Some days I get stressed out by the daily slog of life. Wake up, make coffee (uh oh, we’ve run out of coffee. And cereal and peanut butter, sandwich meat, anything you’d like to eat), shower, dress in stifling office clothes, see your jeans sitting there, wish you could be wearing them instead. Sit in traffic on the way to work. Entertain yourself at work, forget about actual work you should be doing. Get hungry, drink more coffee, go down to food court. Decide between Subway and McDonald’s or the convienence store’s packaged chicken salad. Or the greasy pizza and gravy brown chicken in the pseudo-Starbucks. Wonder if this is all life has to offer, hope for something more. And then come back upstairs, sit in front of your computer, read the New York Times food section. Decide to have friends over for dinner.
Having friends over for dinner is one of the best perks in my life. To have friends who like to eat and sit together, drinking wine and discussing our life is one of the great blessings given. In a modern world too often fueled by short tempers, fast food, sugar rushes and crashes, more convienences but less time, more education but less wisdom and houses constructed in suburbs that ensure no community creeps in we are often set afloat, floundering among skyscrapers and highways, hoping to find a connection to others.
My favorite way of doing that is to have people over for dinner. To cook for them, open a bottle of wine, sit down together and revel in food and discussion. Food and wine opens us up. It reminds us that despite our lofty ambitions and our fast gas-guzzling cars we really only need simple things to survive and sometimes the simplest of things can be a pleasure, reviving our spirits and drawing us into that human communion that we so often need and so often overlook.
Tonight I plan on keeping it simple. Nothing over the top. Unusual, yes, but Italian, and therefore comfortingly familiar. Roasted artichokes, tomatoes and olives with mussels. Asparagus risotto that I mentioned below and didn’t make last night, saving it for tonight.
Someone’s bringing the crusty bread. Someone else will bring the wine. I also asked for strawberries for the chocolate ice cream. I’m going to pour my honey basil vinegrette over it for a tongue tingling summer dessert. We’ll sit on the back porch of my mother’s house with candles around since there’s no outside light and I will sit back to listen as conversation starts around me.
When I started looking for some pictures to go along with my dinner post I searched with the keywords ‘wine’ ‘bread’ and ‘candles’. I had forgotten how many religious themes are tied up with those three things. Jesus refers to himself as all three at one point. Specifically when he’s at a dinner with all of his close friends. From this we get the Communion in Christianity. I find it fascinating that these things, bread, wine, light and friendship can create such a strong bond for people, one that has been recognized and celebrated from the earliest days of civilization. When my friends and I gather for dinner together we’re not only strengthening our bonds with each other but continuing that legacy left us by our forefathers. That makes me feel a part of this huge world again.