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Dinner guests in England


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I cooked a very french meal yesterday. Since I have been back it has surprised me how much crockery and cutlery I get through when cooking to my now UK guests.

Mopping the plate clean with bread, or even eating bread with the main meal simply not done, even if we do.

I have had to double the amount of knives and forks we own. And people must have plates changed between courses too. I admit if I was doing a fish starter then I would always have changed things, but never for a salade compose which I am fond of as a starter.

The amount of washing up for few is huge, my current table only fits 11, so that is all I have cooked for so far. But when I cook for 11, you'd think I'd cooked for well over twenty. In fact in France I often would cook for over 20, but I haven't got enough plates and cutlery to cook  for so many here AND just the thought of having to wash up between courses is plain wrong, I am finishing my main dish then, and should not doing the dishes, simply, I'm not a resto, I like to spend time with my guests, and not in my kitchen.

Which brings me to open plan kitchen / dining areas, I just could not bear to have one.  Yesterday, I started cooking with a well organised and tidy kitchen. When I finished, it looked like a bomb has hit it. it didn't matter, it was behind a closed door and no one could see it, especially not me. And when people had gone, we got it all sorted very quickly.

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I used to feel that I wouldn't like a kitchen diner for the same reason but the opportunity to spend time with guests while finish the cooking more than makes up for any mess,  I start with an empty dish washer fill it,  and then put excess dirty dishes in the sink.....below 'see level'

A friend has a Bosch dishwasher with a very efficient 30 minute program and thats what I'll go for next time, which will make it even easier......

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I said something similar about open plan kitchen/diners in my blog a while ago. As we're embarking on the sale of our separately-kitchenned house, I have been fascinated by the sheer numbers of people who seem to want to live their lives either in the kitchen or in one single huge downstairs room with no privacy or escape from kitchen noises and smells, or from each other.

Some people clearly prefer this, but I sometimes wonder why it's so important. I don't believe a bigger kitchen makes a better cook, or a more harmonious family life, or even a better entertaining environment. However, a lot of people do.

Frankly, anyone who has seen me getting hot, sweaty and impatient in my kitchen (and this increases exponentially with the number of people who are in there with me) will see why I am not entirely sold on the open plan concept.

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I certainly don't entertain as much as I used to, but I do love it. I

love doing late lunches, rather than an evening meal. Start eating about

2.30 and just take our time over the courses. People rolling home happy

when they are ready to go home in the evening. And if they stay longer,

I feed them again.

I wouldn't like anyone watching me cook, although I do have a table in my kitchen, but that is for the family.


know people with fancy kitchens, far fancier than mine, but they don't

cook or bake. All for show, that is in France as well as the UK. So I

would need a screen of some sort if I was in the same room cooking, and

my guests'd  hear me swearing too, which wouldn't be nice. I like my

guests to feel pampered, special and relaxed, some things in life just have to have time taken over them, be savoured and enjoyed and at the end feeling very pleasantly satisfied. And that being my goal, being in the room where I

cook would not be a good idea. Once I have the dishes on the table and closed that kitchen door, then I

can relax too.

Ofcourse the trick is never ever to do an english roast for lots of people. It is the hardest cooking I do, it is unforgiving with it's timings and has me stuck to the cooker for far too long. And is so hard to get it all out hot.

Betty, there is nowt as strange as folk, and in this day and age, I suspect many of those that say that they like these open space are probably stuck in small spaces anyway, heads stuck in front of their smart phone or ipad screen.

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In U.K. and France we have to eat in the kitchen. So I usually do a French type meal whichever country I am in.

Starter: bits and pieces rather like the buffet served in the bistros. These little dishes can be prepared in advance and sometimes a great way of using leftovers.

Main: Usually a "one pot" dish such as a tagine which can be prepared ahead of time, served in said dish so no extra washing up, accompanied by pasta, couscous, rice or potatoes (these do have to be done at last minute unless it is a warm potato salad .)

Cheese: Easy enough and a green salad with home-made dressing on the side.

Dessert: A tarte or trois petits desserts / café gourmand

As far as possible I get the guests to use the same plate / cutlery throughout.

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[quote user="Théière"]Lets enter Idun for "Come dine with me" [8-|][/quote]

Good idea [:D] I'm sure you would win Idun!

We rarely have guests for a meal nowadays, I'm getting lazy.

When I was first married we were friends with another couple and took turns to eat at eachother's house.

She was a marvellous cook, a farmer's daughter, and I learnt a lot from her.

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LOL 'Come Dine with Me', I just could never consider going on there, ever.  I can cook and I like cooking, but serving the food and I am a real disaster. I get a wobble on and miss plates. My guests find it hilarious and so do I, as I have been messing up 'service' for as long as I can remember and certainly not down to 'old age'..... just maladroit!

On Sunday, as I had made a very big chocolate roulade, I asked my neighbour that evening, when my guests had gone, if they wanted some. Her son came in and I cut some slices to put onto a plate. The plate was next to the cake plate and where did half a slice end up...... on the floor. It shouldn't have done, but it did.

There are good reasons for me to invite folks. For one, I, well we, as it is all hands on deck, remember to tidy the house and dust properly. Not that it looks like in a magasine when we have finished, but it is OK.  And I can get to grips with cooking lots and lots of food,  as it has to be said that somethings are very hard to cook for two or three, or even four. And I can make at least two puddings and I love puddings. 

I remember inviting people in France for the first time and their trepidation as to what I'd offer them. It always went well and later they would tell me how relieved they had been............ they'd always heard so many bad things about la cuisine anglaise.  Then they used to worry about what they would feed us, and apart from the andouillette when I retched at the table, it was always OK.

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You are more than welcome any time Betty if you are up in this neck of the woods. And no need to bring your own crockery or cutlery. All that sort of stuff, I have masses of now, and that is all clean and un- dusty. I have a dish washer so that is all sorted.

I 'm just very disorganised and messy and house work........... well that'll always keep, but sometimes it has to be done.

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Oh Idun, how glad I am to know that I'm not the only one who needs a reason to do housework.

I've had to clean my house 3 times in 3 weeks because we've had people visiting for the weekend. I'm exhausted!

Cooking is the light relief, though I'm by no means as accomplished as you.

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Personally, I derive great pleasure from doing the things I like doing when there are jobs like general housework to do. I like living like I do, and accept that sometimes I have to get stuck in and get tidied and clean up. Not called 'chores' for nothing, surely[Www]

The rest bof, it'll not kill us to live with some disorder and maybe a bit of dust sometimes.

The only routine I have everyday is, and that is at bedtime, make sure that the doors are locked and the dishwasher is on.

Still, I like my kitchen worksurfaces,  sink and cooking/eating stuff clean though, even though my kitchen isn't often that tidy.......and I like 

bathrooms and toilets clean too. But they actually can just be rubbed

down when I'm in those particular rooms, takes a couple of minutes, not 15.

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 I recently saw a TV feature where they warned against putting the dishwasher on and going to bed because of the fire risk ...but I know a lot of people do it....

 I do try not to let the table get covered in clutter and I've recently  recently decluttered the office/spare room too. I'll tackle our bedroom next, its not too bad but I want to sort out the cupboards and drawers one at a time..........

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