Growing up I learned very clear and lasting lessons about one’s responsibilities as a home owner in a neighborhood. Do not be the person with the ugliest yard/house on the street. Don’t be the one with the dog that shits in everybody else’s yard. Keep your kids off everybody else’s ornamental grass. Wave and say “Hi” while walking by or when other people are walking by. And always, always, always, be friendly. If a neighbor is sick or has death in the family, bring food – a casserole is best. If they have embarrassingly loud fights that you’d rather not hear on a Sunday evening you go have a man-to-man or woman-to-woman, mention how it happens to everybody, and maybe if they need some alone time to work through their troubles like grown-ups their kids could come play with yours for a while. If they aren’t taking care of the outdoor appearance, casually mention how sympathetic you are to how overworked/busy they are, and by the way, your teenager wouldn’t mind picking up some extra cash by helping out, or you know a guy who does good work for cheap prices. If they park their car in front of your mailbox all the friggen time, drop in while they’re hosting to mention the inconvenience, oh, I saw that same fancy centerpiece on sale at K-Mart last week too, isn’t it just sweet?
I think you catch my drift.
I’m thinking this rule of friendliness must be a Southern thing though, because the assholes around here skipped straight to throwing golf balls at the house. From what I’ve been able to gather, some number of them have decided we’re too young to actually be good home owners, and maybe I should just move back to the Chicago ghetto and stop bringing down their middle-aged prestige. It’s so rare that I get to pontificate on how much better things are done in the South without either being facetious, being perceived as facetious, or talking about hosting that I should probably be grateful for the opportunity, but instead I’m reminded of another lesson I learned as a kid: under the right circumstances, the dinner table is a torture chamber.
So, when my dirt-covered vine-planting self realized that they’re hurling golf balls at my precious castle, my second response, immediately after the one where I figure out how to get away with burning down everybody else’s house, is to plan a dinner party. Nothing manages shock and awe better than showing a bunch of middle-aged ninnies that I can work too much, spend most of my time out of town, and still have a more comfortable house with a tastier spread than they’ve ever managed. Judging from neighborhood noise on the weekends I’m up against beer, brats, and football, which while undeniably alluring to the locals, is so very easily out-classed.
My menu instincts start with doing unholy things to shrimp and bacon for the appetizer, French Onion soup (which isn’t done properly in this state so far as I can tell) something slow-cooked and heavily seasoned in the middle and more unholy concoctions involving confections inside crepes, but it occurred to me that this would be a great time to do something different from what I normally would when aiming for shock and awe. I found a fabulous looking South African dinner menu earlier, but why stop with what Google provides when I have 2.3* people reading my very own blog? Come on, 2.3 people, what do you suggest?
My cooking tends to specialize in desserts and stews, so I’m particularly open to other areas of suggestion, but I’ll welcome anything tasty. I think I shall spend at least a portion of the intervening weekends trying out said recipes to find a menu that works well together. If anybody seems to care I’ll post results.
*Made this number up for comedic affect.