I can’t wait for fall. These hot, humid days – I’m done with them. I can’t wait to smell and see the leaves changing and falling, coating the ground. It’s one of the true joys of living in Pennsylvania. The foliage, right? I’ll go one further and say that it’s the entire spirit that surrounds the foliage. The whole season is full of good feelings. Everything dying, or going to sleep, but people become more alive. I was reading Ryan Marshall’s blog a couple days ago and he was talking about Kinfolk Magazine, their manifesto being,
“Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings. We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us. We have come together to create Kinfolk as our collaborative way of advocating the natural approach to entertaining that we love.
Every element of Kinfolk – the features, photography, and general aesthetics – are consistent with the way we feel entertaining should be: simple, uncomplicated, and less contrived. Kinfolk is the marriage of our appreciation for art and design and our love for spending time with family and friends.”
I immediately thought of autumn. Of making boeuf bournignon for my birthday with my mom, of piling into a car to the orchard, of taking refuge with friends over coffee, of hiking in Valley Forge…
There is nothing like entering Valley Forge park with family and friends on a chilly fall day, full of conversation and then losing the need for conversation by the time we reach the top of Mount Joy. Everyone’s faces are cherry red, we’re all breathing a little heavier, and the crunch of leaves fills the void. It’s a beautiful place. We’re all silent, we’re all connected. Like Kinfolk’s manifesto says, these small gatherings are energizing. It’s unlike any other gathering. There are no words.
One great thing can be ruined by a small terrible thing.
I don’t want to name names, but I was once served chicken with a delightful cheese bechamel sauce. I might even make it myself someday. Anyway, it was music to my taste buds. I snuck a bite before I even left the kitchen, but then the cook lumped some canned corn on my plate. *record scratches* Watery, mushy, sickly yellow kernels. Ew. Like I said the chicken was rock-on-awesome, but what was with the corn? When you present a plate of food to someone you are going to be judged either openly or privately. I like vegetables, I really do, but I know a lot (a lot!) of people hate them and that lump of yellow is why. They’ve hated veggies since they were kids and mostly because of the way vegetables are treated. When I see a mom scheming to sneak veggies into her daughter or son’s meal I wonder why they need to be hidden. When that mom treats vegetables as something kids won’t like, as something that has to be hidden you make a distinct mental impression: vegetables are bad. There seems to be some collective thinking in our country that kids, without exception, hate vegetables from birth. I never knew that children are born with the hate of greens- probably because they aren’t.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a vegetable hater. Most of my childhood. I think another big mistake is serving and being served plain as Jane Eyre vegetables that haven’t been loved or coaxed into greatness. Aside from the health problems this mentality breeds we’re also missing out on some damn good chow. In Tony Bourdain’s book Nasty Bits he writes that we should, “Eat for nourishment, yes, but eat for pleasure”. I want to sit down at a diner, get a burger that means serious business, but I also want a side of perfectly stir fried vegetables atop some rice.
So, what is the point of this long tirade? From now on when I go to family functions or parties I am bringing delicious vegetable based side dishes. I’m bringing veggie back. I’m going to expose people to vegetation. Coming to a plate near you…