Less cooking, more socializing – it sounds perfect!
The famous French multi-course dinner party model is undergoing a revolution. As people are increasingly worn out by busy schedules, yet still inclined to enjoy food and drinks with friends, they are turning to a new entertaining model known as the apéro dînatoire. This is described in the Washington Post as,
In other words, less work and more fun, which sounds ideal for everyone. The only problem is, it forces food-lovers (like myself) to take a step back from the kitchen and realize that not everything has to be made from scratch, that buying most of the foods you serve will in fact make the entire evening more enjoyable for everyone. This does require a change in mindset.
"a relaxed and informal gathering in which guests lounge on the couch or wander around the living room, some (if not all) of the food is store-prepared, and everything is eaten by hand."
A proper apéro dînatoire – because this is still France and there is a correct way to do it – starts around 6 PM, several hours earlier than a traditional dinner party. There is no formal seating, which allows for more people (and kids) to mingle and wander. The food offerings must include crudités, dips (specifically tapenade), and charcuteries. "Chips, nuts, olives, savory puff pastry palmiers, and gougère cheese puffs" are also recommended, as they pair well with wine and cocktails.
I recently attended a get-together that was very much like the ideal apéro dînatoire. It featured a spread of finger-foods to start, with several fine cheeses, crackers, eggplant and labneh dips, and plenty of olives (we were in Istanbul, after all), followed an hour later by pizza delivery and an enormous, spectacular salad put together by the host. Combined with free-flowing wine, a great bossa nova playlist, and a group of smart, interesting people, it made for a perfect party, that clearly required less effort of the hosts than if they'd cooked a full meal. I left buzzed and brimming, convinced that this is how I want all my future dinner parties to be.
Why is this on TreeHugger, you may wonder? Because we are all in favor of people coming together to share food, to get off their devices, to build community and have face-to-face conversations. Anything that makes it easier is a good thing, and our whole world will be better off as a result.