Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Crudite Party: The Wilderness Years

In conversations with other hosts and hostesses I have become fearless about making outrageous statements, such as "Crudite is enough."

And then with raised eyebrows and ever-widening American girths, everyone wonders what on earth would cause me to feed the guests only food suited to figure-obsessed rabbits.

Risking my reputation and willing to become a six gun entertainer of the wild-west type in defending a party type which has very much fallen off in popularity in American homes, I will step into this breech.

Martha Stewart demonstrated in her first book, Entertaining (Clarkson Potter, 1982) that the crudite party was indeed both possible and magnificent with her all-crudite party on the lawn of the Copper-Hewitt.

(Further, I believe she was correct in noting the word "dip" as one gracious entertainers are stuck with; what other word have we? I cannot utter it without the notion of a Super Bowl party crashing violently and gracelessly into my consciousness... but anything else is inaccurate.)

Stewart's crudite party in 1982 was not genius for the selection of fruit, blanched vegetables, dips, crackers, and cheeses. While the food is both - here I go again - plenty for cocktail hour and and easy for guests to consume while holding a glass, the genius of crudite is in the color and texture of the presentation. As it always should be when presenting crudite; festive, colorful, and in immense mountains of varying textural beauty.

The absolute key is to have a lot of food; huge wheels of cheese mixed with blocks and wedges as well as a veritable sierra of crackers, crostini, and toasts.

The crudite presented can be as easy as mounds of ripe fruit and blanched vegetables, or the masterful employ of Japanese carving techniques.

In either case, I dare say, everyone will love it. But none more than the host who never has to return to the kitchen to check on the state of affairs with the hot food service, no?

photo credits:,


LindsB said...

Such a great post- I'm busy planning the menu for my halloween party and I'm trying to figure out a menu that wont put me in the kitchen all night. This might be the perfect answer.

Marsha said...

I agree that crudite can be enough, providing the presentation is lovely and done with care. Sad pre-cut carrots with that white-ish film are not doing a hostess (or her guests) any favors. I've never thought that one had to offer dozens of different snacks but what is offered must be excellent. With the rise of supermarket pre-packed "trays" and pre-cut cheese and the like, I worry.