Jeopardized? Time to Play Cheap Host
known that one person in a circle of friends who suspiciously invites
everyone over for dinner at some time. Most of us interpret, correctly,
that this is because this one friend may or may not actually like the
people he socializes with, but more importantly sees everyone else as a
If this is
you, eventually you will catch wind that your friends are becoming
restless, that they are considering not including you in the next round
of invitations. You feel obligated to ante up, to preserve your gravy
train of cheap meals.
for you – a cheap meal to maximize your moochery – comes from some cold,
leftover rice and a wok.
A word of
caution about kitchen-related puns here. While entertaining your guests,
you might be tempted to hold up your pan and say to guests, “Wocka,
wocka.” If you do, you will be treated with steely glares of white hot
contempt. In your embarrassment, you will find yourself tempted to
mutter something about a childhood of Fozzie the Bear. This will cause
your guests to look at each other silently, stand up and make excuses as
they leave. The only way you could have erred worse is if you’d taken a
guest’s utensils, thrown them into your street and declared, “Why,
there’s a fork in the road.”
better to move forward boldly.
brain your closest guest with your wok and claim that it was all a sight
gag. This is indeed bold, but your dinner party will end with you being
dragged out of your home by the police.
could bow and depart the room. You are still operating from a social
deficit, but you have now declared your intention to recover.
It is time
for misdirection. Start singing sea shanties. This will put your guests
into a mind for seafood of some kind. Some will dread this, since
seafood is itself a mildly controversial food and difficult to get it
right for everyone in attendance.
chop up onion, jalapeno pepper and boneless pork. Here is a word on food
size. The base of your meal is rice, which means you will want chunks of
onion and pepper that are complementary in size, nice and small. You
leave the pork a little bigger, but not too much for reasons that shall
soon present themselves.
sauté them in olive oil, garlic, cumin and perhaps some oregano. If your
pork chunks are too much bigger than your vegetable chunks, here you
will run into the age-old dilemma of vegetables that are nicely cooked
and seasoned and left standing there, tapping their feet and looking at
their watches as pork takes its own sweet time. Considering the social
disgrace you’ve already made of yourself, it’s best not to compound the
wok, dump your cold rice and break up the clumps into individual
kernels. Dig out a nice sized hole in the middle of the rice, and add
more olive oil. Turn on your stovetop to high heat and wait for the oil
to get nice and hot. Continue singing, to deepen the misdirection.
oil is hot, crack an egg into the oil and scramble it. Once the egg is
nice and set, stir the egg and rice together – with just a dash of cumin
(in a move called in some circles, “a little cumin here, a little cumin
there”) until the rice is warmed up.
By now your
pork, onion and pepper should be nice and softened. Once it is, combine
the two groups of food in the wok, add salt and pepper and stir fry for
another half minute.
Presentation is now of utmost concern. When you walk into the dining
room, your guests will undoubtedly look bored and be expecting fish.
But, you have a wok of fried rice, southwest style. Tell them something
like, “I’m sorry, but I think tonight we see that dear Mr. Kipling was
wrong. I give you East meets West.”
them taco-sized corn tortillas for added effect. Some of your guests
will titter at the idea of breaking bread with so refined a host, and
interpret your meal as a deeply cultural statement. Others may raise a
water glass in your honor or clap appreciatively. You may even hear
someone say, “Well played.”
And, I say
with a wink and a nod, they’d be right. The cheap meal gravy train, for
you, will continue to roll.
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