I always recall fondly the dinners had at my high school friend James’ house. Not that I was in need of another family, but the Gallaghers definitely were the stand-in should I get into one of the all-too-common teenage scraps with my folks, forcing me to run away from home…never to return. Fortunately, it never came to that.
There was an incredible warmth and welcome that enveloped you when you walked into their kitchen. I can’t say I’m surprised; James’ mother was Italian. Italian-American, to be more specific, but the prototypical New Yorker-transplanted-to-Atlanta. Let’s face it: the weather’s nicer down here.
Always a hug and a kiss on the cheek from mom. Dean Martin on the radio. And the food. Simple, good things, and plenty of them. Salads prepared simply with some herbs and olive oil. Fresh pasta. Sauces made from tomatoes grown just out back. Occasionally a steak, but I’d be happy with the former. There was always care and joy put into the meal, and it came through in every bite.
I really feel this is the absolute definition of la dolce vita. Good friends and family gathered around a table; brought together by food. Simple, honest food, made with care. Bring some wine into the fold (which might as well go along with the salt shaker on the Italian table), and the subsequent conviviality only enhances the experience. Truly, the happiest moments of my life most often mirror this scene.
I hope you embrace the simple pleasures in life this weekend. Find something good to eat, grab a bottle of wine, and watch how these two bring people together. If you can’t find anybody, I’m always a sucker for a free meal.