So then…I toss a couple toys behind the couch and shove the countertop contents into the junk drawer, just as the doorbell rings.
“They’re here! They’re here!” I shout, racing for the door.
But I’m the only one dashing, since my 1st grader Tucker is engrossed in his Legos-Hot Wheels concoction and not nearly as excited about this playdate as I am.
I’m eager to make new friends at his new school, for him AND for me, so I took the plunge and invited Carla and her son Steven over this weekend for lunch and playtime.
I open the door and they spill into the house, Steven running over to Tucker and his toys – Carla trailing me to the kitchen.
We chat amiably while I putter around, taking out dishes, turning on the oven. I love hosting people at my house, but I’m always anxious about what to serve – I’m worried they may not like it or I didn’t cook it long enough.
But I know today will be a homerun because I served this same lunch to my family last week and they loved it!
I place ham and cheese on French bread wedges, then slide them into the oven to get all warm and toasty.
I turn around with a flourish and a smile – only to see Carla’s face fall.
Uh-oh. What’s up?
I’m talking FANCY DELUXE ham (no Oscar Mayer, people!)
and FANCY DELUXE cheese (no Velveeta slices, y’all!)
and FANCY DELUXE French bread (no Wonder bread sandwich slices, friends!)
We’re talking PRIMO sandwich fixin’s! And I’m TOASTING them in the OVEN!
I even have regular mustard for the kids and FANCY DELUXE Grey Poupon for the moms.
Carla says, “Uh…we’re Jewish so we don’t eat ham.”
Ack. Blunder #1.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” I blurt.
“Well, no, I mean…I’m not sorry you’re Jewish! I’m sorry I’m serving ham!” I say.
I quickly grab the remaining French bread. “How about just cheese then?” I ask brightly. “Kinda like a grilled cheese sandwich on French bread?”
Carla grimaces. “Well, it’s just that Steven is lactose-intolerant…”
Ack. Blunder #2.
Omigod. Now I’m panicking because my fridge and cupboards are not well-stocked, so I don’t have a lot of choices.
I fling open the pantry door and pull out every kid’s favorite: Peanut butter!
Carla’s expression says it all…
I sigh, resigned. “He’s allergic to peanuts, isn’t he?” I ask.
Ack. Blunder #3.
“Oh, OK, heh, heh,” I say, laughing weakly. “I guess that leaves us with the French bread. So how does he feel about toast?”
(If she says he has a gluten-free diet, I will commit hari-kari with this spatula right now.)
She smiles. “Toast is fine.”
I quickly scour the kitchen for side dishes and come up with grapes, baby carrots, and Oreos (which are a HUGE hit, by the way.)
And so, as I serve our first 1st-grade playdate toast, I cycle through these emotions:
1) I am the worst hostess in the world.
2) If her kid has this many dietary restrictions, couldn’t she maybe give me a heads up when accepting a lunch invitation? Come on, Carla, help a sister out! If my kid had these restrictions, I’m so obsessive, I’d probably travel with a constant supply of doctor-approved, rabbi-approved foods in individual hermetically-sealed packages, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice! Or at least I’d mention it when accepting an invitation to a meal!
3) What kind of rookie am I that I don’t have a few alternatives available like turkey or pasta, for Pete’s sake? And would it kill me to ASK guests if they have any dietary needs when I invite them to a meal? Get with the program, Darcy!
But as I watch Tucker and Steven laugh and talk and run and play – I realize what’s really important:
the “Day I Served My Guests Toast” is also the “Day Tucker Made a New Friend at His New School.” And that’s all that matters.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any culinary catastrophes on your playdates? Or food-related faux pas with guests at your parties, BBQs, or dinners? One time I put BBQ sauce on chicken breasts and BAKED them – and they all came out a weird shade of PINK so all my guests skipped that dish on the buffet table! Share any funny moments from your parties or playdates!)