Through television and network strongholds, food has become a public culture of its own, escaping the confines of the everyday kitchen. Some resist this idea of food as entertainment in the television era, but that doesn't mean they don't go hand in hand. Food, I believe, is the platform to entertain and create pieces in time that transcend mealsof- the-moment. Although I find myself taking mental tabs of dishes and ingredients I have praised, more often than not, my brain's rolodex is organizing memories around the idea of that meal, the atmosphere, the people, the conversations— whether it's documented on digital media or not. Food nourishes. Food fuels. And food is also in the DNA of my most incredible recollections of time shared with loved ones.
I like to think of entertaining not as the satisfaction of the immediate, of what's put in front of you on display platters and fine china, but as the ability to take pleasure in knowing what's to come—the reminiscence of moments that's possible down the line. Surround yourself and those you love with no-hassle meals and let the magic of memories unravel.
One thing's certain about the process of entertaining, and that's that filling a home, a patio, or a dinner table with guests truly calls for simplicity. Really. There's a time and place for elaborate dinner scenes, but I find hospitality shines through with low maintenance. Dip-filled casseroles bubbling with cheese make a welcome appearance next to cheese platters and ready-to-bake hors d'oeuvres. Endlessly variable, our Super Bowl must-haves (page 16) highlight the multi-tasking nature of dip mixes and sauces to bring to life unforgettable game day fare. Because sure, years down the road you might not recall the score, but you'll certainly never forget the easy-as-pie recipe for those sweet and spicy Korean-style wings. Simplicity is also a mainstay as we search for gourmet ready-to-cook soup blends and mixes (15) that come to the rescue for feed-all meals. A no-cook entertaining staple, the curated charcuterie board stacks sopressata, prosciutto and salami high—a crowd-pleasing favorite, no doubt. But those meats need company. And that's where our roundup of high-and-mighty cheeses (9) and artisan flatbreads (20) come into play. This is entertaining 101—so sit back, take some notes, and welcome your customers to a course on memory-making entertaining through food.