Think cookouts are all about freedom - cook what you want, how you want, when you want? Yeah, sure, if you’re cooking for one. But if you’re hosting or attending any cookouts this season, and hope to see these people again in the future, you are bound by a surprising number of codes of conduct. Ironically, these issues come to the fore as Independence Day approaches.
Now’s the time to stare down any hot topics so you know where you stand on each. Below are the ten key questions you will inevitably need to ask your host, or answer for your guests, before a single coal or burner is lit.
The new season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 6. Whet your appetite.
Black swan. Unborn puppies. A hundred live doves “baked into a great pie” and prepared to “burst forth in a swirl of white feathers.”
Those are some of the dishes I decided not to attempt for my Game of Thrones-themed dinner party.
George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books are famously long (1,040 pages for the latest installment), and roughly 50% of the word count is devoted to describing what the characters are eating. One wedding feast features an ode to most of its seventy-seven courses; even a rundown of frozen defense outpost’s dwindling supplies is good for a three-page litany about storerooms filled with “potted hare, haunch of deer in honey, pickled cabbage, pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled eggs and pickled herring.”
The HBO series embraces the books’ gluttonous spirit: The producers got a castle banquet into the very first episode.
For food fans, this is clearly a challenge. A thrown gauntlet. One week ahead of Game of Thrones season 3 premiere, I rounded up a few of my geeky friends - and some novices we hoped to convert - for our own recreation of a Westerosi feast.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Though there are plenty of drinks that have had New Year’s connotations over the years—mead, beer, mulled wine, you name it—the bubbly stuff, i.e. Champagne or sparkling wine, is really the spot-on gift if you happen to be headed out to a party or three.
The thing is, wine with bubbles ranges wildly in price; a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay will set you back about $2,000, whereas a bottle of André Cold Duck (no vintage on that one, strangely enough) will damage your finances to the tune of $4.50 or so. So, to make life easier, especially in this last-minute-what-do-I-do moment, here are some suggestions.
Vegetarians are (mostly) not here just to ruin your good time. Really. I swear. I was one, myself for seven years and all I wanted at a cookout was to hang out with my friends, and not have to worry that the omnivores would gobble up all the meat-free sides before I got to the table.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of the season and make sure all my guests leave full and satisfied - no matter how they choose to chow down.
To help keep the peace with her in-laws during holidays, Julia Smith adopted a rule several years ago about talking politics: Don't do it, and don't take the bait if anyone starts in.
Her relationship with her father-in-law in particular had always been fraught with tension, said Smith, who asked that her name be changed to preserve family relations. She was the "screaming liberal from New York" who'd corrupted his Texas-bred son into moving to "Taxachusetts" and voting Democrat. As far as she was concerned, he was a good ol' boy who didn't like to talk politics as much as preach his views.
Her resolve was put to the test three years ago at Thanksgiving dinner, right after Barack Obama was elected president. She was picking at her turkey when, she says, her father-in-law suggested an act of violence toward Obama.
She attempted to keep cool by gathering her children and leaving the table. But then he repeated it at dessert.
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