Just thinking about fixing food for a chef is more than a little intimidating.
Even though the chef is my friend Liz and she wouldn't mind what I served her, I'm an amateur. I really don't do much cooking and Liz is a culinary school grad.
She has worked in the restaurants of Walt Disney World and filmed episodes of TV shows with cooking personality Katie Brown.
She is a hostess extraordinaire.
She attends to the smallest details to create a delectable dining experience for her friends.
At her gatherings, she toasts her own pita chips, sprinkled with sea salt. She sets out little pots of homemade olive tapenade and sun-dried tomato hummus. She has a never-ending repertoire of sparkling beverages that complement her creative menus.
Although I'm a kitchen warrior when it comes to baking, I have just one pasta recipe in my cooking arsenal that could pass as a main dish.
When Liz was in town for a visit recently, I offered to organize a get-together that included a third friend of ours.
I gave them the option of lunch at my house or meeting at a restaurant (which I was secretly pulling for), but they both said they'd love to come to my place.
Resisting the urge to call for take-out, I flipped through my recipe file for inspiration.
I decided to serve a quiche filled with spinach, scallions and smoked Gouda, skewers with tortellini and fresh mozzarella, and slices of carrot bread.
But I soon felt like I’d bitten off more than I could chew when I went shopping for ingredients the day before my lunch and the grocery store was out of scallions for the quiche.
The produce manager suggested I substitute leeks. I wasn’t sure I even knew what leeks looked like as he pointed me in the direction of enormous-looking green onions.
I wasn’t feeling very confident about them as I sliced, but the quiche came out of the oven with the circles of leeks nicely browned and crusty on the top.
I filled glasses with sparkling water and a splash of cranberry-pomegranate juice, garnished with fresh slices of lime.
I was ready for my guests.
Liz arrived harried and distressed about losing her credit card while trying to pick up a hostess gift for me on the way to my house.
As I poured her a drink while she made a few phone calls, I suddenly realized that the afternoon wasn't about me at all or the food I planned to serve.
It was about providing a warm welcome and a place of relaxation for my very good friends, who have often done the same for me.
When I leave one of Liz's gatherings, I enjoy the delectable edibles, but it's her generous hospitality that I remember long afterwards.
The afternoon spent at my house was full of girlfriend catch-up chitchat.
Liz complimented the quiche and told me she likes leeks even better than scallions. I didn't have to serve a culinary delight worthy of a chef.
My friends weren't expecting five-star cuisine. My expectations were self-imposed.
I would have regretted letting my lack of culinary skills stop me from hosting my friends. The food and drinks don’t play the starring roles.
Real-life face-to-face conversations and enjoying the company of friends are what’s worth savoring.
And I’m discovering that food and friendship shared around the table can be a delicious feast for my soul.
Regardless of who's cooking in the kitchen.
I'm linking up over at (in)courage today. Click here to read more posts about sharing your heart when you gather around the table!