As we sit together at tables spread far and wide, connected in ways that (not long ago) seem like science fiction, let’s take a few minutes to think about why we gather together to celebrate. For many, the smells and sounds of a busy kitchen are quintessential to the holiday experience. It is because these recipes and traditions are part of our familial history, our ancestry, and our cultural heritage. Indulging in the dishes that evoke our greatest gustatory recollections is bringing to life our fondest past. Sharing these is an act of kindness, an epicurean gift passed down from generation to generation. In the words of the great Craig Claiborne, “Cooking with care is an act of love”. We gather now not only to enjoy a meal, but to share the joy of shared stories and experiences.
It is no wonder that across history and cultures, holiday celebrations revolve around spending time over food. Digging deep to our hunter-gatherer roots, the collection and sharing of food (whether it be around the fire or around the dinner table) is an innately human ritual. Collective efforts obtaining and preparing food ensured the survival of all members, and the story-telling from one generation to the next allows knowledge and traditions to survive and thrive. To come together over fork and plate is part of our DNA, as is the power of food to trigger memory and emotion, through taste, smell and touch. These are all ways of reminding us that we are, at heart, one family.
This remains truer now more than ever, when we may be spread out and unable to gather physically. But like an old recipe, the key ingredients – good food, good drink, and good company – remain timeless, and engaging with them brings a joy that is as familiar as the smells of our family’s kitchens. If the holidays are for the sharing of collective goodwill, nostalgia and laughter, and the simple pleasure derived from a good meal, then let this tasting be our testament to that experience. With it, we hope to bring you all together around one large, virtual table, to enjoy the simple but enduring Convivial Connection of a festive holiday meal. Bon appétit!