People love to complicate things, I have found, even something as simple as the color white. Have you ever been to the paint section of a home improvement store? Well, no, of course I have never been to one but my decorator assures me there are 413 variations on the color white. I like variety as much as the next lady, but that is positively excessive – and I generally favor excess. However, I can overlook paint samples, mostly due to the fact that I don’t bother with that sort of nonsense, but I cannot overlook food infractions. It’s like those ridiculous cocktails people are constantly inventing; why destroy perfectly good gin with rosemary-infused Tahitian Manatee tears? If you do, you will have gin-infused Mrs. de Plume tears with which to make your next concoction.
But I am getting ahead of myself; we were discussing food.
I went to a charming anniversary party at the beach a few months back. Everyone donned 1920s summer linens (getting it almost right) and twirled parasols while sipping gin blossoms and champagne. The tuxedoed wait staff passed tidbits about for us to keep sated: mushrooms stuffed with flaked fish and garlic, sausages wrapped in delicate pastry, endive decorated with some frothy mousse running down the center – it looked marvelous. There is a small hiccup in this menu, however, Naomi de Plume does not touch food with a bare hand unless she is running her chocolate-dipped fingers down the chiseled chest of a willing participant (well, alright, they don’t need to be willing as long as they are bound.) As I scoffed at the suggestion that I load up a small square of tissue that constituted a napkin with food begging to adorn the lapel of every guest in attendance, the little wait person perkily presented me with a bowl congealed gravy substance exclaiming “It has sauce!” So does a double entendre, darling, but there is a time and a place.
So although I will not be passing a pu-pu platter outside of an excuse to see a man in a batik sarong, let’s not let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction either.
A fine meal is a pleasure on every level. I have sucked the marrow from bones soaked in velvety herbed broths and once enjoyed a pudding so delicate, I did not allow anything else in my mouth so as not to ruin the last vestiges of taste lingering on my tongue. The other day I was presented with a structure of thinly sliced filet, fitted around spring vegetables molded into a perfect cylinder and surrounded by a barrier of greens tied tightly with decorative cooking string. It was magnificent looking. And I couldn’t figure out how in heaven’s name to eat it.
Fortunately I was not alone. The duchess across from me spent no less that a half hour trying to work the tine of her fork into the beautiful little bow before she gave up and began surreptitiously eating the centerpiece. The senator on the hostess’ left tried his entree from every angle before plunging his knife with some force into the center of the parcel. The knife’s tip broke and lodged in his eye, which required an ambulance and an overnight stay at the local hospital; where at least he ate. More than one of those little meat bundles was launched to the other side of the table as if we were Alexander the Great’s army sieging Tyre. The attorney seated at the end of the table finally wrapped his up in his napkin and put it in his wife’s purse.
Clever is for conversation, not for canapés. And fingers should be licked as a reward, not because the cofit has made it impossible to hold the riding crop. My point is, darlings, when it comes to food, unlike high fashion, form should follow functionality.