Italian for Friends: Anatomy of a Dinner Party

Until recently, I had scarcely broken in the kitchen of my new apartment.

Lack of skill?


Lack of motivation?


Then three old friends came to town.

Ah, motivation.

Out with the recipe box, out with the implements, out with the ingredients.

No ingredients.

Shopping trip.



Realize the blender has gone on to a better place.

More shopping.


Choose a blender, and ooh – new plates? Matching bowls? A bigger, better, baking dish? New mixing bowls? Squid skewer?

Get hold of self, repeating: “I loathe shopping, even in Target’s kitchen section.”


Check the time. 

(Looking good, no problem.)

Set the stereo and go.

Mozzarella, ricotta and an egg – oh, boy!

Blend of spices.

Too thick for a hand mixer – use a spoon.

Beat, beat, beat.

Pick up arm.


Beat, beat, beat.

Begin stuffing cheese mixture into shells.

Recognize the three cardinal rules of cooking Italian:

  1. The phone will ring when you’re up to your wrists in cheese.
  2. There’s no way you can wash up before it stops ringing.
  3. Ricotta may be tasty, but it’s hell on a Motorola.

Break in blender by making Ultra-Secret Tomato Sauce.

(Admit to self that there is very little actually secret about Ultra-Secret Tomato Sauce.)

Spoon Ultra-Secret Tomato Sauce all about.

Clean up excess, make memo to wash these clothes tonight. 

(Make additional memo to buy an apron.)

Prepare to make espresso.

Realize espresso machine hasn’t been cleaned in an age and a half.

Decide to substitute coffee strong enough to kill a small child.

Set the child-killing coffee to brew.

Pull out the mascarpone.

Crack open the rum.

Pull out the powdered sugar.

Realize that powdered sugar must have been right next to light brown sugar on the grocer’s shelf.


Drive to store, get powdered sugar.

Return, remarking – not for the first time – how nice it is to live in a town where everything is so close by.

Mascarpone, powdered sugar, rum – beat, beat, beat.

Remember that rum has other uses besides cooking.

In a better mood, resume cooking.

Heavy whipping cream, chilled bowl.

Realize this calls for a hand mixer.

Rejoicing, whip out the hand mixer.

Black & Decker: a grip like a drill and lots and lots of watts.

Oh, yeah.


Fold in mascarpone/rum/sugar, resulting in wondrous cream.

Rum the coffee.

Layer the ladyfingers.

Brush the ladyfingers with rummed, child-killing coffee.

Layer the wondrous cream.






Remember – at this, the last minute – that no appetizer has been made.

Check inventory.

Find not enough of the right things lying around for marinara and breadsticks.

Remember – about the time the doorbell is ringing – that a simple butterfly pasta with garlic and butter is very easy to make, and these ingredients are on hand. 

Make garlic butter butterfly pasta, pretending this was your intent all along.




Muse whether there is anything better than a meal well received.

Realize the answer when friends offer to do dishes.

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