Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
September 10, 2015
Dinner parties have been on my mind lately, probably because I haven’t hosted one lately. It has always been one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I love the idea of mixing people of different interests and just sitting at the dining table for hours talking.
For me the intimate spirit of eating at home far outshines that of eating at a restaurant. In keeping with that simpatico mood, only real food should be served, nothing nouvelle, no foams or pyramids in sight.
Something you didn’t know about me is that my dining room is lit only by candles in the evening, not an electric plug or switch in sight. There are 27 candles to be exact. I have never regretted my decision to not install electric lights. After all everyone and everything looks prettier under the glow of candlelight.
It takes me 20 minutes to light all the candles in my dining room and even less time to extinguish them.
Recently, I read an article about Nan Kemper’s famous Sunday night spaghetti buffets. The late great Nan was famous for being a hostess, devoted to fashion and art. She entertained in a sixteen room duplex apartment on 79th and Park.
Her daughter Lina was briefly my roommate at boarding school back East and I was lucky enough to visit her parents’ home, though sadly I never did meet her mother.
An original “social X-ray”, the phrase coined by Tom Wolfe to describe the premier rich and thin socialites of the Upper East Side, Nan’s table was considered one of the best in Manhattan. An invitation to her Sunday night spaghetti dinners was a coveted one, partly because you never knew who was going to show up. Princess Di? Oscar de La Renta? “Why, hello darling”.
As thin as a stalk of celery, Nan was known to have said: “I tell people all the time I want to be buried naked. I know there will be a store where I’m going.”
Be sure to check out my first Sunday supper recipe of Pasta Carbonara, in honor of Nan Kempner.