What to Make When Hosting Someone
One of the most common and practical ways to show hospitality is to make someone a meal. Why? To state the obvious, because everyone has to eat.
Food is an inseparable part of life. It’s both something needed and something that can be delighted in. Gathering to partake in a meal with others is something that cuts across socio-economic circumstances, religion, politics, sexuality, and even culture.
There are several reasons why we’re hesitant to enter into a hospitable life in this regard, but I think chiefly among them is we don’t know what to make. Or, worse still, we don’t know how to cook. If we haven't entirely abandoned the idea of being hospitable to this point, we might think, Maybe I’ll just order something in. Ordering food is fine, but for all intents and purposes, it’s not always practical and can certainly be impersonal.
Serving someone a meal you prepared with your hands and with your time communicates how much you value the person you’re serving and the time they’re spending with you. You give part of yourself for them to take through the meal you’ve made.
So what should you make? Really, it doesn’t matter. But choose one meal. That’s all it takes. One meal.
In an effort to make up with my wife, Isabelle, after a disagreement one morning during our first year of marriage, I decided to have dinner ready for her when she got home from work. I had been watching the Food Network while on my lunch break—something I never do—when the chef on the program began making a lemon chicken dish. Immediately it struck me as something Isabelle would enjoy. As I kept watching, intrigued, I began thinking to myself, Even I can make this! The steps seemed simple enough and the ingredients were all things we already had on hand.
As soon as I was done with work, I got right to it in the kitchen. And when Isabelle got home, she was surprised and delighted to see dinner ready. I wish I could say I was instantly off the hook for what transpired that morning but I wasn’t. Nonetheless, Isabelle loved the meal. So much so that it’s become a staple in our home.
Since we’ve been married and hosting people, we have made this meal for nearly everyone who’s passed through our home. We’ve made it over and over again. It’s our go-to. We know this meal. We know the ingredients needed and the time it takes to prepare and cook.
So this is my suggestion: pick one meal. Pick something you like and think other people will too. Pick something that’s affordable to make, doesn’t take a lot of time, and isn’t complicated. Then, learn that meal frontwards and backwards.
Make it for yourself first before serving it to others. You’ll want to make sure it’s good to you, because of it’s not, there’s a good chance it won’t be to anyone else.
And don’t worry if you don’t know how to cook. A lot of people don’t. But nearly everyone can follow a recipe.
After you’ve gotten a good grasp on the meal, stick to it. Make it over and over again. Because this is what I’ve learned: the more relaxed you are about preparing the meal, the more relaxed you’ll be when you’re guests are there. You’ll be more focused on them and less distracted by that.
The meal itself is simply a means to an end—showing hospitality to another, and the friendship and life that springs thereafter.