Spills and Thrills

Most Swiss love having guests over for dinner and entertaining and we are no different. Of course with the number of people toasting with red wine and eating tomato sauces and red foods you would expect more things to happen then actually have. Interestingly I can’t really remember our guests doing anything more than spilling wine, which in our house is no biggie. If the tablecloth doesn’t come clean then it wasn’t worth much to start with. When something trivial like that happens we always say “In Scandinavia there is a tradition that at the beginning of a meal the hostess spills some wine on purpose to show the guests it’s okay if that happens”. That might be true, or maybe not. We’re not in Scandinavia, nor are we Scandinavian but it puts our guests at ease and I can spill all the wine I want to.

In contrast to our guests, we have ended up doing some pretty spectacular things at dinner with them at hand to watch. Not including things like renaming the dessert from mousse au chocolate to chocolate cream and things like that, which have happened more times than I would care to remember. Once a bottle of port fell off the buffet, broke and emptied itself under the buffet and all around it. We ignored that sweet scent of wine in the air as best we could until the guests had left. They left around 1 in the morning and then we got to work cleaning. We emptied the buffet so we could move it and wash away the sticky wine underneath. Scrub, scrub. I think we went to bed around 5 in the morning.

Once when making French fries the whole pot of hot oil somehow slipped off the stove onto the floor. When you see something like that happening you don’t try to stop it, no sir, you jump back as far as possible and enjoy the splash from a distance. There are times when you can just pretend that something didn’t happen or wait until the guests have left to clean it up like we did with the wine. Well, this was not one of them. We were all in the kitchen sitting around the table and we were going to have to do something with the considerable mess before continuing the meal. After all, you don’t want your guests to have to eat dinner while holding their feet up in the air. There was oil EVERYWHERE. Ugh.

One of the funnier times was almost like slapstick. Ben was carrying two plates of spaghetti with tomato sauce from the kitchen to our guests in the dining room. I’m not sure if the dog got in the way or Ben just stumbled over something. He jerked his hands enough for the spaghetti to go flying off the plates landing smack-dab onto the beige carpet next to our guest’s feet. At least it didn’t land on their laps and it was time to get a new carpet anyway. There is something to be said for serving a meal “family style”.

spills - irish coffeeBen and I spent our honeymoon in Ireland and brought back the tradition of serving Irish Coffee. To make Irish Coffee you heat the whiskey in a special glass then add the sugar and coffee and enjoy. We even bought a special burner to use. The drink itself is great but making it with this special burner is also fun to watch and is part of the enjoyment. By far the most spectacular thing happened once while making Irish Coffee. It is something you certainly do not want to try at home (or anywhere for that matter). While Ben was warming the whiskey on the burner he was constantly turning the glass while talking to our guests. Occasionally he would stop turning it when discussing but would always continue rotating the glass before anything happened. Except once.

While taking to the guests he forgot how long he had been heating the Whiskey. The glass then got too hot and broke or maybe the word exploded would be more appropriate. The hot whiskey spitted through the fire and spilled all over the tablecloth burning magnificently. Amazing how fast people can push away from the table to enjoy a show like that from a distance. Really, nothing beats the entertainment we offered our guests that evening. By the way, no animals or humans were harmed during the show. We were able to put out the fire before it had done more than burn the alcohol. When asked if we did that often Ben said we try to hold it to a minimum otherwise it would get boring.

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