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Monday, December 17, 2012

I Still Don't Trust That Bowl


Mary's going over to Willie's to clean the house.

I’m co-hosting a party.

Saturday night is Misfit Christmas, an evening-long celebration starting with food and drink, more food and drink, that gift-stealing-and-dice game, still more food and drink, and the eventual collapse into a frankly drunken sit-down discussion around world events and observations regarding anatomy.

Cigarettes to be smoked on the porch, where the ambient air temperature is well below freezing.

Starts at 7:00 and ends when I disappear.

As with so many parties, I’m required – by neighborhood law, I believe – to make Taco Layer Dip, Jalapeno Popper Dip, and the Hidden Valley Torte.

Let’s hope I do better with the torte than I did last time.

It’s a delightful little concoction, really. Layered stratum of seasoned cream cheese, roasted red peppers, parsley, and artichoke hearts, it’s as pretty as it is tasty, the layers having been constructed in any interestingly shaped bowl and then turned upside-down on a plate and ringed with crackers just before serving.

I like to create a little decorative something-or-other for that first layer, the layer that will be on top when you flip it over and serve it, something with artfully arranged roasted red peppers.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Mm-hmm. That’s what I thought.

And so for the last party I threw, I thought I’d make a stylized flower. I carefully arranged the red peppers on the bottom of the bowl and then threw the first layer of cream cheese on it.

If you’ve ever worked with cream cheese – and who here hasn’t, really – you know it’s not the most easily spread of substances. I pushed it around, tried to smooth it so that the next layer of peppers/artichokes/parsley would lie flat. I then layered another slathering of cream cheese, another strata of the peppers/artichokes/parsley, and ended with the cream cheese.

The creation of this dish is immediately followed by a vigorous licking of any utensil used in its creation.

The next day, one flips it over onto a plate, throws some more parsley around the edges, arranges some crackers, and voila. Fish and chips.

But that’s not how it worked out.

The next day, when I flipped the torte over on to the plate, my stylized flower was no longer a flower. It had been pushed into another design altogether.

My pretty little flower was now as near an approximation to a swastika as I’ve ever seen on a party food.

There were people at the door, people lugging beer up the steps, people shouting at each other. I didn’t have time to play with the food.

I left it there.

Oddly enough, no one seemed to notice; which either tells you something about the observational skills of my friends, their political leanings, or their abilities to swill large amounts of beer.

I’m thinking it was the beer.

I’m going to give this little dish another chance. Sure it’s tasty. Sure it’s festive in appearance. But if it thinks I’m going to get into a discussion regarding its ideological leanings, it’s going to find itself being escorted out of the building.

It’s Misfit Christmas, for cryin’ out loud.

38 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Misfit Christmas...at last....somewhere I could fit in.

savannah said...

sounds like a plan to me, sweetpea! i'm in! xoxox

Perpetua said...

Oh, the recalcitrance of inanimate objects, Pearl! Simple answer - those who object, don't eat. :-)

Shelly said...

They were probably too focused on how good it was going to taste, rather than any political statements. Sounds like it's going to be a crackin' party!

Leenie said...

Yeah, I'd give that bowl to--um (not Goodwill, not Salvation Army)um--how about those neighbors who camp out on their porch on a beat-up sofa.

Simply Suthern said...

Thats as bout a misfit as you going to get.

Pearl said...

It's possible that I've misappropriated my suspicions here. Perhaps it's the subversive roasted red peppers -- while delicious, they just may be the culprits.

I do love that bowl...

Nessa Roo said...

I always give credit to the elves on things that turn out like that. Those elves really know how to make a conversation piece.

Douglas said...

The last time I ate cream cheese (I was 5), I vomited almost immediately Apparently, I am not cream cheese friendly.

Geo. said...

The French sculptor, Rodin, was famous for his bronzes (like "The Thinker") but started out working in cream cheese. Food for thought.

jenny_o said...

Next time, try dipping the spoon into hot water before spreading that cream cheese. Hey, it works for my too-stiff frosting!

Sounds like a delicious party, and a great name - Misfit Christmas. Since I can't crash yours without a good deal of travel both ways, perhaps I could appropriate the name and have my own.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Of course there were artichoke hearts. Of course there were! ;)

An hour ago, at our office Christmas party, I was just discussing my deep, abiding love for cream cheese.

Jono said...

We once had a cream cheese dip for a get together. As the neighbors were coming in the door I noticed the cat helping himself to the dip. I hope the neighbors didn't see that.

Pearl said...

Seriously, look up "Hidden Valley Torta". It's so pretty, and so tasty...

The comments re: the cream cheese are making me laugh today.

Joanna Jenkins said...

You always throw the best parties :-) I hope it's fantastic and goes all night long!

"Vigorous licking of any utensil" while cooking good food is always a must in my book, therefore I hope your Christmas stocking is stuffed a few extra spatulas this year.

Have fun. xo jj

klahanie said...

Hey Pearl,

Yes, lucky you, it's me, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! :)

Misfit Christmas seems like just the sort of set up my human would be right at home in.

Do you like my Santa hat? Arf! Arf!

Pawsitive wishes and some British cream cheese, your way, Penny

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh appetizers are SO involved--the pure pressure of them! I'd rather serve a full supper!

vanilla said...

Yes, dear. We know that the party is over when Pearl disappears!

Chantel said...

Girl--I so was expecting it to end up looking like labia. (the whole flower thing....c'mon, am I the only one?)

Next time....do this intentionally? Take pictures.

Gigi said...

ANYTHING with cream cheese in it is amazing...even if it looks like a swastika.

We do Misfit Thanksgiving/Christmas here too!

Lin said...

Creme the creme cheese. Seriously. I would make it lighter (and easier to spread) by letting it soften, then beat it with a mixer. That should fix the problem and make it easier to spread. Then you can make dirty pictures with your peppers....or something just as fun.

Menopausal New Mom said...

This could only happen to you lol!!

Stephen Hayes said...

Your posts are always so delightfully refreshing. I like cream cheese provided I'm not told it's in what I'm eating.

Rosemary Nickerson said...

You know it all looks the same once you bite into it. :)
Rosemary

Joanne Noragon said...

My granddaughter would have ignored your creation. She believes cream cheese is cheese. Your know, swiss, cheddar, string, you name it. Consequently cheese cake would be horrid...if she even tasted it.

The Elephant's Child said...

What shape are you challenging the bowl with this year?

esbboston said...

If I ever need a sticky swasticky, I now know the girl to make one for me. First books, then dips; I wonder whatz neXt?

Sioux said...

Pearl--I made your Hidden Valley Torte after you posted the recipe two years (?) ago. It is scrumptious.

Far Side of Fifty said...

:)

Tempo said...

Maybe this year shape a swastika and hopefully when you turn it out...wow! a flower...

River said...

For the first layer to turn out successfully, anything you use, peppers, whatever, needs to be set in a thin layer of aspic or similar.
And use a warmed-in-hot-water spoon to smooth the cheese layers.

Linda O'Connell said...

Misfit party, I know bunch of people I could invite. You are able to take the most mundane and make it funny.

the walking man said...

Your friends were already buzzed when they got there...they didn't want to have to smoke the hemp outside.

Diane Tolley said...

Okay, I just googled 'Pearl's Hidden Valley Torte' AKA 'Savoury Swastika Starters' and drew a blank. You're safe. For the moment. Myself and my tee-tolling friends are on our way over. Hide the mix!

Pat said...

You could always pass the swastika off as a literary allusion:
"Kipling's own introduction to the swastika as an Hindu good luck symbol certainly came through his father's encyclopaedic knowledge of Indian art."
Kipling had it as a symbol on his books.

Austan said...

Hahahahahah!

Eva Gallant said...

I'm not sure it's wise to issue a political statement on top of a cheese dip. Better luck this time!

Jen said...

Chantel ... me too! Never thought I would be relieved to see a swastika ...