I would be lying if I said my family needed an excuse to throw a dinner party. Everyday is a dinner party.
Living with a chef, life is food-focused 90% of the time. The other 10% is allocated for sleep, but if dreams about mealtime count, then closer to 95% of our daily lives are spent around the table or planning what to put on said table. Before James came along designating me as household sous chef, my Italian heritage had already placed food at the core of my identity. My tapestry was woven in edible thread from the beginning. Pastas, pastries, produce and stew. Wake up thinking of breakfast, finish breakfast to begin planning lunch/dinner, and at dinner's end dream of dessert. The next morning, the cycle continues and it begins again.
When I began writing this journal a few years back, I had selected the title "Pensive Foodie" for myself because a) I am an avid overthinker, hence pensive, and b) I relish in eating, cooking, reading of food, the foodie. The term "foodie" carries a pretentious connotation for some, insinuating refined culinary endeavors and tastes. Me, I enjoy food in its simplest forms. Crisp cherries, a warm chcocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven, or a crusty grilled cheese dipped in tomato soup. I'm no authority on obscure ingredients and don't use them often. I was raised on nourishing basics and never wanted for anything; happy and fed. Whatever was left in the refrigerator became a hearty soup, frittata or pasta.
I'll likely never be the caliber cook my grandma is. Her generation has something special that isn't readily replicated; I have much to learn from her. Making mistakes, and accidentally cutting or burning myself is commonplace. I still follow recipes most of the time and am more than contented to watch James in the kitchen, chopping vegtables by his side rather than do it by myself. I embrace my shortcomings but the ease and comfort with which he prepares food inspires me to become better. He assures me it takes practice and lots of mistakes to hone any craft. Regardless of my appreciation for the simple, I greatly admire the awe-inspiring skills of innovators in the industry, would skip, hop and jump at the opportunity to eat in lavish locales, and gawk with benign envy at folks who've made food a sustainable living whether styling, writing, or photographing. Nonetheless, I savor my personal dialogue with food - cookbooks, takeout, burnt cookies and all. It's in my power to orchestrate a dance among the ingredients, rendering the sum far greater than its parts and that's special to me.
That brings us to Sunday. We don't make a habit of following soccer, but the World Cup final gave us the opportunity to make a few themed dishes. For the Argentines, we planned empanadas and a German potato salad for their opponents. Mom tracked down an authentic Argentinian market for the pastry circles. James instructed me in preparing the filling- ground beef, onions, garlic, green and jalapeno peppers, chili powder and a collection of other spices. It simmered long and on low. I turned out the pastry circles on to a floured surface and topped each with a generous helping of beef. I spread water around the perimeters and each empanada was sealed with a fork. In to the deep fryer they went. Meanwhile, I prepped a corn and black bean salsa, tapenade and guacamole for dipping. The lines blurred between the culinary traditions of multiple countries that afternoon but it was pleasing overall.
We bit into piping hot empanadas, burned our tongues, and soothed them with fruit filled sangria. Animated conversation filled the kitchen and living room. After we had more than enough savory, coffee and cupcakes were dessert. The match began and we passively watched; it was never about the game anyway.