Stressed hosts, late guests, and poached recipes
Illustrations: Esti Friedman Saposh
There’s nothing like summer Shabbos meals together. The weather is beautiful, the days are long, and the people have absolutely no table manners. If we’re being honest, this column has been a long time coming. Stressed hosts (us) and guests (also us) submit their questions.
I slaved Wednesday night, Thursday night, and a good part of Friday to come up with the most impressive Shabbos meal for my closest childhood friend and her family, and let me tell you: I. Delivered. Each meal was an intricately woven tapestry of storytelling and art. I served elevated heimish food and heimish elevated food. I had courses on courses, and palate cleansers in between. And THEN, no one passed the platters around, which means no one tasted my gefilte tartar with micro cilantro salad besides eight-year-old Shloimy, who it was sitting in front of the whole time, and he drowned it in spicy mayo so he didn’t even taste the balanced flavors. I’m distraught. Who comes to a Shabbos meal and doesn’t pass the platters? My so-called friend, that’s who. Has our relationship been a sham this whole time?
Your relationship is fine. You can fix this issue extremely simply and quickly! Here’s how: replace your dining room table with a round dining room table. Fit it with a lazy Susan. Purchase custom tablecloths that cover the table but still allow for Susan to freely move as she wishes. Rotate Susan as often as necessary to ensure every single guest tries every item you worked so hard on. And if by ensure we mean force-feed, that’s neither here nor there.
Shul is over at 11:15, so can someone please tell me why my guests didn’t roll in until 12:45? Apparently they had an undisclosed bar mitzvah AND aufruf kiddush, ran into an old friend from yeshivah days, and had a daughter whose shoes pinched so badly that they had to go home to change. We casually went out to the sidewalk several times to strain our eyes to catch a glimpse of them down the block, and now it’s so late that my food is probably ruined and my cholent’s overcooked.
So you’re saying the first 27 hours of the cholent cooking were totally fine, but the 28th hour ruined everything? Honestly, this sounds like you have a hangryness problem more than a guest problem. Let them live their best lives, and ask your husband to put you out of your misery and make Kiddush so you can pregame, too.
My sister-in-law invited us for Shabbos, and she literally started with the apologies WHEN SHE INVITED US. She’s sooo sorry, but her third guest room is being used for storage so she’ll only have two rooms for us (we have two kids). And then as soon as we came, she’s sooooo sorry that her housekeeper didn’t have time to iron the linen, she was busy organizing her Lucite gemach inventory. And she’s soooo sorry she doesn’t have a full-fledged to’ameha on Friday, she hopes kugel, deli roll, and schnitzel will be okay. Like, is this a joke? I’m running out of polite ways of saying stop making me feel inadequate.
Well, first of all, yes, this is a joke. Welcome. Second of all, the perfect solution is to invite her back to your house, which has been deliberately kept exactly how you always keep it when there are no guests. Like, not dirty, but not exactly spic-and-span. Things out and about. Kitchen low-key flying, not dysfunctional, just normal chaos. Then turn to her and say absolutely nothing. See if she apologizes for your house.
My cousin invited us for Shabbos and she oh-so-casually mentioned that the Liebershteins on the next block are moving to Dallas and hint hint, they’re leaving behind a gorgeous colonial in a cul-de-sac. She knows I have no interest in moving to her neighborhood, it’s so far away! But now (it’s after Shabbos) my husband is sending me Zillow links with hopeful hands emojis (he doesn’t care about location, he sees a house in our budget anywhere in the world and his eyes turn into cartoon hearts) and I cannot take it.
Simple. Print out the following notice and submit it to all your guests and hosts to avoid future shalom bayis spats. You should also hang it behind the guest bathroom door and keep spare pocket-size copies handy for guests to keep at the ready:
TOPICS PROHIBITED FROM DISCUSSING IN THE PRESENCE OF MY HUSBAND
Houses for sale (except unpriced yet move-in-ready houses on the one specific street I want to move to)
Items you might know that I bought on sale recently
Items you might know that I bought for full price recently
Going to his parents for Yom Tov
Going to my parents for anything
The price of groceries, gas, or sheitels
Ben Shapiro chochmahs
Joe Biden slurring during a speech
My friend is hosting us for the meal and honestly, I can’t bring myself to buy a $65 beef jerky platter that contains about nine bucks worth of meat, yes, even though it’s cut really thin. Time is money, right? Can’t I just spend some quality time with my kids rolling rugelach for her for the same token offering?
Time is money, but if your time was filled with your kids mixing questionable substances into your rugelach dough, then actually, money is money. And just because you’re being influenced doesn’t mean the world stopped making $20 bottles of wine that you could offer a host with your head held high.
We’re eating at my sister-in-law’s, and she has the nerve to serve my signature diamond-shape two-tone brownie platter. She literally garnished it exactly like mine, with Viennese crunch, whipped topping, and vanilla pudding mixed together. Everyone knows that’s my invention, and she didn’t even acknowledge it when the compliments were pouring in. Is recipe plagiarism illegal?
Sit down. You didn’t invent brownies, and you didn’t invent lazy desserts either. We’ve all been making the exact same things in our kitchens concurrently this whole time, and you can find more original things to get annoyed about, just like your desserts.
I had the Schwartzsteins over five weeks ago and I’m having them again this week. Will they notice if I serve deli roll again?
I forgot to go to Home Goods, also my serving dishes are floral and matching my wedding china, which is so 2008. Am I doomed?
My son is bringing a bunch of bochurim to the meals. Is this a good week to try out the new lentil, quinoa, and arugula salad I’ve been eyeing?
My husband tried to be all Man with a Pan this week, and I’m low-key concerned that he didn’t realize we have four picky eaters. Should I tell him I have an entire backup Shabbos in the freezer?
I took a fork from the milchig drawer and was holding it in my right hand, and in my left hand I was holding a hot knife that I intended to cut onions with but I don’t remember if I did or not, and it was probably yad soledes bo, but I have no feeling in my fingertips so I could for sure touch it anyway. Do I need to bury the fork in dirt?
Take a kashrus course, but no.
I invited a friend for a meal, she just moved into town. And when I asked the perfunctory “any allergies?” She rattled off a list. We’re talking niche allergies, not just your everyday treenuts and sesame. I didn’t realize it would be so complicated. Am I mean for wanting to rescind the invitation?
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 805)
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