I have guests.
However, the fact remains that people love food. More importantly, people love GOOD food.
Regardless of what the host feeds his guests, guests will shower their host with praise and appreciation. So, I guess you’ll never know whether or not that pinch of imported pepper actually made your dish a culinary masterpiece. People will say what you want to hear (disregarding the family members and friends with no emotional awareness and regard).
With that in mind, even if guests do not express their dissatisfaction with the overcooked fish, they are still dissatisfied. Enjoying the food is important. Mintz makes a good point about people being important. Nobody is arguing with that, but that doesn’t mean that food is irrelevant.
Could you imagine putting up with the craziness of extended family without engaging in boundless, shameless gluttony at the end of it all? Seeing family and friends is nice, but so is eating a great meal with them. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. One of the best feelings in the world is sitting around a table with the people you care about enjoying great food and great conversation. Food is a social lubricant and a medium of communication and exultation.
So, do the guests matter?
Do you’re guests enjoy being entertained?
And should you care about what you make them?
Food isn’t EVERYTHING in hosting people… but it’s pretty important.