We’re thrilled to bring you another edition of Entertaining Exchanges with host Lillian Medville of Lillian’s Test Kitchen. Her parties sound like a heck of a lot of fun.
Zokos: Think back to the most recent dinner party that you hosted or attended. What was the best part of it?
Lillian: My ultimate frisbee team got together last week for a dinner party potluck style to watch the semi-nationals (College frisbee) on TV. I made a strawberry rhubarb pie (grain-free, vegan, cane sugar-free, and corn-free) which was devoured in literal minutes (that always feels good). No one else on the team has food allergies, but they all know me, so when I got there I was presented with my very own bag of Cape Cod Potato chips (which I can eat) and my teammate who brought the salad, went out of her way to double check that everything in it was safe for me, and then she guarded it from cross contamination all night. I felt included and cared for in a way that I rarely am. It was fantastic.
However the best part of the party wasn’t really the food (although that was tasty). The best part was talking trash with my team. The game turned out to be pretty boring, the coverage was more on the side of hilarious than anything else, but it really didn’t matter. The game was the reason we all got together that night, but it really wasn’t the focus or the point. The point was hanging out and laughing with 11 of my favorite people.
Zokos: Explain how the most recent dinner party you threw was different than the first dinner party you ever threw. What has changed since you first started throwing dinner parties? Why?
Lillian: I used to get super nervous about hosting parties. I would feel both nervous about having so many people in my space, and anxious about providing good enough, and just enough food and entertainment. I’ve always had a lot of different kinds of friends from different worlds, and the thought of those worlds colliding was enough to keep me from inviting anyone over, ever. I don’t know if I just have cooler friends now, or if I’ve just grown up, but I don’t worry about it so much anymore.
Now I love being the host. Part of that probably comes from my control issues around food. Because of my food allergies (gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy) I rarely am able to eat safely at other people’s houses. But when it’s in my space, I know where all the food has come from and what it has touched and know that it is safe for me to eat it. And plus, I get to show off a little bit. My friends who live close to me don’t tend to have food allergies, so I like playing the, “Guess what this is made of!” game. I love it when someone tastes something, like my Chocolate Mousse and get’s their mind blown to pieces when I tell them that it’s made of avocados.
Zokos: What are the top two items – not ingredients- at your house that you find yourself using over and over at your dinner parties?
Lillian: Music, and games are the essentials.
I love game nights. Lately we’ve been playing Pandemic! Which is a cooperative game that pits you and the other players against 4 diseases that are threatening to destroy mankind as we know it. It’s a game that’s big on strategy and is super fun. It’s also super morbid. But what can you do.
I have a few playlists that are my go-tos. If it’s a bigger event or a dance party, I’ll make a playlist specifically for it. The last game night was a lot of Belle and Sebastian, Band of Horses, and Miles Davis. The last dance party there was a lot of Jay-Z, Rihanna, Cyndi Lauper, and Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Zokos: What is the best dance move to break out at a party?
Lillian: The running man. It is my favorite go to dance move to break out at a party. It’s requires absolute commitment in order to do it right, is completely silly, really not sexy, and is also kind of fascinating in a train wreck kind of way.
Zokos: Do you ever cook for people with conflicting food preferences / allergies? How do you resolve the dilemma?
Lillian: The best way to deal with people with conflicting food preferences and allergies is to talk to everyone to make sure that they are all safe and to also stay flexible. I wont make individual things for each person, but I will change my plans to accommodate different needs. For instance, I have a good friend who is a vegetarian. Our diets are almost the exact opposite of the other. She eats grains, soy, sugar and dairy, but no meat. And meat is almost always in the center of my savory meals. So while we can both chow down on some vegetables, and do, I like to keep things simple, and so I tend to invite her and her fiance over for dessert.
Dessert is something we can both eat and enjoy. There is no haggling or anxiety over what to make, or if there is enough food for her. I would really hate to not have enough or the right kind of food for her. And I wouldn’t want to put her in a situation where I’ve made a roast chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli and only feed her the potatoes and broccoli. That’s not the whole meal, that’s part of it. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to skip the whole thing entirely and just eat some chocolate together.
For instance, at a game night I might make a mango smoothie and some vegan chocolate mousse with berries. That way we all get to eat together, no one feels left out, and all have a great time racing against time to save the world from disease. Basically, everyone wins.
Zokos: What is your favorite cocktail to serve at a dinner party? How many is the
perfect number of them?
I like bringing drinks that can be alcoholic or not depending on what kind of mood you’re in. Lately, I’ve been making my own lemonade and bringing that to parties. While squeezing enough lemons to get a cup of lemon juice requires a little work, it’s totally worth it. I don’t drink much, but I’ve been told that it is super tasty with a little vodka or tequila.
As for the number of drinks, I think a good guide would be to drink enough to get a little loose, but not so much that you start hugging other girl’s boyfriends or crying about how much you love your platonic friends. So somewhere in between there is probably the ideal number.