The Forgotten Art of Dinner Parties

A dish of braised and browned lamb with peaches that I cooked at home in Houston and, yes, tweeted.

A dish of braised and browned lamb with peaches that I cooked at home in Houston and, yes, tweeted.

Even people who aren't social media fans know that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and their lesser known brethren are common platforms upon which people post what they eat. Sometimes it's what they ordered at a restaurant. Sometimes it's what they cooked.

It's the latter that gets me.

With all these people talking about fantastic meals they're making—and sometimes posting photos of these dishes on social media—why aren't I invited?

What happened to the old-fashioned dinner party?

Other gatherings still happen. At-home parties tend to be game nights, wedding and baby showers, and holiday-gift exchanges. Each of these parties includes food, but it's typically snacks purchased and laid out for pass-by munching. Yummy—but not made by the host or the attendees.

I miss home-cooked, sit-down dinner parties.

As a single girl, dinner parties give me the chance to cook something interesting. Many recipes don't reheat well, so they're wasted on the solo diner. For dishes that do reheat well, there's only so much of any one item I want to eat in one week’s time. (Thank goodness for other single girls, who often swap homemade leftovers with me.)

My dinner parties are small affairs—just enough people to cook for easily. I don't do anything too gourmet—just a hearty, home-cooked meal. It makes me happy to get to do something I enjoy, share it with a handful of friends, and spend quality time with them in the process.

People are so surprised at a dinner party invitation. And when they arrive, they're stunned that I cooked. At each party, someone asks, "You made this? Yourself?"

I remember my parents having six to eight people to dinner once every few months. They sent my brother and me upstairs with delivery pizza to watch television. When we were very young, they hired a babysitter to stay up there with us. Given that I remember babysitter and nonbabysitter instances, these parental dinner parties must have regularly occurred over a number of years.

What changed? Why are dinner parties a forgotten art?

Should we blame the omnipresence of restaurants, which offer an almost endless variety of professionally cooked meals at generally reasonable cost with no need to clean up? Perhaps people aren't as comfortable as they used to be with letting people into their homes? Has reality television with its mansions and millionaires--and the Food Network with its impossibly gourmet dishes--made people self conscious about their houses or their cooking?

People clearly haven't forgotten how to cook, if social media is any indication.

What do you think? What happened to dinner parties?