Saturday, January 08, 2005

Preparations for the chicken party

Our guests for tonight's festivities - the aforementioned chicken party - will be arriving in about an hour. Never heard of a chicken party? Neither had we. In fact, I think we made it up.

Here's the deal: Our friends F. and S. are vegetarian, and have been (mostly) pretty strict about it for as long as we've known them. But they've started teetering recently - not least when S. ate sausage (nitrate-free, happy sausage from the hippie pizza place, but pig innards nonetheless) earlier this year.

I have not yet had the pleasure of cooking meat for them... there's nothing quite like preparing it for recent converts to carnivorism. So last fall our farm offerred us the opportunity to buy free-range, organic chickens. We did so, and swore that F. and S. would eat it with us.

Thus, the chicken party.

As we speak, the chicken is defrosting in a pot of cold water in the sink. I have perused some cookbooks for roasting reminders (it's been years since I cooked a whole chicken). Side dishes have been decided upon and assigned (we're making potatoes, either mashed or roasted, F. and S. are bringing a salad and A. is in charge of the wine), and I made the call to use my china and crystal for this momentous occasion. It's going to be a pain, because neither the china nor the crystal can go in the dishwasher.

But I love the china - it belonged to my grandmother's grandparents, who raised her after her mom essentially abandoned her. (I also have the same great-great grandmother's engagement ring, allegedly from Tiffany's and bought long after the wedding, when my g-g grandfather's grocery business took off.)

The crystal - Waterford's Lismore pattern - is new to me as of a few weeks ago. My aunt inherited it from her longtime employer and close friend, but thought she wouldn't get enough use from it so she gave it to us. The stuff is gorgeous and extremely expensive - we're talking $45 for one wine glass. My grandmother suggested we sell it and go to Europe with the proceeds. We'd rather keep it, and use it as often as we can, in the spirit of my aunt's gift. (Right now it's sitting in a cardboard box in the kitchen. We have no suitable place to display it, but I don't want to put it in storage in the basement - we'll never use it then.)

And besides, if you can't pull out the good dishes for a chicken party, when can you?