Those of you who love and defend Gwyneth, who don't understand why people keep picking on Gwyneth like ALL THE TIME, why, why, why? you may want to skip this post. Move along now, fans! Nothing to see here! This one's for the rest of us.
Okay, are they gone? Good. This one's for those of us with jobs and children but no hired help and no money for a fishmonger who delivers. This is for those of us who don't have time/money/paid staff to whip up roasted red peppers with anchovies, escarole salad, and pasta with duck ragout for an intimate dinner with your celebrity friends.
I'd like to introduce you to the Anti-Gwyneth: Ines de la Fressange, French lady, former model, and the daughter of a Marquess. You hate her already, right? But don't! Sure, she's another hopelessly wealthy, effortlessly stylish woman, but I think you're going to like her idea of a fun, low-maintenance dinner party.
Ines has a new book out called Parisian Chic. It's mostly about clothes and shopping but there is a little chapter on throwing a dinner party. Hers is a bit fancier than hot dogs and potato chips -- I mean, she is French and all. But it still sounds do-able for working moms. I love her philosophy.
People come to your home to spend time with you, not to savor a gourmet meal -- leave that to the professionals.
2 hours before the party starts: Buy a chicken on your way home from work. Shuffle through the living room filled with "newspapers and children's stuff."
90 minutes: Put the chicken in a pot with whatever you can find. Ines suggests "curry, coriander, thyme," and a "generous slosh of olive oil." Stir it, put it in the oven, pick up the living room a little, and take a bath.
1 hour: Cover the table with a dark-colored tablecloth and black plastic plates. Have your children decorate the table with whatever their creative little minds come up with.
30 minutes: No fancy cocktails. Just set out some wine bottles, plus water and juice for the non-drinkers.
They're here: Serve your friends sesame bread sticks, cherry tomatoes, and baby veggies piled into glasses. And now my favorite part: "Keep your guests hungry! The longer they wait, the more they'll tell you how delicious everything is."
1 1/2 hours later: Start cooking some basmati rice.
After 2 hours: Now serve the chicken with rice.
After 3 hours: Serve some ice cream.
Et voila! I guess Ines doesn't have small children over very often, because this isn't going to work for kids. But still, her dinner party game plan is such a reality check: just do the bare minimum you have to without stressing yourself out.
As with fashion and decor, when it comes to entertaining, less is more. Don't overdo it and the atmosphere will be more relaxed. That gives you time to come out of the kitchen and enjoy entertaining.
I think I've just found my new favorite domestic goddess.
Image via Amazon