- Normally, just before a party, I'm so stressed that I am incapable of enjoying myself or letting anyone in my household enjoy themselves. Luckily, I had my meltdown a couple of weeks ago, so it wasn't necessary. By the weekend of the actual get-together, it wasn't even a thing.
- Everyone brought stuff. Normally, when you say "bring a side dish" or "wear a costume" or "be prepared to discuss your favorite 14th-century African ruler," you can expect limited participation. Five cartons of potato salad, "I'm dressed as a party guest," and a rant about that time you watched Shaka Zulu. This time, I think there might have been one person who showed up very late who didn't bring something, which was okay because by that time the cooking was well underway. And the things that people brought were truly wonderful, my personal favorite being the salmon heads recursive brought and turned into soup. Couscous, lotus root, oysters, fennel - people brought some amazing stuff.
- Everyone was enthusiastic about the concept. I now know the practical limits of the number of people my kitchen can hold. About eleven people, only seven of whom can be in motion. We made a lot of extra prep space and the chefs made good use of the sous chefs, and everyone else was just piling into the kitchen to see how the chefs would pull it off. It was exciting and interesting and really, really fun.
- My friends are phenominally creative. mortaine's husband put together a spectacular dish of bananas, dried cranberries and rum, as well as a very tasty couscous and kale dish. recursive made both a fabulous sort of vera cruz-y fish soup and a lovely basil, tomato and goat cheese salad. pirateguillermo made an eggplant-tomato curry that made me weep with joy. This is one of those times where reality is brought home to me in a big way. I normally like to think of myself as a smart person who knows her way around the kitchen, but I was humbled and awed by what my friends came up with.
- The night ended with a few people staying late and playing a fun game of Munchkin. Nobody got drunk and had a messy break-up in front of the house. Nobody vomited (to my knowledge). Nobody started a fight. I'm an adult now and these things seem like they might be good things.
In short, thank you to everybody who came, cooked, judged, ate, laughed, hung out. It was a phenomenal birthday.