Lisa Markwell: Why I still want people to come dine with me

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

Surveying the dirty dishes and streaky glasses after a midweek dinner party, it would be easy to agree with the YouGov survey announced yesterday that 40 per cent of us can't face the hassle or expense.

After a dash home from work to tidy up and throw together a shepherds pie (I always forget the homespun end result comes from laborious preparation), by 10.30pm I'm wishing my guests would bugger off so I could go to bed. Then there's the clearing up ...

But there's something rather dispiriting about the idea of people across Britain sitting quietly in their kitchens, eating alone, as the age of the dinner party passes into history. Apart from anything else, there's the question of what will happen to the sales of Ferrero Rocher?

Dinner parties – whether formal affairs with placements and tablecloths, cheese courses and decanters – or the more modern embodiment, the "kitchen supper", are the fabric of society. Without them the social discourse disappears. Yes, we can follow our friends on Twitter to catch their witty verdict on The Bridge, and we can see their holiday snaps on Facebook, but there's no satisfactory replacement for actual, you know, conversation; the kind that meanders around from the local book festival to movie gossip to politics.

The cost is a legitimate anxiety. The survey states that the average dinner party costs £60 and most of us hold six of them a year. My own profligacy/show-off tendencies put me at the upper end, I reckon, but there's no doubt that everyone – apart from the most haute of hostesses – is feeling the pinch. My own solution is to use Sunday's leftover roast lamb for the shepherds pie and buy wine when it's on special offer.

I do agree that performance anxiety gets the better of many would-be hosts. With wall-to-wall cookery shows on TV, who'd want to present their pasta with pesto in front of an ardent Great British Menu fan? But those shows are entertainment, not how-to videos. It'd be a very strange guest who expected salmon and caviar rolls with candied celery.

I once met Jamie Oliver and, on my husband's instructions, invited him round for dinner, assuming that no one else does. Sure enough, he says he never does get asked round, because everyone thinks their food isn't good enough. (He never came.)

But that's the point – dinner parties aren't actually about the food at all. It can be a large bowl of Doritos and a jug of mojitos; which is stretching the term dinner party to its limits, I agree. I still want people to Come Dine with Me – not least because my children learnt to converse, which they do brilliantly, by watching the grown-ups at our dinner table.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions