Sunday, 2 March 2008

dinner parties

One of my long-standing fantasies involves a dinner party. A rather specific one. For years, I've been compiling a guest list of the most interesting people I've met, and even though they're all over the world, one day I hope I can get them all in the same room. And when I do, I will feed them, because there is something about making food for people. And for those of you who know an obsessive cook, there is something about people who know how to be gracious dinner guests. Such people make me very very happy, and tend to get several cakes over the course of week-long visit... I really do have dreams about this. Occasionally, I even buy a lottery ticket. But for the time being, I have to settle for introducing people to each other when geography allows. Here's a dinner from one such introduction that took place in one of my favorite apts to stay at in Montreal (the people who live there are soooo fun to cook for) and a good friend from out of town, plus a mystery girl. It was one of those magic-tinged nights of good conversations, lovely people, yummy food, and just enough wine and chili to counteract winter. Greens (cumin, asafoetida, chili, onions, chickpea flour), ginger dal (red lentils and green peas cooked in tumeric and whole garlic cloves and cashews, with mustard seeds, onions, black pepper and lots and lots and lots of ginger fried up and added at the end, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice just before serving), coconut-lime-coriander chutney. Deep dark chocolate cake (2 smallish blocks tofu, 1.5 cups maple syrup, 3/4 cup cocoa, 1 bar worth of chocolate chunks (minus "quality control"), cardamom, pepper, flour...I didn't measure it... sorry, baking powder, salt) topped with caffeine-attack sludge (cocoa, maple syrup, espresso, cardamom).

Last night was a bit calmer. Only two of us. I was cooking for more, and I must say that my dinner guest held up admirably under the barrage of food. I was just trying out some fun stuff... sour potatoes (potatoes and parsnip in tamarind, tomato paste, tomato, green chili, onions, garlic, fenugreek, raisins, and fresh coriander) and tofu and spinach (roasted cumin and coriander, nutmeg, ground cashews, ginger/garlic paste, jalapeno, salt) on red jasmine rice. It was one of those long lazy evenings, so there were also leek mini pancakes (leeks, flour, curry powder, baking soda) with tamarind sauce. There was also a dazzling array of pickes, plus the lentil dessert. And gin.


Tambra said...

Hi Sinead! I just stumbled across your blog, and I'm so glad I did. I'm vegan, have been for a couple of years now, but your post about time really struck me. I've had the same thoughts, in particular about the parallels between the meat industry and how women are viewed. Feminists that vehemently fight sexism but don't even think about how their dinner oppresses another being bother me, and your post just stood out to me.
I also love how you describe your meals, and your cooking process.
Anyway- I just wanted to thank you for putting your thoughts "out there". And also for the picture of the chocolate cake. I want!

sinead said...

Thanks! I'm glad you stumbled across my blog too. About the time thing...sexism and speciesism aren't so different. I *do* find it disturbing how people can fight so passionately against one particular oppression without seeing that other forms are related, and that there is a common mindset that is present in all oppressions. Et bien. We all tend to get bogged down in the minutiae/particularities of what we're concerned about right this minute, and I certainly have to make a concious effort to step back and look at the different things I'm involved in (some more actively than others at any point in time: feminism, gender stuff, queer stuff, veganism, general nerdyness, environmental/anticonsumerist stuff...) and see how they all fit together.

As for the chocolate cake: it's easy! make it! Then you'll have a chocolate cake AND a kitchen that smells like chocolate cake! If you need a more detailed recipe than I gave, I think this is based extremely loosely on one of the PPK recipes. I tend to read cookbooks like novels, and then my brain mixes it all up, but it seems to me that's where I got the "vast amounts of maple syrup + tofu" idea.