Monday, November 08, 2010

Transport the Food, Not the Heirloom Platter

Dear Grace,
For Thanksgiving, my family tends to do a pot luck meal, and I am invariably assigned to bring two or three side dishes. I want to present the offerings in the way that looks attractive and is convenient to my hostess, but I also want to make sure I get my dishes back before next Thanksgiving. Any suggestions?

Grace says:

In general, Graces deliver food in containers that they don't want back because of the hassle factor. Aluminum trays, paper plates, disposable tupperware and even ziploc bags are much more user- friendly, and can be easier on both cook and recipient. Of course, we wouldn't dream of serving in said vessels save for the most informal picnic settings. For holiday dinners you want to make sure that the table is attractively arrayed with pretty dishes, not EZ Foil.

To that end, Graces keep a supply of inexpensive plates on hand for times like these. You can pick them up virtually anywhere--buy the odds and ends left on sale at a department store like Macy's or a get a set at a place like Target. I have a stack of plain white plates in my basement, and I am never concerned if they break or do not return home. And, in the likely event that your hosts have serving pieces of their own that they prefer to use, you can return the plate to your stash for future use.

Your question reminded me of a mortifying situation that I found myself in last year....It started with a serving tray. I hosted a brunch and a friend brought a tray heaped with bagels and all the fixings. She left early, but told me I could drop the tray with her doorman later. I should have just dumped the bagels onto another plate , but I was engrossed in the party. Following the brunch, I cleaned the tray, and planned to drop it to the doorman the next day. But one of the folks helping me in the kitchen put the tray away in my cupboard without my knowledge. I subsequently had reason to drop a few items with my friend's doorman, so when she asked me about the tray I had a vague memory of having delivered it. She never received the tray and was a bit concerned that the doorman had absconded with it.

We discussed possible malfeasance scenarios. She complained to the building superintendent, but no tray turned up. Months later, the friend's uncle passed away and she was asked to bring cookies to the reception. The missing tray had belonged to the late uncle's mother, so they particularly wanted it used. Sadly, it remained MIA. Imagine my shock and horror, when, several months after the funeral while preparing for a party of my own, I climbed up to the tippy-top of my china cabinet and pulled down an unfamiliar tray. Lo and behold. The doorman's name was cleared. The APB on the china thief was called off. And I had egg the size of Montana on my face. Fortunately, my friend is a Grace with an excellent sense of humor and she found the entire episode hilarious.

Speaking of thieves, real or imagined, I got to thinking about this film....If you haven't seen it, you should, it's a classic. The stars, the scenery, and the clothes alone are worth the price of the Netflix rental.

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