If there’s one thing I miss about college life, it’s the proximity to my friends. Yes, sharing 600 square feet with three other girls became grating by senior year—in retrospect, I think we were literally running into each other in our tiny kitchen. No, I don’t miss our upstairs neighbors; christened “The Stompers,” they not only enjoyed jumping (with astounding force) from their bunk beds at 7 a.m., but also played five instruments between them (badly, and loudly).
But nothing beats the commiseration/coffee breaks with friends as you lock yourselves in the library together, or the run-ins with casual acquaintances that you can’t really orchestrate. My college campus did all the social heavy lifting, which is especially important when you’re an introvert like myself. Just by virtue of bumping into characters on the street, I received party invitations, fell into impromptu catch-up sessions, and found company for walks to the farmers market. No effort necessary! Life was good.
Now that everyone has moved to different parts of Washington or the world, I’ve had to adapt. And for keeping in touch with friends still in the area, I’ve found that the dinner party is a lovely thing. No matter that I don’t yet own a table, or chairs—who doesn’t love a picnic? Wine is just as delicious served out of teacups, which happen to be the only glasses I own. My remaining D.C. friends don’t know each other? No worries! Shared meals encourage easy conversation and laughter. (Conveniently, so does wine served in teacups.) And when I burn the chicken while waiting for guests to navigate to my new suburban abode? It’s okay. Molly Wizenberg‘s Hoosier Pie is there to save the evening, stuffed with pecans, bourbon, and orange zest.
When I decided to invite a couple of old friends to dinner recently, this pie was a part of my formula. It was sort of a Southern housewarming for this new-to-Virginia girl: Cajun-spiced chicken and pecan-based dessert, a Creedence Clearwater Revival record (they sound Southern, at least), and some good old-fashioned hospitality. In addition to the delicious confection pictured above, that Southern hospitality is something I’m sure I’ll be hanging onto — even for an off-campus social effort, this felt as easy as pie.