Belly Up To The Bar Boys!
Well, it hasn’t been quite like that, but close. The rounds of graduation open houses continues apace. What shindigs!
Back when I graduated (There was parking for the dinosaurs out back of the barn and we had to rub sticks together to cook the roast beast.), it was pretty much a given that if you had an open house to celebrate your graduation, it would be held shortly after the ceremony, after you had got out from the auditorium with your robe and funny hat (I don’t recall anyone throwing them either) and headed on home to where the relatives had set up the punch bowl and put out the sandwiches and cut the cake (decorated in school or class colors–ours were maroon and white/ turquoise and black…now there’s a combo). Graduates generally had to forego attending each other’s fetes to stay at home and murmur thanks for gifts and talk to Aunt Faye about college plans or what was up with the local news. Besides, who had cars of their own to gallivanting off to eat somebody else’s sandwiches and cake? We ate that stuff for weeks afterwards. I do seem to remember trays of nut bread and punch…maybe mints and/or nuts…but it was all pretty sedate.
Boy , is that ever OVER! I quite sympathize with anyone who rents a hall to host the festivities. The very thought of trying to clean and cook and communicate in a civil fashion with the people wandering in and out of the house during the weeks and days and hours before graduation gives me the willies. Besides, having an indoor venue means that one does not have to be quite so obsessive about checking (and occasionally cursing) the weather person. This can, of course, be done at home but when one has to seriously consider icing down the cat dishes for stashing chilled beverages or setting up chips & dips on the ironing board (It’s an antique!), it means that you either have too many friends (NEVER) or a too-small house to consider a plus-size party for this occasion. And you don’t have to mow the lawn (Who’s been able to count on doing that , with the weather we’ve been having?) if somebody else will be taking care of that…and the parking is not your problem.
So, lately, the thing has been to go with a theme…something beyond “Thank God she made it out!” or “My bankroll can’t take much more of this–and there’s college yet to go!” One very pleasant tropical-themed one recently introduced me to lychee fruit, of which I had read/heard but never tasted . These are tropical/subtropical fruits (the only member of its particular genus of the soapberry family…doesn’t sound promising, does it?) that made it into the Charlie Chan movies because they began to be cultivated in China somewhere around 2000 B.C. What are called “lychee nuts” are really just the dried fruit rinds that are red and kind of bumpy. The actual fruit is sort of translucent, sweet and slippery–an odd sensation to say the least–that’s been removed from the rind, looks a bit like scallops in a bowl–totally different taste and texture. Anyway, the funny little guys fitted right into the whole party, with the pool open and the sun shining and the water splashing and the locals coming and going in their native costumes.
There is, of course, plenty of down-home, y’all come entertaining out there as well. I requested a recipe for one humungous salad-type dish that had–I inspected it closely–beans, corn, black olives, bacon, sour cream, cornbread, I think, and salsa or plain tomatoes, I’m not sure which. Tasty stuff and a nice contrast to the peanut butter-chocolate fudge bar found at another location. You’ll notice that I was grazing my way through these gatherings, trying to pace myself and not O-D one any one particular culinary offering. It’s one of the hazards of the season. This is all on top of the southern barbeque and Greek delicacies featured last week. So far no one has thought to go for an Alaskan Cruise or North Pole Party…probably has something to do with the shortage of whale blubber or seal steaks in the local IGA…walrus liver too, I’ll bet.
Anyway, more power to ‘em, I say. There is still one question that I have about such gatherings. If it’s an “open house” why are the initials R.S.V.P. (Respondez S’il Vous Plait–Reply, If You Please) on the invitation? Is this a ploy to keep out the riff-raff so that not every one within the immediate area doesn’t show up looking for dinner–or at least a hefty snack? Is it a heads-up to the party-throwers to order up another vat full of jo-jos? Is the house open or not? Do we attendees have to have the secret password in order to sneak a peek at the living room or the downstairs bathroom? Whatever. I get to as many as I can to wave goodbye as the train pulls out of the station headed for a new leg of life’s journey.