I can’t have booze without eats — preferably lovely, little, savory appetizers.
I’m not alone, judging from the number of stories on appetizers floating around newspapers in time for New Year’s. Find a few new ones, courtesy of The Associated Press and Detroit Free Press, on the Mail Tribune’s Holiday 101 page. The Free Press piece promises appetizers that easily come together well ahead of party time.
Because that’s the main problem with fete-worthy appetizers: They often take a considerable time investment. I learned that the hard way a few New Year’s holidays ago. To celebrate the visit of in-laws from Scotland and to show off a relatively new house, my husband and I invited dozens of friends and co-workers to a New Year’s party.
I figured we were being gracious to provide food if most guests planned to bring a bottle of their favorite liquor. The day of the party saw me in the kitchen as soon as breakfast was cleared well into the late afternoon.
The spread ran the gamut from cheese platters, hot seafood dips and stuffed mushrooms to Scotch eggs in honor of my in-laws. My sister-in-law joked that she had Nigella Lawson on her hands as she arranged a formidable forest of toothpicks bristling with cocktail wienies, cheese and pickled pearl onions atop a slab of melon disguised with aluminum foil — a Scottish specialty, she assured me.
Because I was too busy to eat, I relished the appointed hour when I would fill every square inch of the kitchen island with delectable morsels (well, maybe not the Scottish monstrosity). And it’s a good thing I was hungry enough to put a dent in the food because, to my horror, I realized that I was practically the only one eating.
Note to self: Stress in the invitation that appetizers will be served. Follow up note with a friendly reminder that “appetizers” don’t mean peanuts and pretzel sticks.
It turns out many of our guests had indulged in a meal out before arriving at the party. But I always suspect a certain contingent skips dinner altogether to save stomach space for copious quantities of alcohol — always a bad idea. You’d think anyone who anticipates becoming so inebriated that he’ll dance around in his underwear (after another drunken reveler ripped off his kilt) would first have the presence of mind to force down a few bruschetta to prolong the inevitable.
And we all know what I mean by inevitable — vomit on my shiny hardwood floors and plush carpet. At least this puke-patrol had an upside. Because they had refused my appetizers, my guests had little in their stomachs but clear liquid.
It’s a tough call: Savor the appetizers or save the floors.