Many, as much as they wish to do so, cannot invite often because their financial capacities do not allow it. There are, however, those who pretend to be in a well-off, non-existent situation and in this case, there is nothing as painful as those evenings when the lady of the house has borrowed the lace table cloth from her rich cousin, the ‘good’ glassware from her neighbour, the silver tray from another and therefore she is on pins and need les at all time, terrified at the thought that someone may break something.
Accommodate according to the possibilities
Guests should be well received, but always according to ones means. It is pointless to have a great lunch party if you then have to tighten your belt for a week right after. It is best to have a simple yet well-cooked lunch party.
It is useless to use very expensive glasses, plates and table cloths; it only takes an immacolate simple table cloth and a table arranged elegantly.
It is useless to serve too expensive and strange liquors if you can’t afford it. But even worse is serving bad and cheap liquors. It is better to serve a drink, a really good and refreshing one.
Finally, it is better to arrange a simple afternoon tea, with good canapés and sweets, rather than a lunch that may unbalance the family budget.
A French family used to make up for the missing chairs with coloured cushions arranged wittily on the floor; they used to arrang every simple lunches, but cooked splendidly by the members of the family themselves; besides water, they offered only white or red wine, not the most expensive brand, but an excellent one.
Not everyone, of course, has the talent to do things so wittily and so brilliantly, nor can they cook so well or entertain so pleasantly guests.
But one thing is certain: when someone wants to look different to what he is and gives more than he can, he always creates a sense of discomfort in the guests.
The guest is sensitive and unconsciously perceives all the nuances, he senses when something is not right.
Let us not forget, then, that we invite our friends to share with them what we have, not to show that we have what we cannot actually afford.
(Taken from La Cucina Italiana. Magazine for families. Founded in 1929. February 1962)