Do you ever have defining moments in your life? Eye opening, “aha” moments? I had one. And it involved an olive dish.

Yes, an olive dish.

It was an olive dish that made me realize I’d never be that kind of hostess; the kind of hostess who takes her guests on an unforgettable culinary journey, with beautifully prepared meals, made from scratch, presented on chip-free, elegant dishes, complimented by creative cocktails garnished with mint grown in and picked from her garden earlier that day.

Yes, that’s what an olive dish taught me.

olive-dishI was at a friend’s house for a dinner party, and she served olives. But not the way I would serve olives. She served olives.

She put the olives in a long, rectangular, curved olive dish, sort of like an upside down rainbow. A dish designed to highlight and showcase each and every individual olive. A dish that someone probably hand-painted in a small Italian village with paint made from crushed flower petals. (Or something ridiculous like that.)

I remember thinking “I can’t ever host a party like this… I don’t have an olive dish!”

And I honestly believed that for awhile. The pressure to host the perfect dinner party stopped me from ever having one. I felt this incredible pressure to impress my guests with the food I served, how I served it, what I served it in, the wine I paired it with… Everything.

And then one day, while I was out shopping, I saw an olive dish. It wasn’t as nice as the one my friend had, but it was the same curved upside down rainbow shape. And instead of thinking “I need to buy this so I can host a dinner party!” I looked at it and thought “Where the hell would I store that?”

It’s long. It’s curved. It doesn’t fit with any other dishes. You can’t stack it. It would take up a shelf all on its own. Where the hell would it go when it’s not on display? I don’t have room for something like that in my house.

And that’s when I realized I don’t need an olive dish. If I want to have friends over and I want to serve them olives, I can throw some olives in a cereal bowl. Or on a plate. Or hell, leave them in the container they came in and just take the lid off.

The olive dish anxiety was all me.  None of my friends were putting this pressure on me. I was putting it on myself. And why? I know my friends love me. I know they’re not judging me. I know they don’t care about how I serve my olives.

And once I let go of that personal pressure, I was able to enjoy hosting my friends at my house. So what if you won’t see any Instagram posts of my perfect dinner party, with a colour coordinated table, cloth napkins and matching dishes?  What you will see is Instagram posts of my friends smiling and laughing, while they drink their beer, eat their frozen pizza, chips and salsa and maybe a few olives…

Right out of the container they came in.

And I’m okay with that.