Second Rite of Passage: food, glorious food!!

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This time, instead of highlighting a favorite cuisine drummed up by the honored rite of passager, I chose to wallow comfortably in a different direction. Hmmm . . . or should I say Mmmmm . . . what was your favorite comfort food in your teens? That’s the question I asked all the participating ladies for Ginny’s second rite of passage in an email several weeks before, then requested they all bring their comfy contributions to our opening evening potluck.

As we sat down to table, I began the feasting with a quote to honor the theme of the evening. “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”- Thomas Jefferson.

Yes, give this decadent indulence historical backing, that’s what I say!

I continue to reflect on the marvelousness of this moment of cozy culinary array:

“Comfort foods. Delicious, creamy, amazing, comfort foods. From our childhood. From our teenage years. From adulthood. A girl is sitting on a bed in the heat of Kansas summer with a plate of cheese, crackers, and grapes, a book in her hand and the fan on high. That’s one woman’s version. Tearing through the front door on an autumn La Mirada afternoon and hit with the smell of homemade chili and cornbread after a day at school. The anticipation of the pleasure. The desire. That’s mine. Coming home from college and knowing that the requested day-long-in-the-making heirloom lasagne awaits the five home-comers. That’s another’s. No-bake cookies laced with chocolate and peanut butter from mom’s kitchen in Michigan. And yet, one more. Ours for the night: cheesy hash brown casserole, heirloom lasagne, chicken pot pie, sautéed spinach, and coconut cream pie. Heavy on the comfort. Heavy, heavy on the comfort. Stories of food and family. Heavy on the comfort.”

And that my friends, is how we began . . . .!

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First rite of passage: honoring with food

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a feast of Indian cuisine

A daughter’s choices for what to lay out onto the groaning board may not be the same as her mother’s. Me, I enjoy a plethora of samplings from baklava to petit fours, and then a hearty helping of rich, red Italian food (or, should that be the other way around? No. Dessert really should be first.) My daughter, Ginny, would probably choose a plateful of sushi, some recently harvested loose leaf tea, and a whole host of Indian entrees from tikka massala to  aloo gobi. . . and that is exactly what we served on her first rite of passage that Saturday afternoon, with a few spanakopita on the side.

Preparing and serving food to another can be a way of honoring them as well. When we choose to nurture another’s body through good food, we also nurture their unique tastes when we let them share with us the things that bring their taste buds joy. It is like opening a window into their gastronomy, and sometimes it leads to opening doors into our own, as well as trips to markets and restaurants we didn’t even know existed in this world. (Yes, tikka massala is now one of my favorites; I crave that lovely, creamy, orangey-red sauce; I’d better stop, my mouth is salivating).

So to honor Ginny, age 14, at her first rite of passage, I snuck questions in and around our conversations, regarding her favorite foods. “I’m going to the store, honey. I’m not saying I’m going to get any of the things you say, but if you could pick anything out for dinner this week, what would you pick? I mean anything!?” (I’m sure there are other, even less obvious ways in and around the question.)

On the day of her rite of passage, the honoring of Ginny’s taste buds was in full swing; there was hot tea in antique cups, sushi in round sticky circles on a platter, crunchy triangles of Greek spanakopita, and a healthy offering of Indian food. And I have to say, every stomach was satisfied because every stomach seemed ready for the adventure.

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another cake from another celebration, but you get the idea! let it explode with enthusiasm!