Food is the center of everything that is good. I remember having lunch with Coretta Scott King, Juanita Abernathy, Dr. Dorothy Height, Ambassador Andrew Young, his wife Carolyn and some others. They were talking about their struggles in the Civil Rights movement and I noticed as they recalled all of the major events they participated in, there was a special meal they would think back to, even to the point when Mrs. King said to Mrs. Abernathy, “Juanita, do you remember the last time we had coconut ice cream?” From there, they went on to talk about a historic event that followed.
In Washington, there is a lot of activity around food. But often, the event is far from special, just another catered, mildly-cold meal in a sterile setting.
Since we do a lot of events for just about everything — policy or media briefings, social gatherings to fundraising for charities or even helping with a campaign — we thought why not have these events with home-cooked food, in a comfortable setting?
We bought a skinny townhouse on Capitol Hill and put in a great kitchen to have friends, colleagues, journalists and policy makers. It worked out to be a great idea. We’ve had a lot more fun cooking and enjoying time together.
Of course, only in Washington will you need a 7-page memo from your lawyer detailing the complexities of what can be served to whom, how to record it, who has to reimburse and so on. But so goes the complexities of working in the nation’s capital, where accounting skills are often necessary to serve a meal.
Some of our favorites to serve at the Hill House:
We find with big gatherings, it’s better to do big one-dish meals with a salad. It keeps the event under control and the Houseterns can keep up with managing guests.