family, Food, life, love

Feeding People

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The hub and I were hunched over the dining room table working one of our annual week-between-Christmas-and-New-Year jig-saw puzzles when my daughter entered saying, “Except for red wine and martinis, Shauna Niequist and I are the same people.” Then she sat down and read this excerpt from Shauna’s new book, Bread & Wine:

“For the record, my last supper meal looks a bit like this: first, of course, ice-cold champagne, gallons of it, flutes catching the candlelight and dancing. There would be bacon-wrapped dates oozing with goat cheese, and risotto with thick curls of parmesan and flecks of black pepper. There would be paper-thin pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella and slim ribbons of basil, garlicky pasta and crusty bread and lots of cheeses, a plummy pinot noir and maybe a really dirty martini, because you might as well go big on your last night on earth. There would dark chocolate sea salted toffee and a bowl of fat blackberries, and we’d stay at the table for hours and hours, laughing and telling stories and reaching for one more bite, one more bite, one more bite.”

Actually, my daughter and I are the same people because I love everything in that list except red wine and martinis, too.

This afternoon I caught her approving smile out of the corner of my eye as I stood at the meat counter of a nearby market ordering – and shelling out a pretty penny for – a Niman Ranch beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied.

On the car ride home she said, “I never really understood love languages until Shauna called food a love language. I always instinctively knew it was one, though.”

“Shauna said food is a love language?”

“Well, not in those words, but it is implied in her book.”

“Maybe it falls under an “act of service.”

“No, because it is the actual food, not just the preparation of it, that makes me feel loved. Remember when Aunt Laura ordered all that really good food for that family get together? She did not prepare it, but it made me feel special because she ordered the best of everything.”

“That might fall under “gifts”, or perhaps the sixth love language would be “feeding people.””

Either way we agreed that nothing makes you feel unloved and un-special like quick and easy. I realize that not everyone has the budget for beef tenderloin, but you can make whatever you can afford special by putting a bit of presentation and pizzaz into it. Nothing ruins a holiday dish like someone saying, “it was quick and easy.” Oh, okay, well glad you didn’t go to any trouble, you wouldn’t want your guests to feel special or anything.

Go to a holiday dinner at my mother’s or any of my sister’s houses and the food will be carefully and lovingly prepared, the table will be beautiful and there will be an aura of special. And that makes my daughter and me feel loved.

Tomorrow night my husband and I are having a couple over for dinner. Now that they are empty-nesters and their lives no longer revolve around their children’s activities, they are trying to reconnect with old friends. So late last summer they invited us over for a barbecue. We are reciprocating with a New Year’s Eve dinner. For those who share my love for food, I will be serving beef tenderloin (which is dry-brining, uncovered in my basement fridge as I type) with homemade horseradish sauce. Along with it I will serve garlic mashed red-skin potatoes, caramelized butternut squash, peas cooked with green onions and a blue-cheese, walnut salad. Crostini spread with triple cream brie and a dollop of cranberry/rosemary/balsamic vinegar/thyme compote for the appetizer.

Dessert will be chocolate pots-de-creme and french-pressed Santa’s White Christmas coffee served with all the accoutrements – cream, whipped cream, mini chocolate chips, rock sugar and cinnamon sticks.

The female in the couple does not cook, does not care about cooking, hates that her mother-in-law keeps giving her gifts from Williams Sonoma (hey, pass them my way if you aren’t going to use them). Let’s see if the love and care and special touches I put into tomorrow’s meal make her feel at all loved, at all special.  I know I’ll enjoy it.

Tonight we’re having hotdogs.

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