May 13, 2010

Welcome Mat

Some people put out a “WELCOME” mat to make their guests feel wanted. I let my kitchen do the “talking” for me. I love to cook. And I love to spend time with my friends. Since my S.O., Grant, moved in with me, a few years ago, I entertain less than I used to, but I still love to have friends over for dinner.

In my former house, which was built to my specs, there were windows all over, and unless the a/c was on and the house closed up, visitors approaching the door got a “preview” of the night’s menu that wafted out the windows and bade welcome to their olfactory glands. More than once, an unexpected visitor (or delivery person) arrived when dinner was cooking and begged (not always teasingly) for an invitation.

In my present condo, the kitchen is close by the front door and windows. I have become “famous” among my neighbors: “Something smells wonderful. Cynthia must be cooking again.”

Whether I’m cooking for guests or just for Grant and myself, the aromas are a promise, and the actual foods are a kiss from my kitchen, a hug from my house. Sometimes I even get the benefit myself of walking up to the front door and getting that divine welcome. Though I won’t leave the house with something on the stove or in the oven, I do leave with the crockpot going, returning to follow the heavenly scents that make their way down the building’s catwalk, all the way to the stairwell. I tease first-time guests that they don’t need directions to find my apartment. “Once you’re in the parking space, just follow your nose upstairs.”

My late mother was shocked at my daring: I feed guests new recipes I acquire without trying them out first. But I can usually tell how a recipe reads, can judge if it’s going to be good. I’ve been wrong a few times, but not often. What my mother termed “foolish” and “risky,” I prefer to think of as “adventurous” and “confident.”

My olfactory welcome mat didn’t work with one friend; his sense of smell had ceased to function, and he couldn’t even tell that I was cooking, when he came over. But fortunately his taste buds were still in good working order, and he always enjoyed the dinner.

As I write these words, Grant’s gone to the store for the necessary chicken for tonight’s dinner for my friend Natalie. I already have everything else in the house that I need. When she arrives, she’ll be greeted by the usual “welcome mat,” the scents wafting out the door. And I know she’ll feel welcomed.

~ ~ ~

Author of over 50 published books, including The Cook-Ahead Cookbook (Bristol/Nitty-Gritty) and many books on other subjects, Cynthia MacGregor is a full-time freelance writer/editor. She is available to write, edit, ghostwrite, and do public speaking. Her website is, and her email is [email protected]. She lives near West Palm Beach.

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