When I was a young girl, I remember my grandparents (Mathias & Nora) would have people over to their house almost every weekend for barbeque, beer and friendship. They lived in a 5 room house and the kitchen was tiny but they always seemed to have room for all their guests. My grandfather would barbeque sausage, chicken, and ribs (beef, not pork) and my grandmother would make rice, beans, & macaroni salad (which I didn't learn to appreciate until I was older - nothing more disgusting than macaroni salad when you're a kid) and usually a homemade pastry like empanadas. The beer and drinks were abundant. My grandparents weren't rich so providing a big meal like this for a lot of people was a real sacrifice. The Martinez house was THE party house and everyone knew it. My brother and I would love to watch everyone drinking, dancing and having fun. You knew it was a party when the Mariachi music started (Vicente Fernandez, of course) and my grandmother would start to belt out "Volver, Volver" (look it up) after a few too many beers (these days, she denies that she ever drank beer, she's 89).
I'm a pretty good hostess - I always have enough food, go to extra effort to have special cocktails for my guests, provide extra touches like flowers. But hostessing is about more than just providing food & drink. You have to open your home and your heart to your guests like my grandparents did. You want your guests to feel like family and that the party was no trouble at all but we all know it's a lot of work and expense to have a party on any level. My grandfather was the most gracious host I've ever known No plate was empty, no thirst unquenched, no discomfort felt by anyone in his home. Contrary to George Lopez's version of what happens at parties with a lot of Latinos, NO ONE ever got out of line at my grandfather's house. Mathias wouldn't allow anyone to make a scene. And every party was successful as a result i.e. Police were never called = successful party. Those parties are some of my fondest childhood memories.
Who knew that a tall, Mexican sheet metal worker from San Antonio would be my ultimate hostessing role model?