But this weekend it became official. I actually live here. Why you ask? Sure I've been doing laundry, cleaning the house and going grocery shopping - all habitation activities. But this weekend I hosted my first dinner party in Tokyo. In L.A. I hosted dinner parties all the time. It's what I do. I've always wanted to be described as an "exulted hostess" or a "celebrated beauty" the same way they describe the heroines in romantic novels. I know, I'm weird.
Russell wanted to invite his entire team over to show his appreciation for all the hard work they've been doing. Originally we were going to have sixteen people. His employees, their significant other, friend or spouse (they had to choose one of the three) and us. Russell wanted to have an "Americana" meal. I refused to make hamburgers and hot dogs, plus it's still the rainy season, so we could not assume it would be grilling weather. I decided to make Jack Daniel ribs. Nothing says American like giant slabs of meat and JD. We'd serve salad accompanied by a baked potato bar with all the usual suspects (bacon bits, chives, sour cream and butter). And for dessert there would be my special brownies (not that kind of special) with ice cream. But first I had to figure out if I could get all the ingredients.
Thank goodness for Costco or as they say in Japan: Cost-ti-co! They had the ribs and the potatoes and the most important ingredient - the Jack Daniel's. "A little for me, a little for the recipe". Why do you think I chose this? I had to go to two other grocery stores for the rest of the ingredients.
In L.A. I have sets of dishes and serving trays. I can serve up to twenty people. But in Tokyo I have service for six and that's it! I didn't think I'd ever be hosting more than can sit at our dinette table (6). I wasn't going to go out and buy ten new plates so we settled on paper plates. I'm not really a paper plate kind of girl but it seemed the only way. Sigh.
Admittedly I have a tendency to go over the top when it comes to parties. But I just want it to be, well, perfect. I like to create themes and build my parties around them. It's my creative outlet. I want people to have a sublime experience when they come over - beginning with the decorations, to the food and wine, and especially to the fact they're not allowed to help. This is probably because that's what I want when I go over someone else's house. To be a guest. To be charmed. Sure I always offer to help when I do go to a party. But I don't want my guests helping, unless the theme is a cooking party. I just want my guests to enjoy.
Since allegedly it's Summer here (even though it's either raining or overcast everyday), I chose a garden theme. We found these lime colored flower buckets at Ikea which gave me the idea.
Honestly I was a little intimidated about having everyone over. I was afraid I was going to offend someone inadvertently because I'm not aware of Japanese party customs. Like perhaps it's a no no to serve pork on the last Saturday of the month, or eating off paper plates is a sign of disrespect or worse. I know they like to drink a lot. At least that's what I'd heard from several, non-Japanese sources.
Russell thought I was being silly. Even so, I made a point to ask one of my Japanese/American neighbors a few questions just to be sure. She looked at me like I had two heads when I posed the question. "Are there any Japanese customs I should be aware of, so as not to offend my guests? I'd read once you're not supposed to give gifts in sets of six because it's bad luck." She politely explained pork is fine and there's really nothing for me to worry about. I got the distinct impression she thought it was dubious the spouses would come. She said if they did I should recognize what a big deal it is for them. "It's one thing to go over a peer or subordinate's house, it's quite another to go to your boss's house." When I commented that it's a big deal in America too; she just gave me a look that said I don't get it. Ah ignorance is bliss.
But she was right. From the time Russell invited them (three weeks in advance) to three days prior to show time, the number dwindled from 16 to 3. Three!!!!! A lot of them had bonafide reasons but still. Thank God I waited until a week prior to buy the food. I'd be eating pork for months! As it is I'll be eating pork for a week. But the good news is - we could all eat at the table and no paper plates!