My love of food is an established fact. Look into my eyes as I'm describing homemade mayonnaise, or kohlrabi, or dark chocolate with sea salt, and you'll realize that I'm a fanatic, a taste-sensationist, an enthusiastic eater and judger of texture, flavor, composition.
Food vividly dots my memories as well, as do the experiences that coincide with them. An Oreo cookie the day my sister was born. Eating chewy alligator in South Carolina with lemonade that gave me a sore throat. Drinking a glass of whole milk after only having non-fat in the house, and thinking I'd just drunk pure, heavenly cream. Trying steak tartare just before my 23rd birthday at a swanky bar with one of my best friends, sensing I was finally a grown-up. A terrible beer on the first date with my dear man.
But it isn't just the act of masticating my food that puts a twinkle in my eye. It's the essence of the culture of the table. The simple act of eating something delicious is only the first part of the overall sensation of shared experience, connecting with food and voices as spoons dip into the bowl of berries or forks devour the chicken.
The intimacy of breaking off a hunk of the same piece of bread, twirling pasta on to your plate, slurping the chocolate off the spoon, looking up to see a friend covered in sticky barbeque sauce. Friendship is made up of these little intimacies, verbal and non-verbal, and the table is an immediate source of closeness, of pleasure. It's a level playing field, stocked with an abundance of food, dishes, and smiling faces, an arena that satisfies our desire for sustenance of the mind and body.
Sharing food, sharing ideas, sharing a space creates a bond, a joint memory that lasts a lifetime. I am beyond lucky in friends, in love, in family, and everyone I've ever shared a meal with. As the years before have been, I hope the years to come will be filled with gathering at the table. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, and may we meet at the table soon!