Yesterday I had a lot of cooking and cleaning to do. I was behind on my usual schedule of cleaning the apartment; and my in-laws are coming over for dinner tonight. This is sort of a big deal because we haven’t seen them since late last year – and Hello Kitty Toaster is included in the bunch. They hate me something good, faithful blog followers. I’m not sure why, really – except that I operate much differently than the way they run their family. I don’t gossip. I don’t break the sanctity of my marriage to allow other family into our personal business. I don’t tell stories about my bowel movements and my dog’s bloody heat at the dinner table.
Call me crazy, that’s just me.
Somewhere between inviting them over for dinner and preparing the actual meal, though, I let Pinterest and Instagram ruin my life. Although if I were really being honest, this happened a long time ago.
Now that we have Pinterest and Instagram – with people posting picture after stupid picture of recipes, crafts, food, inspiration, you name it – the bar of how things look in real life has been set much higher. It’s not just about preparation, it’s about presentation. It’s not just about enjoying the meal, it’s about taking photos of it at every angle and posting them on Instagram. Your meal is perfection if you can take a photo of it and it looks unbelievable uploaded without a filter. And look! It’s so easy to do all these cutesy little DIY additions to make things look even more perfect. We call it “personalized touch.”
Pinterest and Instagram are just about making things even more perfect than we’ve already tried to make them.
So I planned the meal for tonight according to my own tastes. I figured that if I’m going to be cooking a meal for people whose most recent contact with us included the words “we know Heather won’t let you come see us and Heather won’t let you call us and Heather seems to think you aren’t our son” (in response to my husband not communicating with them for a while, being upset of his own accord – Heather didn’t do anything); I’m cooking whatever the hell I want. I also wanted to spite Hello Kitty Toaster – I know how much she hates carbs and thinks that vegetables are fatty, so I wanted to plan the meal to be as carb- and veggie-filled as possible. And under no circumstance was I going to be making California-Italian. No sir – they feed themselves enough of that slop every other day of the year. And I hate it.
In the end, I decided on: stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini rollups for appetizers; buffalo-style chicken legs, fresh baguette, Chicago-style thin crust pizza, garlic-sauteed mixed green veggies, and a caesar salad for dinner; and a stained glass cake and lemon pie for dessert. It’s just enough for the eight people that are going to be here, and all relatively easy for me.
Do you see what I did there, though, faithful blog followers? I already started in with the Pinterest junk.
Ten years ago, I would have said “pizza.” Now it’s got to be qualified as Chicago-style thin crust pizza. Ten years ago, I would have said “some appetizers.” Now it’s stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini roll-ups. If I were really going to go all out with the Pinterest crap, I’d say bleu cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites with a hint of garlic and onion, and zucchini roll-ups filled with ricotta and spinach. And not only did I feel I needed to qualify it all, but it has to look amazing when it’s presented as well.
So I spent about twenty minutes standing at the box window in my kitchen – where I keep all of the serving platters – deciding what platters would be best for presentation. Will the stuffed mushrooms, BLT bites, and zucchini roll-ups fit on here uniformly? Can I layer the chicken on this platter so as to display the bleu cheese crumbles? Will the presentation of my stained glass cake show the stained glass pieces on this dessert stand?
Oh for Christ’s sakes – shut the fuck up!
There was a day when dinner was just dinner. People came over and unless it was professionally catered (and even sometimes then), the meal was just a meal. No one cared about the presentation. Serving platters (versus the cookware the food was cooked in) were things for pretentious people, and pretentious people only. You never saw little place card signs stuck into various pieces of fruit listing the entire gamut of ingredients in the dish. Hardly ever did you see things like personalization of wine bottles, napkin rings, and elaborate centerpieces. No one ever stood around worrying whether or not their chicken could be stacked to properly display the bleu cheese crumbles sprinkled on it. People didn’t waste their time on bull shit like that! And most importantly – more than anything – you didn’t have a bunch of saps all standing around and marveling at the food; most certainly never taking photographs of it.
Pinterest and Instagram have ruined my life. Has it ruined yours?
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