I’m a foodie. Not a die hard, obsessed with culinary arts, dreams of owning a restaurant type foodie. I’d never go that far. But still, I appreciate a good meal, new tastes and unique preparations. I enjoy events that have meals as their centerpiece, and I especially like them when the meal is fabulous.
Nine years ago, my sister-in-law, Nikkole (who is a higher-level foodie than I am), and I concocted a scheme to start a gourmet dinner club. We modeled it after her mom’s group, which they call simply, “Gourmet.” Nikkole and I devised a game plan, then typed it up and sent it out to a few friends we hoped would join us, and asked them to invite a few more.
At the top our invitation, I typed:
Bon vivant— a person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink.
The name stuck, and now, every month or two, eight of us convene for an evening of delicious foods, wines and conversation, which we refer to as “Bon Vivant.”
We’re an eclectic group of gals, representing a vast array of interests, lifestyles and personalities. There’s the woman who lives for her horses, which she breeds and shows. She sometimes comes straight from the barn — where she slept — waiting for a horse to give birth. There’s a high school teacher who entertains us with stories of homecoming floats and whatnot. We have women launching their own food-related businesses, a freelancer (that’s me), corporate career girls and stay-at-home moms, cat lovers and cat haters, liberals and conservatives, urban-dwellers and suburbanites. It’s unlikely that we would have ended up in the same room — ever — if it weren’t for our mutual desire to pursue, if only for one night a month, the luxurious good life through a meal. We’re all foodies.
I hosted an Oktoberfest-themed meal this time around. I tried out a variety of pork chop recipes on my family the weeks before (a period that we call porkapalooza) before deciding on a recipe from Epicurious.com for Pretzel Crusted Pork Chops with Orange Mustard Sauce. My cleaning operation started weeks before the meal, my table setting planned days before, my cocktail was finally settled on the afternoon of the dinner, found on Pinterest.
I drove to a bush I saw on a lonesome corner, shears in hand, and collected mounds of bright orange berries for my centerpiece. I’d not anticipated the thorns, but considered a dripping, bloody, itchy hand a worthwhile injury in the name of a beautiful table. When I arrived home to find my children had somehow drawn in blue marker all over the tablecloth of my already set table, I started over, rewashing and resetting. It had to be perfect.
As I get with parties, I was exhausted when my friends arrived, but I greeted them with apple cocktails and finished cooking my pork chops before settling down to simply enjoy. My exhaustion melted away, replaced with the warm feeling of being with old friends, yummy eats and a enjoying, once again, a valued tradition.
Later, stuffed and relaxed, I said good-bye to my fellow bon viveurs, and returned to my normal, non-luxurious lifestyle, which I’ll continue until next month.
Overland Park mom and 913 freelancer Emily Parnell blogs at mom2momkc.com.