Cooking for Friends

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. – James Beard

In this often fast paced, head buried in your phone world is there still a place for a home cooked meal? This is the question was raised and debated at our family’s Thanksgiving gathering this year and this question has lingered in my mind and caused me to really ponder why at my core I believe it still matters so much. Why am I saddened by the thought that cooking and sharing meals together might be seen as irrelevant? The pressures of busy schedules, practices and events can make it a challenge, but I can’t help but feel like there has to be a way to slow down and connect.

I was in in the middle of writing my series on entertaining when the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article discussing a new crop of books on dinner parties. The writer Sherrie Flick asked herself this question as she prepared a meal for friends. In the end Flick came to the conclusion that a “dinner party might be just what we need…six people making eye contact around a table in someone’s home? It might be world changing.” So in this frenetic world with busy schedules and take out, slowing down and dining in might just be what we need. I have come to believe that cooking for friends may be rare these days but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

So what is it that I get from cooking for family and friends? It’s more than just the food, because as much as I like to write and share recipes it’s the sense of community that really matters. It’s the invitation and the opportunity to gather and to share in the universal experience of food and friendship. Cooking, like few other things allows you to share who you are and to give something to others. Over the years, I have cooked big meals with pretty tables and last minute dinners for friends we ran into at the airport and they have all been good and memorable. Sometimes with Pinterest and Instagram it’s easy to play the comparison game and think that what you have to give just isn’t enough. Even a girl who writes a cooking blog can from time to time wonder was that dish good enough to photograph and share? Will they really like it?

Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that burgers and chocolate chip cookies are just as good as roasted chicken and a fancy berry cake. In the end, I have come to understand that there is nothing that can take the place of opening your home and table to others. So whether you try one of these dishes or share one of your own, I believe that there is still a deep need and hunger for the connection and community that come with sharing a meal with friends. Cooking for others  matters because when we slow down and share what we have to give it has a way of feeding the soul.

After all of this cooking, Maison McCauley is going to take a short one week vacation as I spend a little time with my girls who have spring week next week, but I will be back soon with more stories, decorating projects and recipes to share.

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