Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sunday lunch.

I have finally set the date for my Azeri friends to visit us. 

Having had most of my local friends stopping by for weeks already to cuddle the new baby, I am yet to host a proper Azeri lunch for my Azeri friends. There are a few reasons they have not seen the baby yet. First of all, I was technically allowed not to invite anyone for the first 40 days. (very grateful for this rule!) 

Second of all, I would have to prepare enough Azeri dishes to feed an army. Considering that the baby is still relatively new, the nights are still disturbed, and I am secretly hoping nobody expects the dishes to be that impressive.

However, this azeriness becomes a huge issue for all of us when it comes to friendship and seeing each other.

A while ago, a bunch of Azeri girlfriends living in London decided to get together and make it into a regular thing. I have to confess, it started with me. It was my fault. I decided it would be a good idea to gather us together in a form known as devichnik- a girls only get-together.  Of course, it being a devichnik, I thought it was appropriate for everyone to bring a dish. About seven of us sat around the table and laughed and ate and drunk and had a great time.  I thought it went really well.

In a couple of months, following an unspoken etiquette, another one of the seven girls kindly invited us back to her place. However, being a proper Azeri, she cooked beautiful dishes- all by herself. She made a delicious plov, a chicken Levengi and tasty salads. It was very generous of her, and everything was incredibly tasty... However, it took a long time before one other girl dared to invite everyone back. It was difficult to beat the previous spread, you see, but she tried and succeeded. She served even more starters, even more impressive selection of meats and two hot dishes. I guess not surprisingly, nobody else took turn after that. I mean, the girl served roasted pheasants, for goodness sake! After we’d had plov and Georgian Satsivi chicken. 

So, I guess I should not have been that surprised when none of the other girls invited us all back. The idea of getting together on the regular basis at somebody’s place got quickly replaced by ‘oh, shall we meet up for a movie?’ and then simply died altogether. Because neither myself, nor the other two mugs were happy to continue serving frigging pheasants, or any other extravagant birds for that matter, to the rest of the group when they were not reciprocating.  I personally have a huge issue with people not reciprocating. That is a separate topic altogether and one of the very early ones on this blog. But, in this case, it is understandable that the other girls felt intimidated by the roasted pheasants. It stopped being a fun party of a few girlfriends getting together for a glass of vino and some gossip; and became a competitive Azeri food making festival.  

So why am I telling you all this...Well, I have to think of the menu now, in preparation of my Azeri friends’ visit in a week’s time. I need the food to be tasty and plentiful, yet I don’t want to go mental. This is not an Azeri wedding I am hosting, but a Sunday lunch with a few friends. I want them to enjoy themselves, and yet... not feel like they have to cook days in advance next time they want to see me. Really, I just want to see them and share some food and drink with them. So, maybe pizza?


  1. I think the idea is to have a great moment together rather than being all anxious and stressed about serving "the" dishes, food, meal et al.
    To me, hanging out with friends is about that, and I think there is no need to make it a scary Sunday lunch.

  2. That's an example how well-meaning Azeri hostesses can take all the fun out of a get-together :) If I were you, I'd exploit the fact of your new motherhood and serve something really simple. By the way, hingal is very easy to make with store-bought lasagna 'sheets'. Couple that with some nicely sliced fresh reap veggies/greens that are in season now, and you've got a real Azeri meal.

  3. Well, it's one thing when you're trying to be yourself and do what you are comfortable with (buying some food from an Azerbaijani/Turkish/Iranian restaurant) and another thing if you are trying to impress them or are scared they will discuss you behind your back. If that's the case, then it's not real friendship and you are better off not having those get-togethers at all. I personally don't like cooking and my friends know and accept that. If they don't like the food I serve, next time they are free to bring something with themselves or not come at all. But I am not going to work my ass off just so that someone is pleased.

  4. so, maybe marks and spencers?
    you can't go wrong with a bit of markies deli food!

  5. @Inara: You say that, but look at your cooking! :) I bet you impress everyone when they visit.

    @everyone: I have to admit my mother is still with us. which means, I am hoping to get some help with cooking. and we wont go crazy. Just something simple and tasty. and just distract the men with vodka.

  6. Pizza is a good move. Your burgeoning bosom will already inspire envy; a humble dish calculated to satisfy rather than awe will help to defray their feelings of inadequacy. That is, until one of them appears in a Rolls Royce and another, fashionably late, arrives by transport helicopter. How you'll cope with that, I have no idea. But this vodka thing you're talking about can't hurt.