Saturday 17 March 2018

A Hen on the brink

Never the bridesmaid, Sophie White lamented her lack of bridesmaid status until planning the hen and realising an event management qualification might be required

Raw quinoa seeds
Raw quinoa seeds
Sophie White

One of the Bitchherd is getting married. Natch, this is beyond exciting. We haven't had a wedding in the group for almost three years, so we've been starved of a good shindig for a while now. The lady in question decided not to choose bridesmaids.

She maintains that this is for diplomatic reasons, which is fine, except that I seem to be performing all the functions of a bridesmaid, with none of the perks. Maybe I wanted to attend the event wearing a coral taffeta nightmare, involuntarily involved in an unofficial contest of 'who wore it better?' with three of my closest friends. I've never been anyone's bridesmaid, so I have to say I'm feeling a little cheated. Unluckily for my friend, I have this quite public forum in which to air my grievances.

Before, I couldn't understand what people were complaining about when they bitched about being a bridesmaid. My own three were the dream bitchmaids. They arranged a brilliant hen party with apparently no fuss - that I ever got to hear of, at least - made wildly funny speeches at the wedding and helped me make endless reams of bunting. All without a word of complaint. Not like some unofficial bridesmaids I could mention.

I recall no particular conversation that appointed me as hen party coordinator. I think I just started doing it after many wine-fuelled chats opened with the words "let's talk about the hen", but soon segued into showing each other dresses on Asos that we may or may not buy for the wedding.

It wasn't until Himself got an invitation to the groom's stag that I realised we were way behind on this thing. The situation was clearly dire if the men had managed to get their shit together sooner than us.

For me, something can often be stressing me out for ages in a low-level, background kind of way, before panic kicks in, and when it does, it usually strikes at the most inopportune times. In the case of the hen, I was navigating Ikea, when the urge struck to get something organised right there and then. As if the very fact of being in Ikea with a one-year-old wasn't stressful enough, I decided to start the planning process by remote.

Suddenly it became totally clear to me why she hadn't asked me to do this - I am terrible at organising things. Himself planned our entire wedding on his own, my only input was the aforementioned bunting. I began putting in calls to every hen destination you could think of, but with four weeks to go, I was practically laughed off the phone.

The whole experience led me to conclude that there is a market for a company that organises hen parties, which I voiced to Himself. This was met with amusement. "Loads of companies do that," he replied. I was disgusted; he had watched me desperately trying to source penis-shaped paraphernalia and accommodation for 18, and never mentioned that I could outsource the entire headache to someone else.

After much flailing about and clutching at straws, I have managed to cobble together something resembling a hen party, though I am terrified at how enthusiastic the attendees are. The email thread is awash with exclamation marks and "this is going to be the best night ever". It's all so much pressure. Pressure which, naturally, I am also compounding by cooking for everyone. So what to cook for 18 women who are in training for dresses that they optimistically bought a size too small? Something claiming to be healthy like this delicious quinoa and swordfish dish, that's what.

Swordfish and Quinoa Salad with egg and parsley dressing

Serves 4.

You will need:

200g (7oz) quinoa

4 swordfish fillets

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for frying

100g (3½oz) cherry tomatoes

4 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons of capers

A generous handful of parsley

Juice of half a lemon

150g (5oz) rocket

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions. Check that there are no bones in the fish. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and add a little olive oil. Put the swordfish fillets in the pan along with the cherry tomatoes and griddle each side for 3-5 minutes or until the fish fillets are firm and cooked through and the cherry tomatoes are charred.

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and finely chop them, along with the capers and the parsley, then mix together in a bowl with the lemon juice and the tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the cooked cherry tomatoes through the cooked quinoa along with the rocket, and divide among the bowls.

Place a swordfish fillet in each bowl, on top of the quinoa and cherry tomato mixture, and spoon over some egg and parsley dressing.

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