I read a superb New York Times article by Guy Trebay recently with the heading, Guess Who Isn’t Coming to Dinner. In it, Trebay laments (along with Alex Hitz and others), the death of the dinner party and the passing of those who made such an art of them.
Certainly a lot has changed over these past decades, and much of those changes were a detriment to actual face-to-face conversation, let alone sit-down meals with friends. Aside from the usual culprits (i.e., fast food, home entertainment centers, facebook, etc.), I’m guessing that a lot of people these days are simply a bit intimidated by the idea of hosting dinner parties. Fear not, Alex Hitz’s fantastic book My Beverly Hills Kitchen, Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist to the rescue! Go out and get it, and then, if you’re still feeling a bit shaky about the whole thing, take Hitz’s advice and assurance; “…serve chicken potpie and a salad, make sure there’s plenty of wine and keep the lights low. How can it go wrong?”
Chef Hitz, (and we’re keeping our scope narrow here–Hitz has achieved honors in quite a few careers!), grew up in a cosmopolitan home in Atlanta, and his Southern cuisine is a celebration of those classic home cooked and, in some cases, nearly lost Southern recipes, infusing them with a French (think Julia Childs) sensibility. These step by step recipes have been tried and tested dozens of times, Hitz emphasizes, and many over a lifetime, so you can be sure that they are easy enough for anyone to make and good enough to please the palette of even the most sophisticated foodie. We particularly like the chapter, Kitchen Notes, which includes some truly sage advice on getting one’s kitchen in order to make cooking a much more pleasurable process.
As for us, we’re looking forward to hosting our own WIJW Christmas Eve dinner—that is, with help from Chef Hitz. It promises to be a smashing success! Here’s what we’ll be serving:
Our menu was created from the great many recipes you’ll find in Hitz’s book. We’re sure you’ll find a few recipes to suit your own holiday creations! Hitz as thoughtfully provided WIJW with a few images (below) to give us some idea of the delights that await.
Collectively this season, I hope all of our WIJW readers will join us in our efforts to revive the grand old tradition of the dinner party, regaining that “…sense of fun and community” Hitz speaks of, “…gathering people together for good simple food.” (Hitz, New York Times)