And here's the thing -- it won't stay on that shelf long, because it's got recipes! So far, I've made the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and -- I don't want to overstate this, but -- they were possibly life-changing! She is so rapturous in her description of risotto that it's on my "must-try" list. Honestly, every time a chapter ended in a recipe, I grabbed my phone to add ingredients to my perpetual grocery list.
This is her third book - I read Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet last year and loved them both. She writes beautiful, essay-like chapters - each one offering an honest glimpse into her life and inspiring the reader to savor, well, food, of course, but more importantly, friendship and family - the people we gather around our tables. She connects tastes and smells to most of her best memories and demonstrates her love for her people by feeding them (and she's not even southern!).
A few choice morsels I'm lingering over:
On perfectionism inhibiting hospitality --
"…but it isn't about perfection, and it isn't about performance. You'll miss the richest moments in life -- the sacred moments when we feel God's grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love -- if you're too scared or too ashamed to open the door…"
On Christmas - and chaos in general --
"I prayed for new eyes to see, for a way outside myself and my tense, swirling chaos. As I slowed down and listened, three words laid themselves on my worn-out spirit like a blanket: present over perfect…Either I can be here, fully here, my imperfect, messy, tired, but wholly present self, or I can miss it -- this moment, this conversation, this time around the table, whatever it is -- because I'm trying and failing to be perfect…this season I'm not trying for perfect. I'm just trying to show up, every time, with honesty and attentiveness."
Maybe it's the particular season I'm in, but those words were balm to me. To hear someone say that saying "no" can be an act of faith, that I am more than what I "do" and that I'm called to live with intention, hope and love in the present. And it is enough.
Ah. (Now, on to the grocery store! Anyone know where they keep the risotto?)