Hospitality is about…the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to the ordinary events of life…Dorothy Kelley Patterson
I am so blessed to have friends scattered throughout my “territory”. Whenever I travel for business there is no better way to shake off the day than to be welcomed home to somewhere where a friend lives. It starts with the smell of something amazing on the stove, a hug, an “I love you”, a glass of wine and a seat at the table.
When the catching up begins all the usual conversation ensues, the talk of work, their former work, the talk of fond memories of former colleagues, of grudges still held, the usual gossip and the grapevine’s latest rumors. All of which are just a prelude to the amazing thing on the stove finally coming to the table.
My friend George is becoming quite the chef, not cook, chef. He is developing a honed love of the process, the curiosity and palate required to cook with abandon. He hasn’t moved off the recipe book yet but he is ever so close. I’m pretty sure his specialty will become comfort food. He speaks those words as if they were a gift to him from above. From what I can see, smell and taste he is but a moment away from being a dedicated resource for my future questions on the matter.
The menu was simple on the surface, braised beef short ribs, creamy mashed potatoes, and steamed green beans. Beneath the surface was the complexity of seasoning, the brown of the fond and the hours required to bring perfection. It was an amazing meal which led us on to the subject of our favorite meal ever. You won’t be surprised to know that I have a list…just sayin.
My favorite meal ever was a fresh pork roast, butchered that morning on a farm in Ohio. I was the guest of a business client I was visiting several decades ago, their kindness in my being far from home wasn’t just touching but so genuine. I truly believe they had a part in developing my joy and willingness to open my home and cook for anyone who walks in the door.
The pork roast was accompanied by roasted carrots and potatoes pulled from the ground that same morning and cooked in the roasting pan with the pork. That’s it. I could not stop eating. It was the most delicious meal I have ever had to this day and I’m sure they are still talking about the city girl that acted as if she had never eaten before. At that moment I realized I really hadn’t ever eaten before, certainly not food like that.
As my friends shared their favorite meals I came to realize it isn’t just about the food. Each of our stories had a story. The meals were delicious certainly but it also had much to do with the company, the circumstances, the locations, the feelings that went along with the meal like a very special sauce. I’m sure if anyone of us had the opportunity to smell that meal again we would be flooded with the nostalgia of those moments, not just that meal itself.
And so I’m adding George’s now famous beef short ribs, mashed potatoes and green beans, served with a wonderful Malbec (similar to the one used in the sauce) to my list of favorite meals. In addition to the wonderful comfort it brought it was shared with friends I love, in a warm and eclectic home that has been collected over time, at what I hope is the end of an extremely long and very frigid winter.
“Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.” Charles Pierre Monselet