That’s one theory of New Year’s Eve. Then there is the other. That you should have a complete blow-out of all the things that you plan to “resolution” out of your life. Sort of the ultimate: “get it out of your system” technique. The latter pretty much sums up our New Year’s Eve. The usual suspects were gathered. This is the crew that we traditionally have around for what we call The Holiday Trifecta: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. This year, for the first time, New Year’s Eve was added to the mix. And it was such a hit, we’re now looking for an equally good word for “four in a row”.
The crew is Andy and me as hosts for the simple reason that Andy has built a complete replica of an English pub in the basement of our San Francisco house. We also have a TV room down there which is handy for the entertainment portion of our evening. Other characters include Rob and Susi, parents of The World’s Most Beautiful Baby, our Goddaughter. Eccentric Julian and Vickie, two additional Brits. And rounded out by Scotch Andrew and his lovely wife, Jan. That makes for two Americans (Susi and I), four Brits (Andy, Rob, Julian and Vickie) and two Scots, Jan and Andrew. A great mix, we’ve discovered, for events of this sort.
The theme of this event was fondue. And it was the perfect prelude for anyone whose New Year’s resolution contained any combination of giving up fat, alcohol or unhealthy eating. By which, I mean that the dinner consisted of lashings of rich cheese, smoked meats, alcohol and general merriment. I think we all got our 2010 quota of all of the above. Giving them up for awhile should be easy now.
I won’t bore you with all the details of the evening. You had to be there. But I will pass along a few things we learned:
1) When confronted by Kirsch-laden cheesy goodness, few people will know when to stop. No matter how many bowls of this stuff you put out, everyone will keep eating. Be warned.
2) Massive quantities of cheese will induce Cheese Coma or, at the very least, Cheese Alzheimer’s. As we collapsed on the couch to watch Animal House and a Three Stooges Marathon, we realized our cheese-laden brains could barely process this simple fare. Be warned.
3) Despite the popular belief, when Scots are placed in front of a fondue pot filled with boiling oil, they will politely turn bread chunks into croutons. They will not whip out Mars Bars and attempt to deep fry them.
4) Boeuf Bourguignon is best made by Scotswomen. We had an excellent one from Jan’s fair hands. Then she slipped up and mentioned she might soon be making a steak and ale pie. Based on the beef, we will be lurking near her front porch ready to invite ourselves when that happens.
5) You think the French are the world’s cheesemasters? They have nothing on the English and the Swiss. In Julian, we just happened to have an Englishman of Swiss extraction. I’ll leave you to imagine the results of his efforts.
6) Fox Terriers are notoriously “child intolerant”. You may think separating them from any attendant children will be your biggest challenge. In actuality, terriers will tremble at the force that is a large healthy Scottish toddler. Oscar and Lucy are still hiding under the bed this morning.
7) On that subject, it’s a good idea to hire a babysitter for these occasions. Not to keep the kiddies out of trouble. But to save terrier sanity and allow the adults to behave as childishly as possible without imprinting bad habits on their offspring.
8 ) If you wait too long to pick up the party favors, you will be left with slim and very odd pickings. All that was available yesterday afternoon was a ten pack of “pimps and ho’s” type black velour fedoras and feathery headdresses. And balloons in black, silver and orange. Which, in an odd way, was somewhat appropriate for the end of a very strange year and decade.
9) Cheese should have been discovered by some civilization as a superb mortar. If the Parthenon, the Pyramids and the glorious buildings of Rome had been liberally mortared with leftover fondue, they would still be standing today. This we learned at morning-after clean-up. Be warned.
10) New Year’s Eve is best spent with very good friends. Add cheese and the result is perfection.
Happy New Year, everyone. And I hope you celebrated with as wonderful a crew as we did.