Tag Archives: dinner party

El Plato…The Take-Home Plate

29 Jan
Carne Asada Taco

Image by revrev via Flickr

I don’t know about your culture, neighborhood, or upbringing but in my inner-city, working-class, Latino culture there is something called el plato…the take-home plate. Whether it’s a quinceanera, birthday party, baby shower, bachelorette celebration, or Tupperware party you got the take-home plate. There was an etiquette to these social gatherings — a certain unwritten code of behavior that my people followed. As a guest you didn’t even have to ask. It was just something given to you, like the air you breathe. However, this day was only the second time in my 35-year existence that it didn’t happen. It was weird…like an inexplicable X-Files that Moulder and Scully needed to investigate.

I didn’t know what to make of it. I mean I barely survived my mayonnaise chocolate cake encounter the other day through the awesome power of  Sal de Uvas Picot antacid. I mean even the Mayonnaise Lady offered me a plate home…granted it was denied because I was on the verge of throwing up, but it was offered. Perhaps  things were changing, but when I got home I realized they hadn’t.  

There I was enjoying the baby shower festivities, which included a nice carne asada tacos, rice, beans, and tostadas. I thought I was having a great food weekend with the spring rolls and cookies and then this savory meal hits my taste buds … whoa. Did I have seconds? Yeah… I did. I even had thirds. My people make enough to feed King Kong’s family. There’s no shame in getting thirds, my people encourage the curvaceous look.

As the celebration came to an end, people started picking up casseroles, moving chairs, cleaning tables, drinking Budweiser and singing Chente’s Volver Volver. Vincente Fernandez‘s song for those of you that don’t know, this is THE HYMN that usually appears towards the end of the festivities. Drunk and sober people sing it all the time.

So as I’m making my good-bye rounds, I notice I’m getting closer and closer to the door and no plato in sight. I make my final good byes to the guest of honor and her family at the door and nothing.

I linger…still no Dixie plate with aluminum foil any where in sight. But I know they still had enough food to feed half of the New York Giants. So I try to drop some hints.

“It was a great party. The food was great. So delicious.”

“Mmm-hmm. Yes it was. We have so much of it.”

“Oh yeah it was good.”

“Thanks…Glad you made it out.”

“Oh, you were?”

“Of course! We always love having you ladies over.”

I glanced over her shoulder. Nothing. No more stalling. It’s just not coming.

“Well, O.K. Gotta go.”

They stare at me. I stare back.


I open the screen door and leave. No carne asada, no rice, no beans, no salsa. No plato.

 I walk through the door at home. My mom sits on the couch watching something  Don Francisco related. I put my keys on the table and sit.

“What happened? I thought you went to a party?”

“I did.”

Y el plato?”

No plato.”

“No plato?”

“No…no plato.”

“What happened?”

My aunt walks down the stairs and says hello. She looks around the kitchen and table.

“So you didn’t go to the party?”

“I did.”

Y el plato.”

“No plato.

“Do they not like you?”

“Yeah they do… just no plato.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, not anymore. But initially yeah they did.”

My husband comes down the stairs and gets a beer from the fridge.

“Where’s the plate?”

“No plate.”

“No plate! What’s up with that? Was it an unvitation party?”

“No dude. They like me. There was just no plate.”

“Not possible. Maybe they don’t like you enough.”

So after a thirty minute analytical  inquisition by family I realized, sometimes there are just no plates. Not even an offer of one. It happens. People have brain farts all the time and the unwritten rule remains unspoken and without action. You chalk it up to too much alcohol and their family living on the west side.  

West siders…an interesting no-plato species.

The Spring Rolls and The Cookies Killed My Phone

27 Jan

I hadn’t been out since my All-I-Wanted-To-Do-Was-Leave-by-8:00 adventure.

I was ready to have dinner made by anyone else but me and not have to wash the dishes or baby bottles.  So I prepared myself to fight traffic and drove about 45 minutes to a friend’s house for a girls night. Beverages included.

I  arrived after the designated dinner time, as any insane mom does, but there was plenty of food waiting for me at the table. Just sitting there on square white plates, saying giddy up girl. Dig in, because you have no square plates at home.

I must have eaten at least 20 spring rolls and 10 pot stickers. In addition I ate a generous Claim-Jumper portion size of the most tender steak, with savory salty drippings that were sopped up by my mouth. No need for bread.

I was like a caveman. I just couldn’t stop eating. And then came the cookies. Warm, soft, gooey. I ate 11. I thought a dozen might be too many. I didn’t want to get crazy. So instead I ate two more spring rolls. I sat there in a food coma. Happy that I didn’t have to serve anyone for once, or hear anybody crying for a bottle, or whining about bath time, or talking about golfing the next day, or getting sassy with me in Spanish.

I savored the moment. So I took another cookie. Why not? 12 is a good number. But maybe 14 is better. Maybe another spring roll.

As I sat there chit-chatting with the girls and continuing with my buffet, I heard the latest romantic adventure of my newly engaged friend, whose story made me re-live John Cusack‘s boombox scene from Say Anything. Complete I-love-you moments. It was like watching a Beaches commercial, except the actors were hot Latinos instead of bouncing blond people.

But I could feel my stomach getting bigger and bigger.

I had to do it…no choice. Didn’t need a muffin top overflowing the waist of my pants. So I unbuttoned the top button of my jeans and sighed.

After a while I went to use the facilities and as I tried to fit my stomach back into my pants the top copper button flew out. I’m not a big girl by any means, but it shot out like a bullet. Granted they were older jeans, but they were Lucky Brand. These buttons were authentic hardware woven into my vintage pants with steel-like thread. Must have used some hard detergent and it loosened it accidentally

No. Not it. Let’s stop playing these games. The button just couldn’t take it anymore. Powerful spring rolls. 

In any case I found it near the bathtub and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to place it on top of the toilet tank. So as I reached over to put it there I heard a plop and then a clank hit the toilet.


My cell phone had decided to jump ship and drown itself in the toilet. Now I’m nothing like Howard Hughes, Howie Mandel, or Monk with that OCD crazy clean factor, but toilet water is not appealing. I was going to let it drown but I figured I needed the pictures on the phone camera more than anything else. So I plunged in and quickly rinsed the phone off in regular sink water. I figured it drowned already what’s a little more water going to do. Then I disinfected my hands with massive amounts of soap. It said antibacterial on the bottle, so I was hoping it did its scientific thing. If there were Comet or Ajax I’d be up to my elbows on that one, but I thought anitbacterial…99.9 percent is all right.

I figured after my button and phone, it was time to call it a night. Besides I had to make it back in time to feed the baby when she woke up at her regular midnight-what’s-up-mom routine. I also wanted to get my phone as dry as possible, perhaps use my Con-Air Infiniti blow dryer, which was so successful with my computer.

All in all it was a good night. And then I returned and just like clockwork midnight approached and there was the baby sending out the blissful sounds of  whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa through the airwaves. Toys everywhere. Bottles on the counter. Dishes in the sink.

I’m glad I took an extra cookie to go. I should have taken a spring roll too.