Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The kitchen buffet

Honestly, what difference does it make if you serve the food family style, from a side board, or hanging from a circus high wire in a tutu while ladling gazpacho into shot glasses?

Etiquette texts of the old and dusty school will say absolutely not; get a staff! Alright, in the real world however, the staff often fails to report for duty (I sometimes wonder if they were only pithy imaginary British gents, anyway) and the food has to get from vessel to lips with one hostess and a house full of guests who seem, at least outwardly, capable enough to have read and responded to an invite, and followed directions to the house; therefore being presumably competent to amass food on a flat surface and get it to their mouth without insurmountable obstacle, all the while chatting on about that messy business in Bedford Garden Club (or, er, what have you).

I dare say, it is fine to put the food up on the counters in the kitchen, next to the plates, silverware, and napkins, and allow the diners or guests to fend for themselves in food-serving. There are times, as in the case of the this supper, with food that needs to be assembled to an individuals preferences (menus involving tortilla's and anything, for example), when the food is perfectly graciously - and more effectively - served in a spotless kitchen.

As a rule, the further the plates will move, the smaller they get (to be lap-friendly) and less precious (fewer tears shed over broken pieces). The same goes for the utensils: No sterling sees light when guests may be returning their own plates to the kitchen; to prevent it ending up in the trash by expensive accident. The napkins remain pressed cloth: Not only because paper is so flimsy, but it is eco-conscious.

Put the food out on the counters. Tell them I said so.

Saturday Night Supper Buffet

Carne Oaxaqueno Tacos with Queso Fresco


EAC said...

I just did this for 13 on Mother's Day. The only recommendation I'd make is to label what the food is (ham & tomato quiche, lemon chicken, wild mushroom risotto, etc.) so that guests know exactly what it is they are putting on their plates. If not, you'll spend your time repeatedly answering the same question, while you could be better attending to your guests needs, say, refilling drink pitchers or whisking up spills.

JMW said...

I will admit that when we serve buffet style, we often use our kitchen counters out of convenience. But, if I ever get the antique sideboard I've been coveting, that will someday change!

Seraph + Splendor said...

We just checked the Joy of Cooking and a tutu (as well as satin ballet slippers) is a REQUIREMENT for serving gazpacho (or any chilled soup for that matter…) It should also be mentioned that we keep our cookbooks in a demon haunted cupboard above our sink and they tend to give misleading advice at times…

home before dark said...

I say whatever works. Although I have been known to use tea towels for napkins (covers more lap space and doesn't require ironing to look good and can respond to a spilled glass of cabernet in a pinch without causing me to get all squinty-eyed about getting that stain out). My son's favorite birthday party for family and his buds was home-made pizza. Made together often in crazy combos and eaten standing up OVER the counters. Only my step mother-in-law felt it too much chaos and would sit alone at the dining room table. (Our dining room and kitchen are all one long room. It wasn't as if she were in Siberia...might have been nicer if she had been). Several years ago I was talking to one of my son's friends who recalled he once ate over 20 pieces of pizza at my house (they were smallish servings and the boys in endless stomach phase). Enjoy yourself and everyone (except a few) will, too!