Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You're My Obsession

R&R agrees with me. Over the past two days I have managed to do absolutely nothing productive. My day involves moving from my laptop to the sofa to the washing machine (okay, so that part is semi-productive) to the dining room to the bed. I have slept about 20 hours and read MANY blogs. I have also caught up on my favorite new show: Das Perfekte Dinner (The Perfect Dinner).

This show has a very simple premise. Every week 5 people from one city are chosen (they do apply beforehand, so they are not random people off the street). Every evening one of the 5 must cook dinner (appetizer, main course, dessert). At the end of the meal the other four contestants rate the meal on a scale of 0 to 10. At the end of the week, the individual who scored the most points wins 1500 Euros.

I have no idea why I am addicted to this show. Perhaps it is because I get new recipe ideas from watching. Perhaps because it is hilarious to see how some pompous idiot falls flat on his face. Either way, I enjoy it so much that I would like to apply to be on the show. However, the German has given me a very firm "NO" on that.

There is only one thing that bothers me. How do you define "the perfect dinner?" It is amazing some of the reasons that some people deduct points from each other. For example, one person thought that the table decoration was too much. Another person complained that, "Although the food was very good and I am full, it was not a complicated menu to prepare."

Does that mean that the perfect dinner has to be complicated? Last night that was not the case. A perfume maker tried to incorporate as many "scents" into his menu as possible. The result was overwhelming for many of the guests and he only received at total of 29 out of 40 points.

For me the perfect dinner involves a warm host (or hostess), lots of good food, and good conversation. I hate small portions and it does not have to be complicated menu. In fact, where I am from in the South, it would be considered pretentious to make something too complicated and terribly rude to not offer someone seconds.

After discussing this with the German, I realized that the perfect dinner may not always be the same thing in every culture. In fact in some cultures, "less is more" might be perfect; or perhaps even "over the top is better."

Although I will not apply to be on the show, I have created my "perfect dinner menu." It is called "Southern Hospitality."

Appetizer: Shrimp and Grits with Hush Puppies

Main Course: Pulled Pork BBQ with Cole Slaw and Baked Beans

Dessert: Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I am very curious about this. Please post comments. I want to know, what is your idea of the "perfect dinner?" Do you think that the definition of the perfect dinner is the same across countries?


vailian said...

Sounds great to me, but my, my, VERY difficult to pull off in Germany. I would have to look very hard to find grits, or hush puppies, or BBQ sauce, cole slaw, or baked beans.

Apropos portions: my mother (being frugal, Scottish heritage-- and 6 kids to feed) considered a meal perfect when everything was consumed but no one complained of hunger.
My (German) girlfriend is a tremendous cook but insists on neatly doubling the quantity, so that after a dinner party there is enough left over for 2 more dinner parties. (She also allows 1 bottle of wine per person, making for a very merry gathering).

Another big difference between Germany and the US (at least the Midwest) is the time and length of dinner parties. At home the usual meeting time was 6 pm but here it is 8 or even 9; and in America it was not unusual for people to leave after an hour or so; here if I begin to want to leave after 4 hours I get reprimanded by my girlfriend for being impolite.

ann said...

The things you commented on are reasons I can't watch the show. I agree with you that the food should be good and present in adequate quantity, but the gathering isn't usually just about the food, it's about the people and the pompousness (not looking it up) and nitpicking on the show make me a little nutty.

And I think the table decoration is a German thing - just like gift wrapping.

Anonymous said...

Claire - happy belated birthday - by the way over here a hush puppy is a type of shoe??? I am confused! Aoife

Megan said...

I watch it too, but what is it with the whole Tisch Deco thing?? Drives me nuts when people deduct points for it. I actually prefer the promi version because they make more mistakes and take the whole thing a tick less seriously.

I think the idea of a perfect dinner differs more than just between cultures; it's a very personal thing that hangs on the individual. Some want to be stuffed, some want something exotic, others want the familiar...

A perfect dinner doesn't need much: Plenty to eat and drink, music in the background and people who enjoy each other's company. I love having people over for dinner. I'll take that over a club any night of the week.

Dixie said...

I don't think this show is such a good example of what the German culture considers to be a perfect dinner. Much of the point giving is based on stupid things like "Well I gave Ute 8 points two days ago and Wolfgang was on the same level as Ute so I can't give him more points even though I'd like to give him 9." or "I don't want to give too many points today so I have room to give more points later in the week if someone is better." instead of just judging each meal on its own. Or they'll rave over things and then pick on stuff like the table decorations just because they want to have an excuse to give less points so they'll have a better chance of winning.

Do people have fun when you give a dinner party? Does the conversation flow freely and do folks clean their plate and ask for more? Do people return for future dinners? If so, you've had a perfect dinner.

Schokolade Madchen said...

Your "Southern Hospitality" menu makes my mouth water - I haven't thought about grits in months:)

Carol said...

Perfect meal: Grilled salmon, wild rice, a big green salad and grilled corn IN the cob! (Am I from the Pacific Northwest or WHAT?!)

Anonymous said...

This is just crazy. About 8 months ago I was home sick and there was a marathon of this bizarre show wherein people held competitive dinner parties. I never found out the name and searched in vain because it was campy excellence worthy of another view. 'Lo and behold I think you have just provided the name of the show! Very random :-)

And now in answer to your question, this was the menu (vegetarian of course) for my recent summer under the stars gathering. But yours sounds better!

Appetizer: Jicama, Orange, Watercress and Pecan Salad

Main Course: Fusilli with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and Tarragon-Rosemary tofu kabobs

Dessert: Cinnamon-Peach cake


ChristinaG said...

I would make a huge Thai dinner with way too many different dishes (because that's a "perfect" Thai dinner). And I would lose...

I used to watch that show, but got annoyed that the people who make exotic dishes almost always lose. Now I've become addicted to Quiz Taxi. I'm always on the lookout for Renault Espace taxis!