I love entertaining, whether it's a small group on the porch, a crowd for Frogmore stew in the kitchen, or an all out bash with 150 of our closest friends. (That last one only happens once a year.) All of our parties have one thing in common: my favorite blue pottery chip-and-dip dish. Nothing says "party" at our place like pulling that dish out of the cabinet. Along with most of my fellow southerners, I believe every gathering needs food for dipping! That dish has seen a lot of action.
I bought it myself, years ago, at a favorite local art gallery. Whenever I want something for entertaining, I justify it by remembering our small wedding without excessive gifts. This was a good thing because my taste at twenty-three was not what it is today. I've been commemorating our marriage for years, amassing a lovely collection of cocktail pitchers, serving dishes for every occasion, and the occasional piece of silver from EBay.
The dish in the photo is not my original chip-and-dip dish. Years ago, it broke. (I don't know how; no one would admit to having seen it happen.) I waited until the gallery had another one in stock, same color, same size, same potter. Anything else would have been second best. The children know the dish means party and, when they see it, will ask who's coming over and if children are allowed because they know party food is the best.
In South Carolina, we adore our peel-and-eat shrimp. Prime shrimp season starts in May, and the dish will be ready and waiting. Kettle chips and French onion dip, salsa or guacamole and tortilla chips — those are obvious, crowd-pleasing choices. We've also filled the center bowl with hummus surrounded by veggies, or cubes of Italian cotognata, served with sliced manchego cheese and prosciutto. Asparagus with tarragon mayonnaise is a favorite summer choice. For brunch, we fill the bowl with cream cheese and serve it with lox, capers and tomatoes. Gingersnaps with pumpkin cream cheese are a fun fall choice. And you can never, ever go wrong with pimento cheese and crackers.
Do you have a dish that makes its way into every table scape? What are some of your favorite ways to fill it?
(Images: Anne Postic)