Coughlin, Sandy. The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman’s Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2010.
Great title…and some very good practical ideas…
"My 10 Commandments of Hospitality"
1. “Hospitality is not about you.”
I was just reading today that the host’s hospitality goal is not her own self-actualization but an appreciation of her guest’s identity. Hans-Georg Gadamer has worked on this issue of the possibility of ever knowing another’s “horizons.” Here’s what Thomas W. Ogletree notes: “This emphasis is a corrective to the Western tendency to begin and end the experiences of others in terms of his or her own experiences, and who assimilates the moral import of the other into his or her own self-actualization.”
That’s not easy for me to acknowledge as my other research idea involves female self-actualization. This connection is something I want to explore further.
2. “Plan ahead, be organized, and know your recipe. Learn to delegate.” This relates to #1. It’s not about you. Including others in the planning, execution, and/or clean-up embraces their gifts.
3. “Set the mood. Keep ambience and the five senses in mind.”
I bow to my daughters and son on this one. Flowers, simple and tasteful table settings, mood-inspiring music…You get the idea.
4. “Avoid perfectionism. Put fear aside—it’s a robber of anything good.”
It’s really not in the details. It’s not about the gathering; it’s about the enjoyment of the gathered.
5. “Share conversation. Foster friendships by keeping things real.” If you tend to hide in the kitchen, like I do, invite people to gather there.
6. “Demonstrate thriftiness.” No need to spend and acquire.
7. “Don’t apologize. It’s okay to make mistakes…it robs your guests of relaxation.”
Apologizing doesn’t make it go away or better. It just makes it awkward. Again, it’s not about you. Never lose focus on everyone’s enjoyment.
8. “Be creative. Use what you have. Keep things simple.” See # 6.
9. “Learn from others. Find mentors…” I think of my former neighbor who could craft an elegant meal from the reduced produce section of Winn Dixie. I think of Theresa Pirron who discarded nothing that could be used for another meal—often more delicious than before. I think of my former mother-in-law, reading cookbooks in bed and clipping recipes from newspapers. I think of my mother and her combinations of “meat, potatoes, beans.” I think of my cousin and her husband at a large farm table with an abundance of local foods.
10. “Life impact is everything. Experience intimacy and meaning in sharing a meal and gleaning from others’ lives.”
I know this seems like a strange recommendation for this commandment, but read Judith Jone’s Cooking for One. Every recipe serves an intimate two, I’ve found. The photos are gorgeous and the text is inspiring.
Also, buy Sandy’s booka and peruse her blog: http://reluctantentertainer.com/#
Here are some internet resources that she recommends:
Kraft's iFood Assistant (app): food planning and meal preparation, with shopping list
Leftover Wizard at BigOven.com: creates recipes from 3 ingredients you enter
SuperCook.com: recipe search engine that creates recipes from ingredients you have
RecipeMatcher.com: your ingredients produce recipes with at least one of them