Shopping as Cooking

29 Aug

So today was a big one for the family – it was ZPA’s naming day! She got all dressed up and gorgeous, and the whole family was on hand to celebrate. I knew that when we came back from the ceremony, we would be hungry, and want to eat. But I also knew that the house would be full the night before, making it a tad difficult to sort out any before-hand cooking. When there are two boys sleeping 10 feet away from the kitchen, you dont really want to be banging pots and pans, and frying up stuff. What to do? One of the things I do best… Cook with my credit card 😉

Shopping as cooking is a skill in and of itself. Presenting a meal to people, especially tired, hungry, happy people, is a delicate balance. You want to feed them well, and in a celebratory way, but you also dont want to keep them waiting. They (and you) want to walk in the door and be able to sit down and eat within a few minutes. They also dont want to be totally overwhelmed by a hundred different tastes – so even if you are going to make a spread, you need to edit. Sometimes I do cook ahead meals, but when I cant, I shop for the very best ingredients, wonderful prepared foods, and serve my family’s favourite kind of meal – a spread of breads, cheese, fish, vegetables, fruits and sweets that can be combined into delicious bites – and each person can pick and choose for themselves what they want, and how much they want.

This kind of shopping is something you must go into with forethought. Who are you presenting this meal to? What kind of occasion? How old are the people sitting around the table, and does anyone have allergies, special needs, specific likes or dislikes? If you know someone will be sitting down to eat this meal who has a peanut allergy, then dont serve peanuts in even one thing! A smorgasbord like this is asking for food contamination – dont do it! If you have vegans and vegetarians, cater heavily to them. In my opinion, people will eat loads of vegetarian offerings in a feast like this, and much less of the meats and things like chicken salad.

I love shopping for a feast of this kind because it so closely reflects the process of cooking. When I cook, I think about the people who will eat the meal. I think about their likes and dislikes, the things that they find luxurious, their special quirks. I try and cater to those things because in that service, there is an expression of love. Same thing here. Its a way to show the people you are serving that this is personal to them – and you include not only luxuries, but things that you think might interest or titillate their senses.

Plus, leftovers make a wonderful dinner for an exhausted household!

We were 7 sitting down to eat, ranging from 70 – 11 years old. This is what we had.

  • Fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Fresh sourdough bread
  • Bagels – plain, sesame, everything
  • Smoked salmon, a whole plateful, with sliced lemon and capers
  • Smoked whitefish salad
  • Taramasalata
  • Cream cheese + butter
  • Three different kinds of cheese – a soft ripe brie like cheese, made locally, a sharp cheddar, and a parmesan
  • Quince paste
  • Seaweed salad
  • Hummus
  • Apple cake
  • Fruit salad with greek yogurt
  • Cinnamon mini muffins
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Ice tea
  • Lemonade
  • Coffee

It was a feast, and it was satisfying and delicious.

2 Responses to “Shopping as Cooking”

  1. chrisoro August 29, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    HAppy Naming Day little Z! Hope you’re all having a lovely time together.

    • delectableblog August 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

      Thank you Auntie Chris 🙂 Love you loads x

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