All in Feast
Now, after so many years in Nashville, my journals and photograph albums are full of the stories of these gatherings. I’ve come to see them as part of the significant work of my life. I have no guarantee they will ultimately have the effect I want them to. But what I suspect, and what I hope, is that the scents, flavors, often-used recipes, family chitchat, friends catching up, and the familiar stamp of the way things are done will seep in, helping to create a family identity and leave a heritage of belonging.
In late October and early November 2011 we celebrated Art House America’s twentieth anniversary. With three events — two in our home, the Art House, and one at The Village Chapel near downtown Nashville — we looked back over twenty years of Art House history; enjoyed amazing music, beautiful food, and the company of people from all eras of the Art House America story. Twenty years still seems quite extraordinary when we look back on our beginnings.
Nobody seems to know where the foolish word came from — a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch, obviously, but we don’t say lupper or dunch. Someone claims a reporter for the New York Morning Sun coined it in the early twentieth century as a way to describe the way a morning newspaper man ate: frenzied, I suppose, too busy to eat breakfast.
I gave up breakfast a long time ago, when I realized it just makes me hungry for lunch hours too early, but I think that portmanteau-inventing reporter and I, teaching college freshmen to wrangle words in the early mornings, are kindred souls.
Learning to cook has opened the door to a more flourishing life. Through cooking, I've learned to comfort, celebrate, care for the sick, create traditions, welcome loved ones and strangers, and create environments for relationships to grow. Cooking has a power that goes beyond meeting our basic need for food. Creating good food and welcoming tables speak to the deepest parts of our being. We are created to live artfully in daily life, to need real food to nourish our bodies, to have tables at which to belong, and to have stopping places where we can know and be known.
A few years ago, I had a hankering to gather my grown children and grandchildren to our home for a meal. The busyness of all our lives, along with the frequent company of houseguests, makes time with just our family a rarity. In this particular season, I had my head most often in books and academic deadlines while I worked on a master's degree, so moving everything else aside for few days in order to pour myself into the elaborate creation of a meal was a true pleasure. Creativity in the kitchen was good medicine.