How do I describe how it feels to enjoy Grilled Fish with guests?

Posted on July 27, 2011


I want to try to describe the emotions that accompanied me as as I was preparing dinner tonight, but finding a fitting description is somewhat tricky. Because I realized, with some surprise, that though I was calmly and efficiently moving from slicing veggies to boiling potatoes to putting fish on the grill, I was sort of shaking in my flip-flops this evening.

We had a lovely guest for dinner, a friend of my husband. While I was half expecting him tonight, I didn’t make any definite plans because, honestly, I am dealing with Ghanaians here. Anything could happen. Over time I have learned to forget about time, but alas, when I realized my husband was behind time in getting home from work this afternoon, I texted him to see if he stayed late. No, in fact, he was minutes away from home, after just having picked up his friend. With fifteen minutes notice, I started to formulate some concrete plans. (And when I say “plans,” I mean food, of course…what else?)

Though our grill lighter was out of service, and we were down to a dingy, half-used match book that I found at the back of the cupboard, this meal really happened.

Not in least thanks to our landlord who came to the rescue with a decent box of matches! In addition to that, we had received a beautiful piece of fresh-caught striped bass from a friend who we visited this past weekend, and some whole sardines from another friend who knows my husband could never resist a smelly fish. These were easy to thaw pretty quickly, and after a timely, routine stop at the grocery this morning, I was decently stocked with fresh, grillable veggies. 

So I was prepared, and I knew what I had to do, but I was really nervous about whether this dinner would turn out, not to mention whether it would be to everyone’s liking. I don’t often cook for people other than my husband, and even though I put a lot efforts into the meals I prepare for him, I’ve kind of taken on this “he’ll have to eat it anyway” attitude when it’s just the two of us. For guests however, I feel like much more is riding on my presentation of a meal. Is this perhaps another hint that I am turning into June Cleaver? Am I going to be that apron-wearing housewife preparing “company dinner” and hiding her anxiety-ridden emotional state behind an ear-to-ear, lipsticked grin?

Perhaps not, since I don’t wear lipstick and forgot all about my apron tonight, but it seems the cook in me has really become part of my identity, and I’m cool with that. I am glad to be a part of a modern food movement, where it’s ok and right to enjoy preparing and sharing meals with others… except if there are sardines involved. I will hold my nose and not share in any part of that, aside from snapping a picture of the happy pescavore’s plate to my left.

By the way, we still have not purchased a proper outdoor dining set… this is just the light weight, self-assembled Ikea desk transplanted from the living room to our back patio. I’m still advocating for the real thing… please feel free to lend your cries of support, or cross your fingers that one goes on sale!