I just returned from another Author Event at the Free Library of Philadelphia, inspired to take up the keyboard and write. This time, rather than reeling from the ire of Mark Bittman, I am completely charmed by the idealism and good cooking karma of Steve Poses. Poses is famous in Philadelphia as the founder of the Frog and the Commissary, two restaurants at the forefront of the Philly restaurant emergence in the seventies. He later turned his attention to catering, opening the Frog Commissary. Now he has taken up a new cause, to actually increase home entertaining in the U.S. by 10%. How he will document this uptick, I do not know; but the enthusiasm with which he advocates for the surge is contagious.
Since the start of the recession, many magazines have become advocates for entertaining at home as a way to cut spending. For Poses, the issue is not one of economics but community building. He discusses the joys and breaks down the steps of home entertaining in his new book, At Home by Steve Poses and the companion website, At Home Online. Purchase of the book gets you a code that gives you exclusive access to the website. The website includes all of the recipes in the book (and then some) that are easily printable, plus other tips and tricks. A glance through the book quickened my salivary glands. (Kaffir lime-infused vodka? Yes please!)
The talk made me even more appreciative of my personal food community, my friends, with whom I eat and cook on a regular basis. I don't even think of these meals as "dinner parties," they comprise such a natural part of our social scene, but that is essentially what they are. Peppered throughout kitchenplay are the names of my food partners in crime: Mike, Sarah, Daniel are but a few. Sometimes I'm cooking for them, them for me, or we're cooking together. It's a very simple, non-stressful part of our circle.
I realize that not everyone has a food community already, and I'm lucky that so many of my friends just love cooking, but I highly recommend building your own. It's as simple as hosting a potluck or staring a regular Sunday dinner routine. Poses is right; sharing a pot of homemade soup with friends is so much more satisfying than any meal in a restaurant.
That said, there's a "dinner party" tomorrow night and I'm thinking of making a mushroom barley soup to precede Mike's squid in red wine with lentils. I gotta start looking through recipes.
At Home with Steve Poses: A Caterer's Guide to Cooking and Entertaining is available only on his website.