The Crudite Platter.
There it sat for the gazillionth time, mournfully overstuffed and surrounded by thinning trays of cocktail bruschetta and miniature quiches on the buffet table, a beautiful composition as untouched as those Dutch and Flemish still lifes from the 17th century.
After I loaded the vegetables into plastic bags, I couldn't even give them away to lingering guests.
Did I mention the accompanying vat of Really Good Dip that got dumped?
As much as we give lip service to eating our vegetables, our social aversion to the crudite platter could be something cosmic, like a collective reluctance to disrupt the symmetry of an orderly arrangement, a metaphor for our fear of world chaos and a matter for our therapists.
I personally think it's just a fear of shared saliva.
You know, double-dipping.
I free-associated the concept of double-dipping for a while, banishing from my mind the term's strong association to government employees drawing two salaries. At some point I thought of ice cream. After the passage of more time, I thought of cones. Then (eureka!) vegetable cones. Or rather, cones in individual serving sizes for vegetables.
To make them, I use heavy paper from the craft store, printed on both sides so I can alternate the patterns. Trace a circle on the paper using a 5- or 6-inch diameter bowl (you can usually get four circles per sheet). Cut, then stick a glue dot on one edge (tape isn't strong enough), shape into a cone and press. I also add a same-size circle of parchment paper as a liner, no glue needed.
For a recent party I filled cones with both veggies and multicolored vegetable chips (the kind that look like oversized potpourri when in a bowl) then nested them in a breadbasket lined with decorative paper shred. Until it began emptying out, the colorful shapes looked like a centerpiece.
I accompanied it with individual ramekins of Really Good Dip. (Thinly slice and cook a large onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat until the slices are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Mix with 1 cup sour cream, 1/4 pound softened cream cheese and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise. Proportions are flexible. Whirl in a food processor if you want a creamier consistency.)
The caveat is that when the cones are arranged upright and begin to leave their nest, the remainder tend to loll around the container like hung-over revelers.
Haven't figured that one out yet.
Let me know if you have any ideas.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.