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Resisting "hostess with the mostest"

Monday, May 31, 2010

Resisting 'hostess with the mostess'
Pam Peters-Pries - 05/31/10
Mennonite Publishing Network
On a recent vacation I browsed through several copies of Martha Stewart's Living magazine from the library. Each issue was a feast of gorgeous photographs and spectacular ideas.

Martha's magazines are seductive. As I flipped through them, I dreamt of my friends' accolades as I placed perfectly plated and garnished meals before them, the reputation I would earn for being "the hostess with the mostest."

But then there were the haunting, darker thoughts: What if the Layered Spring Omelet didn't stack up as prettily as in the picture? Would people notice if I used plain old table salt instead of the coarse sea salt listed in the recipe?

Reading Martha's magazine, you start to think it's not simply welcoming friends into your home that matters. It's the effort and expense you incur to host them, and the impression you make with very tricky recipes that really counts.

I found an antidote for my Martha-induced anxiety in Doris Janzen Longacre's gracious and lucid introduction to the More-with-Less Cookbook. Could Doris have foreseen how Martha Stewart would influence us when she said: " ... the fact that in North America we tend to feast nonstop can dull our festive joy ... We require more and more trimming to turn any celebration into a meal distinguishable from our daily diet."

Or when she said: "Serving guests becomes an ego trip, rather than a relaxed meeting of friends around that most common everyday experience of sharing food. Gathering around the table in fellowship turns into entertaining."

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia wouldn't be the vast empire it is today if everyone heeded Doris' timeless advice of 35 years ago: "Hold in clear perspective the reason for celebrating. Don’t expect food to be the total experience. More with less means affirming faith and relationships as the basis for celebrating, and letting food play a complementary role."

If the world had a little more Doris Janzen Longacre, and a little less Martha Stewart, we might all be enjoying our gatherings with friends a lot more with a lot less. The next time you're fretting over those fussy garnishes and mismatched table settings, put that Martha Stewart magazine away and go back to your copy of More-with-Less.

Doris has some really, really good advice for you.

Pam Peters-Pries is a writer from Blumenort, Manitoba. Reprinted from the April, 2010 issue of Purpose, a monthly publication from Mennonite Publishing Network that offers inspiration for daily Christian life. Go to for more information.
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  • ANNANN63
    And let's not forget that when we try to make the food so special it is frequently high in sugar, fat, and calories. There are rare few people in the USA who really need that kind of food.

    Just think of a beautifully arranged plate of fresh ripe fruit dip and one of fresh vegetables with simple low calorie dips. Very simple yet so wonderful.
    3248 days ago
    Thank you!
    3249 days ago
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