And so without further ado, I present:
A Guide to Fabulous Flavor:
How to Woo your dinner group
During my time at BYU, I have seen the rise of informal organizations known as “dinner groups” among students and newlyweds of all backgrounds. Although many of the less-informed claim that the purpose of the dinner group is purely economical, the truly educated understand that it is much more than that. The dinner group, ideally, is a rich cultural and social experience – an opportunity for sophisticated chefs to gather and counsel together and share wisdom. For some, the idea of such a group seems daunting, and perhaps it is for the hopeless mac-and-cheese aficionados. Nevertheless, I will attempt to outline a few of the morals we hold high in our kitchens.
Rule 1: Only use the best and freshest ingredients.
If you ever hope to impress the other members of your dinner group, you must never use anything that comes in a can. Similarly, frozen or processed foods are also despicable. When preparing vegetables or using herbs, only use the freshest produce available. Don't even think about using dried spices! Whenever possible, buy locally at the farmer's market. Buy organic, even if it costs twice as much. You are a sophisticated chef, and you cannot afford to use second-rate ingredients. If you do, your guests will surely be disappointed, as their palates have been trained to detect such sloppiness.
Rule 2: Use recipes from a trusted source.
Your dinner group is well-versed in cooking literature and is up-to-date on all of the new recipes outlined on the cooking network. They have memorized last year's cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and they have marked The Pioneer Woman Cooks as their home page. Follow a recipe from a chef they admire. If you must be creative, prepare an unusual ethnic dish that you learned from a native. I, for one, found success by preparing baked chicken wrapped with bacon and drizzled with a tomato cream sauce served over warm rice with a hint of garlic and a side of slow-simmered beans. And a salad.
Rule 3: Be informed and engage in enlightening conversation
This rule, while important, is not as important as the previous two. Fortunately for you, assuming you have obeyed the first two rules, you will have an ample list of topics from which you can draw. In essence, you have gathered all the essential ingredients, making it a simple matter of reading the recipe. Tell your friends about the special ingredients included in your elegant meal. Like Homer of old, assume the role of the bard. Relate your epic search for the whole native pepperberries used in your cream sauce, or share your technique employed in the preparation of the basil chiffonade. When you have exhausted your ingredient-stories (which is unlikely) you may move on to the next subject – the chefs and shows that serve as inspiration. Have caution here; conversations like these can last the whole night. I know.
I wish you the best of luck as you seek to earn status in your very own dinner group. Remember: Fresh is best. Learn or burn. Share if you care. Follow these and you are guaranteed to succeed. Now, excuse me – I must return to the kitchen. My ramen is burning.