a progressive dinner in three parts

We are hosting the main course of a progressive dinner this evening.

It was my idea. I had heard about this sort of an evening before but never participated in one. The idea of shifting from home to home and course to course, filling an entire evening with good friends, and long conversations stretched out over epicurean delights sounded entirely pleasant. And so I planned one. For tonight. There will be ten of us waltzing from house to house; we'll begin three blocks away, move to our third floor walk up and end the evening at lovely house with a yard.  (I have heard rumors of decadent chocolate for that course and I am looking forward to sitting in blanketed grass of their yard looking up at the summer stars).

But the thing about a hosting a progressive dinner in the heat of July, I am learning, is that serving a party of ten in a small apartment  with no air conditioning and insufficient fans guarantees that the climate will be unbearably hot. And if you are serving an entree to that friendly group of ten, your food must remain hot and ready in the hour (or so) between when you leave your own home to feast at another's home and then return with half a score of hungry people. Anything bake-able (lets say lasagna) would only make the heat in our toasty apartment all the worse. In light of this, I have spent the week searching for a recipe that could be served at room temperature and would not require long amount of heat-creating cook time.

A colleague at my office was kind enough to bring in a stack of cooking magazines on Monday, and every noon this week we have been flipping through the luxuriously glossy pages over our lunch break in search of an ideal recipe.

Finally, an old friend pulled through and emailed me a recipe for a cold Asian pasta dish with green beans, papaya and sesame grilled chicken topped with cilantro, peanuts and a honey-red pepper dressing. Last night husband and I boiled noodles, whisked dressing, blanched beans and tasted nuts till 11:30pm in an effort to keep our kitchen cool come this evening. We even brewed a pitcher of iced white tea to compliment our meal.

They say that you should never serve company a recipe that you have never tried before, but Zack and I are quite confident in the kitchen and have taken this leap of faith. We shall see how this meal turns out...


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