Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day BBQ

Vegetables hot off the grill in our backyard, Memorial Day weekend, 2011.
This past weekend we had the most amazing barbecue we've ever hosted at our house.   My husband and I couldn't stop telling each other how fantastic is was.  Then we discussed how lame we were for being so pleased with ourselves.

Magical unicorn in our backyard, Memorial Day weekend, 2011.
We didn't have a giant party or even a casual neighborhood affair.  It was just our immediate family with a handful of vegetable kabobs and a plate of grilled sausages.  The most exciting part of the barbecue was the appearance of a unicorn, but that's another story.

What surprised us was that we had so much fun with so little fanfare.  We (ok... I) usually exhaust us both trying to create an elaborate spread for our friends and family when we entertain, but this time was different.

It's easy to blame my overachieving behavior on the fact that I'm from the South and Southerners are known for making LOTS of food for any social occasion.  The truth is more complicated.  I somehow felt that if I didn't go overboard with food preparation then I wasn't doing "enough".  I have a large extended family and when we all get together there are a lot of people to feed.  A lot of people who can EAT.  But there are also a lot of people to help cook.

Of course, my mother can seem to feed 30 or 40 people without blinking an eye.  I guess that's the advantage of experience.  My mother has fed a crowd of people every few months for the past thirty years-- holidays, office parties, and garden club meetings-- but I most definitely am not.   I don't have the right kitchen equipment or recipes or the knowledge to figure out how to prepare enough food for twenty people and get it ready all at the same time.  I don't live in a world where I need to cook for a crowd on a regular basis, so it makes sense that I can't do it well.

When I was single I hosted a Christmas party for about 30 of my closest friends and it took an entire week to prepare the food.  I always loved this party, but there's a reason I hosted such a large event only once a year-- I spent the rest of the year recovering from it.  I hope that as our family grows I'll be able to host large parties with less angst.  I want my children to feel that they can bring friends over for a meal whenever they want to and that there will always be an extra place at the table.  I know it will take years, but I hope to increase my culinary skills as my children-- and their group of friends-- grow.

For now, it's enough to hang out under our orange tree and play with my girls in the sandbox while waiting for my husband to tell me that the sausages have reached the perfect state of crispiness.  Maybe having a husband to do the actual labor of cooking once in a while is one of the keys to success.  All I know is that during our after-dinner walk we smelled the lingering aroma from our barbecue and I was proud that for once the delicious smell drifting through the neighborhood was coming from OUR house.
Sausages on the grill, Memorial Day Barbecue, 2011.