Taken from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa Family Style.
Several years ago, a friend of mine decided to impress her new husband by making him Thanksgiving dinner. She prepared the turkey, put it in the oven, and said, “Let’s take a walk while the turkey cooks.” When she came back to base the turkey and hour later she found that she couldn’t open the oven door; apparently, instead of setting the oven on “bake,” she had set it on “clean!” “Patti! What did you do?” I asked her. “Well,” she replied, “I served the turkey with lots of gravy. It was very clean!”
We all have disasters and of course they only seem to happen at the worst possible times. I’ve planned to spend the day cooking and then had an emergency at the office. Or I’ve invited four people for a cozy dinner in the kitchen and they’ve each called to ask if they could bring their houseguests (a particular favorite of mine!). A friend once gave a dinner party for twenty and as she was leading everyone to their seats, she discovered that the dogs had jumped on the table and eaten all the appetizers.
If something like this happens when you are entertaining, don’t panic! If the problem can easily be fixed, then certainly fix it. If it can’t, just get past it! Go into the living room, clap your hands, and say, “Well, the dogs ate the appetizers, so we’re going directly to the roast chicken!” Instead of making your friends uncomfortable that you’re stressed, go on with the evening. And, if worse truly comes to worst, you can always order Chinese takeout and serve it on your best china with a glass of champagne, and you can all have a good laugh about it for years to come.