It has happened to me at last. It was both dreaded and heavily anticipated. No, not a first set of multiple orgasms but something equally enticing. I got my invitation from the perfectly-too-perky sisters to the pampered chef party. I am now officially invitation worthy. I am no longer a child but an invitation garnering colleague. A real live grown up who might actually have need for a $30 garlic press. Oh the elation I feel at this moment. But wait…I can’t actually afford to buy anything at this sort of highbrow event. I am the struggling mother of an infant. Not only do I avoid cooking anything that involves using fresh and therefore both delicate and expensive ingredients, but also I need to strive to live off of whatever low calorie frozen entree is on sale at the grocery store so that I can continue deluding myself about wearing those pre-pregnancy jeans again. Ugh, the pressure… But I have an invitation. Does this mean I have to make something? Would one of those cream cheese infested tortilla wraps be classy enough? I wonder how the status lines will be drawn at this shindig?
For the pampered chef virgins out there, let me enlighten you… Some brilliant entrepreneur found a way to market fairly useless and overpriced kitchen products to women who feel like everything they do both public and private is some sort of competition. Thus, if you are enlisted to attend one of these soirees be prepared to ooh and ash over odd kitchen utensils that you may not be at all familiar with. Key to this sort of female competition is to feel like a total ass when you can’t identify what a particular item is used for. For instance, if you don’t know that a strange surgical steel scoop like implement is actually a meatball mold you may fold too early…There are much bigger bear traps ahead. Even the hostess of this event probably didn’t know what it was until she memorized the catalog an hour before the party. Besides, what sort of too much time on their hands pea brain actually molds or for that matter even makes their own meatballs?
The competitive gen x-er knows that anyone with that kind of time on their hands is just feeling useless because they don’t have a real career anyway. If they were actually keeping up with the real mommy pro’s they wouldn’t be making meatballs from scratch they would be whipping up authentic sushi and making their own seaweed flavored ice-cream.
But I digress, back to the party. If you are one of the inner-circle of invitees, you will be asked to bring some sort of edible to this party. Try to offer up an item early… I highly recommend cheese and fresh fruit on a platter. A special twist to make it just so will be required to truly impress but it is much safer than trying to actually cook something that will be discussed later by the other party victims. A master stroke on the fruit and cheese platter is to do something simple but unexpected such as carve out a pineapple and then shove a lot of the fresh fruit back into the shell of the fruit so that it flows out. It looks pretty, is easy to do and dresses up the whole dish. Besides, as expensive as fresh pineapple can be in New England, it has to be cheaper than playing impress the crowd with a great wine selection.
Now on to the nitty-gritty details of the event. You have arrived with food and have been ushered into a chair. Probably some dining room chair pushed into the living room. The people who throw these parties always seem to have nice houses and white carpeting. Don’t spill anything but don’t fall apart if you do. After all, if they were as hoity-toity as they wanted you to believe, would they really be throwing a party where they get a cut? It all just reeks of the poker parties my dad’s blue-collar crowd would throw in the 1970’s. The house would get a cut to cover the cost of Doritos, beer and clam dip.
The real challenge isn’t the implement guessing game it’s the order taking. You see the way these products get sold is by psychology. The guests begin to feel obligated to buy something because they have just sat there chewing on hors d’oeuvres and drinking wine. You have managed to brag a bit about your kids, husband and job. Now comes the payback for all those exaggerations. You wind up purchasing a bunch of kitchen shit you will likely never use for more money than anyone but a Parisian chef should be spending just so you can live the fantasy you have been weaving to the crowd.
You see, over the last hour and a half you have been sipping wine spritzers and pretending that your loving husband encourages you to get out of the house, spend your money and truly enjoys your off the cuff gourmet cooking. By now, you either have actually talked yourself into this fantasy or you are walking the plank in dread as you order the garlic press, cast iron cookware and special bunt pan. Oh fuck. What is a couple of hundred dollars you don’t have to spend when you are trying to impress greedy co-workers and complete strangers? At least as you drive away with that churning feeling in the pit of your stomach you can smile about the freebies your hostess racked up in the course of an evening.
I so miss the naughty nighty parties. At least after one of those events I came away with some overpriced massage lotion and a waterproof vibrator. What the hell can you really do with a garlic press in the shower? Please don’t ask my husband, he would probably have a suggestion.