(This rerun is from a post I wrote last summer about entertaining, Lake Geneva style. If only more of my city friends would understand this…)
You have little doubt figured out that I love food. I love cooking food. Eating food. Reading about food, as my subscriptions to Saveur, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet attest. Talking about food. I think people who don’t like to eat food live miserably lonely existences (not unlike the life that Michigan accuses me of leading), and it’s a certainty that their dull, uninterested palates leave their soul craving the spice that their mouth forbids. It’s the best time in our history to be a foodie, and I find myself far from alone in my pursuit. I may in fact be the only Realtor in Walworth county who has a whole pork belly hanging in my basement gloriously maturing into pancetta, and I’m certainly the only Realtor in Lake Geneva to have a whole pig outdoor rotisserie on order, but this love of all things food has pervaded our entire culture. Just this past weekend I was reading in the Trib magazine about the entertaining and pig roasting escapades of Chicago’s own Steve Dolinsky, better known as the Hungry Hound to my Chicago friends. Steve has a block party in Bucktown every year, and throngs of people, including celebrity chef Rick Bayless, turn out to eat roast pig and other delicious accoutrements. It’s a summer time party, full of laughter, wine, and kitsch. It’s a bash that city folks might generally love, and country folks might generally abhor, but it’s a bash no doubt. I get why it’s fun. I get that it’s cool. I would love to be invited, but I think I have a better idea.
Not that green indoor outdoor carpet lining a city alley doesn’t sound campy and sort of cool, but I just can’t shake the thought that there has to be a better venue for this sort of party. Warm alley breezes are certainly not on my list of must smells, and the heat that a city generates in the summer pervades every nook and cranny, no matter how strong the breeze may blow. The carpet can only cover so many potholes, and while eating succulent pig with friends and family is definitely my bag, there’s just something missing. No matter how friendly neighbors are, and no matter how much wine flows, there’s no escaping the heat. The heat that wafts through a city and provides a sweet smell as only neighborhood dumpsters, heated to the point of exhaustion can emanate. The party sounds great, but I think our Bucktown friends need to add a little lake to their lives.
I hope now I’ve sufficiently convinced you that I “get” the whole city block party thing. I hope you don’t think I’m a countrified hick that just wouldn’t understand the merits of a good old fashioned sweat fest in a back alley, because it does sound like fun to me. The problem is that I’ve enjoyed way too many food based bashes in my life, and I know where the best place to hold one is. Sweet alley, sweat inducing breezes are nice, but nothing beats a cool lake breeze on a hot August afternoon. Nothing beats the feeling of cool as you prepare food next to a lake that promises refreshment for all without a moments notice. A roasting pig, a few dozen friends, kahki shorts and loose white polo shirts, cradled lakeside on someone’s real lawn, now that’s perfection. See, city folks, I get the funky coolness of green indoor/outdoor carpet dressing up the alley, but don’t you see that naturally cool green grass on the banks of a beautiful lake is so much more refreshing. The vacation home provides that, and the atmosphere and enjoyment experienced at a lakeside cookout is aggressively better than any city cookout imaginable.
This summer, let’s put some real grass under foot. Let’s relax on the shore, knowing that if it did indeed get a little too hot after working over a roast pig all afternoon, a dip in the lake is far more fun and festive than a cold tile lined shower could ever be. If you want to impress your friends and satisfy your neighbors, find a lake home, and move the alley bash to the shore, and see which party your friends speak more fondly of. (Rick and Steve, I’m talking to you). You guys are great, but you need to add more lake to your summer, and I don’t mean the big angry green one.