Me, Mine & Irene… An informal, formal dinner party

My friend Irene (fashion designer & lecturer) is doing a course in creative problem solving through coursera… & I got to join in the fun last weekend because she needed someone to document her assignment.

My introverted husband was stuck choosing between having the kids on his own over lunch time as well as the afternoon (I had an afternoon appointment), or joining our little spectacle. Everything was already set up by the time he & the kids arrived, so I think it was probably less traumatic than expected… But I found it thoroughly exhilarating.

So whats it all about? 🙂
As I understand it, she had to do something different in terms of eating, in such a way that it challenged her norm.

As a single lady in a small flat, she usually eats alone. So she set up a little dinner party in the food court of a large shopping centre (Canal Walk). This is usually packed with people eating takeout from one of the many options surrounding it. There is also a massive TV, so people there seldom seem to engage each-other in actual meaningful conversation.

We covered out plastic coated table with a white damask table cloth and crochet overlay, and proceeded to set the table with silver cutlery, champagne glasses (plastic champagne glasses for the girls), Norataki crockery, candles and a single rose in a vase.

There was a young girl who was slumped over a table next to a man who was probably her father, but who was so intent upon the sport on screen that he may as well have been a stranger. She lay there staring longingly as we set everything out, chatting & giggling as we did so.

We were between a man on his own, & the screen. He kept looking down with a curious & amused expression while we were setting up. Eventually the family on the table next to him asked me what it was all about, and he started to settle after hearing the answer.

Two of us went to get the take-out once everyone had arrived & we got Grapetizer so it would look like champagne. It was really fun to use silver to eat our take-out off fine china. It didn’t attract nearly as much attention as expected, possibly because of the rugby game on screen, but it still got some interaction going between people there. A few even talked to the person next to them after looking at us.

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After our take-out, we had home-made waffles & farm honey for desert. An unusually yummy end to take-out! By then everyone around us seemed set upon ignoring us, but by then we were having real fun.

It was such fun that I hope to do something similar again.
It was one of the few challenges available to MY eating, since I sometimes like to start my dates with dessert and end with starters. I also like to serve cooked breakfast in the evening (my husband loves it & there is no time for it in the morning). Lunch with the kids often involves cookie cutters; making pictures with our food, combining fruit, veg etc all on one plate; peanut-butter waffles or almond flap-jacks with peanut-butter & fruit; or breakfast cereal topped with nuts, cranberries & seeds.


My food allergies, my eldest’s allergies (fortunately outgrown), my mum’s diabetes, and various peculiarities in my extended family & friends’ eating requirements, have all conspired to train me in creative substituting & manipulating of almost any home meal or bake. Admittedly, this suits me just fine, since I get bored easily & have always struggled to follow someone else’s recipe exactly multiple times. There is just so much to learn & observe from experiments in cooking & baking…

But I had completely missed the opportunities to observe and experience, that were offered by Irene’s dinner party.

Thank you, dear friend!


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