Monday, September 23, 2013

Dinner on the Fly

"Hello?" I said holding the phone to my ear while juggling four bags of groceries. 
"Let's do dinner at home tonight," the deep voice of Mr. Wonderful said. 
"Sounds great."
"Brian and Chad will be joining us."
"Sounds busy--"
"We'll be there in 20 minutes."
Sounds crazy!


After a long week of work, meetings and extra phone calls to plumbers who could--then could not--do the job in our backyard trench, I was looking forward to a quiet, stress-free Friday night. Clearly Mr. Wonderful had other plans and they included his ravenous 30-something friends, Brian and Chad eating, and yours truly cooking. 

In Los Angeles everyone says "I'll be there in 20 minutes" but everyone knows they're lying. Going from point A in the city to Point B in 20 minutes is--to be blunt--impossible. In fact, getting from the Santa Monica Pier to the adjacent Santa Monica Beach takes 45 minutes, give or take an hour for parking. 

The only exception to this 20-minute rule was Mr. Wonderful driving from the work studio back home. For that one journey, the man had a knack for doing it in 20 minutes. Which meant I had exactly 20 minutes to prepare a meal for the hungry hordes. 

I acted in steps:
1) First, I put the groceries away, aka I dumped the bags into the fridge.
2) Then I counted the mouths to feed. We would be just four adults but three men's mouths equals nine women's mouths. Suddenly I was cooking for 10.
3) What fed a lot of people? Pasta, of course! Luckily I keep a stash of pasta on hand at all times. Tonight was no exception. Congratulated myself on being so organized.
4) Put pot of water on stove top to boil said pasta.
5) Searched pantry for pasta sauce. Found none. Cursed pasta sauce hoping it would magically appear in pantry if I cursed enough. (It didn't.) Cursed myself for being so unorganized. Remembered seeing eight tomatoes growing in the backyard that morning. Ran to veggie patch only to discover The Squirrel had eaten all eight of my tomatoes. Cursed The Squirrel for making my life harder and for eating enough tomatoes for 20!
6) Remembered I had a lemon shrimp pasta recipe. 
7) Defrosted shrimp, cut parsley, squeezed lemons. Cut finger. Cursed The Squirrel because all this was his fault.
8) Checked clock. I had five minutes until their arrival! Set table, uncorked wine, set out two bowls of nuts to nibble on.
9) Sprinted to closet, changed clothes--six times.
10) Dumped everything into pots and pans while using my left left foot to put on lipstick.
11) Mr. Wonderful walked through the front door with two famished friends in tow.
12) I dished up the food and the 10, I mean four, of us sat down at the table outside, under the stars.

Watching the men eat and hearing them marvel over the flavor of the food, warmed my heart. They raised their glasses and toasted to the cook. I smiled and thanked them before adding:

"Twenty minutes ago when my husband said he was bringing two friends home for dinner, I told him: 'that sounds… perfect'."

And it was.