I could not love my friends more than I do right now.
They are, every single one of them, the kind of people that rise to a challenge. They don’t ask why; they don’t mumble excuses; they just commit. Wigs and sixties attire for Veronica’s bachelorette? Check. (We’re still completing the scavenger hunt.) Dispensing unsolicited advice at the Cooke Street Carnival? Wigs again? No problem. Cooking bacon for 300 strangers? What time should I show up? Bar Bingo for PJ’s birthday? You bring the wigs, and the guys will share. Kirby Derby? Next year we are racing.
So tonight it was an Intimidating Food party. The goal is to make something which scares you a little bit. The theme changes every time, but tonight we were celebrating my new turntable. Everyone had to bring a dish based on a song, and preferably, bring the song.
Well. It was crazy good. Earlier in the week, it was looking like we’d have nothing but assorted desserts and cocktails. As Julia said, “It’s exactly what teenage Julia hoped adulthood would be like!” But by the time the crowd arrived, we had some of everything.
Rodney and Ed brought homemade potato chips, sliced on a mandoline and flavored three different ways (song: Vio Con Me, Paolo Conti). Veronica and Jason brought hot burritos (song: Hot Burrito # 1 and Hot Burrito # 2, Flying Burrito Brothers) and amazing beer-barbecued chicken (song: Dixie Chicken, Little Feat.) Karl brought Beef Wellington (movie: Gangs of New York, Karl does not play by the rules, but it was so good we counted it anyway.)
Alison and Scott, who were recruited to the party with three hours’ notice, showed up from Durham with chili AND the appropriate album (song: Hot Stuff, Donna Summer). Lovisa and Nate brought sweet potato gnocchi with caramelized onions and peach sauce (song: Peaches, The Presidents of the United States of America) and raspberry jalepeno soup in little shot glasses. Good heavens. Tate brought black-eyed pea salad (song: Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks.)
And then there were the desserts. Have mercy. Chrisy brought raspberry ice cream sandwiches (song: Raspberry Beret, Prince) and Lemon Cake (song: The Lemon Song, Led Zeppelin). Julia brought peach moonshine pies (song: White Lightening, George Jones) and JJ and PJ brought cherry pie (Bye Bye Miss American Pie, Don MacLean).
A couple of standouts, in a field of outstanding dishes: Anna and Andrew, first-timers at Intimidating Food Parties, showed up with this gorgeous rainbow cake (song: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland). Anna showed up in full Judy Garland attire. She dyed her hair for the occasion. That, friends, is what I mean by commitment to a costume. I loved it.
Best album of the evening was, hands-down, Erin and Richard’s choice, shown in this kind of fuzzy picture:
“We are totally doing that. I HAVE WHIPPED CREAM.”
I got a few raised eyebrows.
“What.” I said.
Their dish, a fruit chocolate pizza, involved most of the foods mentioned in the album. A commendable effort.
I stopped awarding prizes ages ago. I used to be a teacher, and I always want everyone to win. I saved this one for last, though, because- wow. Just, wow.
Audrey and Jeff made Moon Pies (song: RC Cola and a Moon Pie, NRBQ). I mean, made the cookies, and made the marshmallows (coughThreeTimescough) and then assembled these perfect little treats. If that’s not labor intensive enough for you, may I add, they also made cola.
For real. They made RC. It’s phenomenal. It has things like star anise and lavender and nutmeg and twenty-something other ingredients. They made their own labels. I asked Audrey how hard it was to make cola from scratch, and she said, “Well, I didn’t want to run from store to store looking for RC. I thought it would be easier to make my own.”
Again. I just plain love my friends.
My dish turned out fine; I made peach pecan ice cream, and key lime pie ice cream, in little cones. I’m not wild about ice cream, but I loved my song: Happiness, from the Charlie Brown record I just found at my parents’ house. It starts, “Happiness is two kinds of ice cream,” so that’s what I did. It’s not about the food, though; that’s just a good excuse to get people together and get people talking. Seeing my little house so full of friends that there’s no room to set more food down, and people have to scooch sideways to get from room to room, is just good for the soul; regulars, and first-timers, and people you’ve never met before who are good sports and turn up with food and play DJ.
The Charlie Brown song has been stuck in my head all week, of course. It ends with “Happiness is singing together when day is through, and happiness is those who sing with you.” Perfect.
Next food party: Campfire Cooking. As soon as the weather gets cold. Umstead Park. I’ll keep you posted. You should come.