Did you know? My brother is a hospitality management major. He kind of copied me, because that was what I wanted to major in before I finally settled on journalism. Also, I told him that you don’t have to study as hard as a hospitality major, so that might have given him an extra incentive to make that choice (not sure if this is correct, so don’t quote me on this one).
But. Back to the subject of hospitality. I used to find it much easier to be a host than to be a guest. I guess I always feel awkward in another person’s private space, especially because I’m a pretty private person myself, and I get worried that I might be be intruding, or making some kind of social taboo.
Strangely though, I thought I loved being a host. I liked inviting people over, feeding them, and taking care of them. Not always out of the goodness of my heart, though. Part of it stemmed from the fact that I liked (like) to be in control of everything, but as a guest…well, you’re just a step under the position of a host. I always thought that the host was King. I thought that being a manager, or a host, meant being authoritarian, strong, decisive, and well…bossy. Everything that my brother was not.
Thus, I was surprised that my brother decided to major in hospitality. But now I realize that he fits the qualities of a hospitality management major much better than me.
In truth, when I look back to my past hospitality events, I was a terrible host. I may have cooked up elaborate dishes, but I harbored many silent resentments towards my guests: Guests who just sat there and asked me to bring the forks. Guests who used too many clean plates for unnecessary reasons. Guests who watched TV in the den while I did the dishes in the kitchen. Guests who spilled grape juice all over the carpet. Guests who talked too loudly, or ate too little.
I did everything that a host should do: invite, greet, cook, serve, clean up. But I didn’t have the heart and attitude of a host. I wasn’t warm and inviting towards them. In fact, by the time they said their goodbyes, I was itching for them to leave, and complained bitterly about them to myself.
You see, when you’re a host, you’re actually really a server. You invite guests over…to serve them, to accommodate them. And thus, you’ve got to be accommodating. And instead of relishing being in control, you’ve got to accept that the guests’ comfort must be put above your own personal comfort. The top priority is to make the guests feel welcome.
Oh, and you’ve got to be prepared that some guests…will be assholes. But you’re the one who invited the asshole. Deal with it. With a gracious smile, if possible.
Well, thankfully, there are no assholes in my bible study group. Each Friday afternoon, I once again take the role as a host, and invite my friends over for lunch and bible study time. So far, no resentments in the least. Yes, I have to do a bit of extra work, but I pretty much enjoy it. In fact, I always look forward to their coming.
I’d also like to think that my friends enjoy being my guests. Particularly because they get to try my cooking. However, little do they know, they’re really my guinea pigs, too. I always cook a new creation for them, and they’re my honest and unwitting taste-testers. Yeah, I abused my power as a host to take advantage of my guests. But hey, so far, they’ve licked every plate spick and span.
This week, I decided to kill two birds in one stone entering my dish for them into this week’s BSI as well. Christina is our lovely host of the week, and she chose sour cream as the secret ingredient. What a coincidence…I’ve only just discovered the tart, luscious wonders of sour cream, too!
I. Love. Sour. Cream. I can’t believe I used to think it was nasty. I was an idiot. But it’s awesome, especially spread on bread…it’s better than that cloying mayonnaise! But sour cream spread on toast is hardly a creative BSI-worthy dish, so I racked my brains and came up with this:
Baked Spring Greens Dip
- 3 cloves garlic
- about 8 cups of fresh Swiss Chard, washed and torn into small shreds (remove stem!)
- salt and pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- pinch of Penzey’s Spices Cajun seasoning from Mara
- 1 large green apple, diced
- about 1/2 cup Korean pickled radish, diced (or regular pickles)
- 1 pack of cream cheese
- 1 lb of sour cream
- 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheddar Cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook the garlic in some EVOO. Then add in the chard, and stir-fry. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Cajun seasoning. Cook until the chard is wilted and shrink in size. Add the apple dices, cook for about 2 minutes:
Then turn down the heat, add the pickled radish, cream cheese, sour cream, and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir until melted and combined. Turn off heat.
Ladle everything into a baking dish, smooth the top. Sprinkle the rest of the cheeses all over. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the top is all golden.
Wow. It smelled freaking WONDERFUL. I could barely concentrate on my homework because of the amazing smell. Is there a better aroma then baking cheese?
The two secret ingredients really made this dish pop and be original:
The Granny Smith apple and Korean pickled radish. For a brief description of this amazing yellow Korean pickle and another way to enjoy it, check out this post.
If you can tell, this is really a variation of the spinach-artichoke dip. But artichokes are expensive, so I used apple and pickled radish instead. And instead of the usual spinach, I fished this humble spring green out of my CSA veggie box:
Gotta love CSA; it makes you think out of the box. This Swiss Chard was so fresh. And huge!
My friends LOVED this dish. They absolutely loved it, and they even scraped off every spot away! I was worried about the apple and pickled radish, but they really enjoyed it. They were also polite enough to bring us things to go along with the dip:
Trader Joes multi-grain crackers
And Trader Joes pita crackers. Obviously they’ve been secretly shopping at Trader Joes behind my back. Hmmph! Gonna need to have a talk with them…
Can you see the specks of bright yellow radish in there?
Or the green apple? I left it unpeeled.
Check out the red stem of the chard in there! Guess I didn’t de-stem it as well as I thought, but it looks good!
If you’re thinking of joining the BSI this week, it might be a bit too late…but check out Christina’s blog to find out the BSI winner, and next week’s BSI host! Regular participation may earn you the position of a BSI host, too. And there will be no asshole guests for this host role, I swear. All bloggers are delightful, gracious guests. Right?
Question of the day: Would you rather be a host or a guest? Have you ever had a host or guest horror story? Or a charming host or guest story? I’m sure Biz has one after hosting a lovely exchange student from Germany!