When I haven't spent time with someone in a long time, holding a conversation can be intimidating.
It's been almost an entire week since my last post. Unfortunately, my pre-holiday workload has been exhausting. I've been faced with: looming pre-2005 work deadlines, tiring holiday parties, maniacal Christmas shoppers at the mall, needing to robotically scour Craigslist to find a new place, and packing and moving thousands of boxes with rock-solid junk.
Whew! But I haven't forgotten about the faithful friends of Passionate Eater. I am going to make "time stand still" to discuss a meal that I have been meaning to write about for over two weeks: the meal I had at my friend's "corporate" holiday party. It will definitely be a stark contrast to the holiday potluck at my work--which is well . . . let's just say very, very anti-corporate.
As I've indicated in some of my previous posts, I have been trying to glean "entertaining" ideas from my friends, the television, and various magazines to prepare for some parties that my companion and I have in the works. The "corporate" holiday party was a way for me to scrutinize (and criticize) how high-powered and well-paid executives like to be fed at their get-togethers, and also it was an excellent forum for me to blatantly rip off good ideas from fancy caterers.
One table I paid particular attention to, was the crudité table. Usually, for my own entertaining purposes, I just arrange cleaned vegetables in concentric circles on a large serving platter. Okay, not very original, and I'll admit I get my inspiration from Safeway / Vons. Plus, I usually just use celery and carrots. (Again, not particularly innovative, but it gets the job done.) That's why I was impressed with the "corporate" spread of jicama, three colors of sliced bell peppers, turnips, multi-colored radishes, and baby carrots--and these weren't the pre-peeled, pre-washed, and bulk-packaged baby carrots that have their edges chemically sanded off! The carrots still had their tops and looked "natural"!
The next table that I vigorously inspected, had a selection that actually wasn't that appealing to me as an "entertaining snack." I love dim sum, but there is inevitable "weird" feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever dim sum is not being eaten for breakfast. Example: Imagine eating oatmeal or Lucky Charms and milk for dinner. See? It's kinda wrong.
Also, I was taught to eat dim sum in moderation, and only sneak petite bites of each dumpling between prolonged sips of tea. Wolfing down a bundle of those dumplings can be a nightmare to my rapidly inflating waste line.
However, just because I probably wouldn't serve dim sum when entertaining my own guests, didn't mean that I didn't load up on the tasty buns like I hadn't eaten in five days.
Another "note to self" I made during the "corporate" party, was not to serve communal soufflé.
I also really liked the idea of serving "one" piece of seafood with vibrant flavors and vivid garnishes--like a scallop or oyster served on the half-shell with a sprig of mint and lemon zest, or one tail-on shrimp encrusted with black and white sesame seeds.
Okay, now I officially hate Corporate America! They can afford to hire caterers to hand-mold sushi for them at their buffet tables!
But my hatred and jealously was partly redeemed by a tremendous entertaining faux pas--at least in my eyes: the dreaded and contaminated chocolate fountain. I call it, "the breeding ground for disease."
I never understood the appeal of a chocolate fountain. Just seeing filthy hands reaching towards the sloppy brown sludge that is sliding down a hot metal tower makes me nauseous to the point blacking out.
By the way, the hand on the left is mine.