Stronger Together


Come over for some love and meatballs
, I wrote without really even thinking. There had been a sudden death in my friend’s family and in situations like this, it’s hard to think of anything else to offer. At least we can feed him when he’s back in town. It didn’t feel like a lot, but it was something. And something is definitely something.

He was grateful. As his wife told me later, “re-entry” to normal life is hard, to put it mildly, and a meatball dinner with friends was a good on-ramp back to reality and reengagement. (A little wine helps, too.) I was glad to hear it. After writing about dinner for six and a half years, I don’t know why it comes as a surprise to me that a pot of turkey meatballs can be about so much more than a pot of turkey meatballs. If you think about it, a bowl of them with pasta and good Parm…it’s kind of the answer to everything.

The truth is, the meal was good for me, too. In the middle of one of the most divisive elections of my lifetime, it felt good to connect with people on a meaningful level, to put our radioactive phones down for a bit, to be reminded of the importance of community and togetherness. As you can probably tell, I try to keep politics out of this space, because I know a lot of you come here for an escape or, more likely, for easy chicken recipes, but like the rest of the world, I’ve been pretty worried – okay, wracked with anxiety — about what’s going to happen on November 8. I realize I’m not alone in this, but this election has dominated our dinner table conversation for the past six months. At our table, a space where we’ve done our best to preach kindness, inclusiveness, and compassion, we’ve found ourselves talking about the polarized state of this country, about racism and sexism and the unwanted grabbing of body parts, about what a leap forward it would be to have a woman in the White House for once, and about the toxicity of divisiveness — notably after my 14 year-old daughter’s “I’m with her” button was stolen off of her backpack, and another time after our then-12 year-old commented on an HRC Instagram post only to be faced with a barrage of decidedly grown-up hate, including “Hillary doesn’t give a sh*t about you!” (Teachable moment! Don’t Engage Ever!)

Everyone in my house and my friend circle seems to have spent the better part of the past year obsessing over polls and studying color-coded electoral maps, and, in the face of everything we know about the internet, following the threads of insanely vitriolic twitter and Facebook wars. No matter what side you’re on, I imagine you can relate. I, for one, am exhausted.

In light of this, today’s Friday Reading Round-up is focusing on the opposite of divisiveness: Dinner, community, and, for good measure, meatballs. Don’t forget to vote.

The Power of a Dinner Table

The Power of a “playborhood.”

Oldie but goodie: Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life with Pasta

We get together to have dinner. And I don’t mean ‘go out’ for dinner. I mean ‘get together.’

Pasta Night with the Neighbors (Page 226, Dinner: A Love Story)

Five Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party

Great Grandma Turano’s Meatballs

Cider-braised Meatballs (also in How to Celebrate Everything for book owners)


#hillz

Jenny

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40 Comments

Sarah P.

Hi Jenny – thank you for this post. I have two daughters, and though the presidential choice seems to be extremely clear to them at their young age, I still have told them to keep their political views private! We, too, have been riddled with anxiety! I love your posts, recipes and books. How to Celebrate Everything is at the top of my birthday list!

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CarrieH

Great post–let’s all enjoy some food with our friends this weekend and leave the politics “out there.”

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Megan

We’re having people over for meatballs tonight, Great Grandma Turano’s in fact! Thanks for this important reminder.

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Karen

Love this post! Thank you for saying this… and suggesting meatballs. I love coming here for dinner inspiration and some sanity in this crazy mixed-up internet world.

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Linda

Longtime reader, first time commenter. Thank you for putting into words my anxieties and feelings. Us grandparents are so concerned for our grandchildrens’ futures. A Grandmother as President would be wonderful! Thank you again.

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Sue A.

Thank you for this important message and for using your website to spread this vital idea. I appreciate your strong stand.

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Tina

Thank you so much for this post! I feel that anyone with any public platform needs to be supporting her right now. Also – your meatball recipe is bonkers. Always a hit when I make it.

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Sarah

Thank you, thank you! Yes, I come for the recipes. But I come back, over and over, for the overall message of honesty and acceptance and love. #imwithher

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Kate

Thank you, Jenny. May we all make it to Tuesday in one piece and with a few more satisfying dinners under our belt.

Actually stepping away from one’s phone (and 538) and doing something feels really good, too. Knocking on doors or making calls and asking people to get out and vote is some of the easiest, most satisfying and most effective election work there is. And you get to know your community in a whole new way. Food for thought, everyone!

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Darcie

Do you follow Caissie St. Onge on Facebook? (TV producer, author, comedy writer) On Nov. 1st, she posted an amazing Thanksgiving dinner invitation on her page, welcoming pretty much everybody. I know you’d dig it.

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Allison

Yes, Jenny! Thanks for being brave enough to write about this! I feel like I’ve been holding my breath , just waiting for it to be over. It was a sad day when I decided the debate might be inappropriate for my 8 year old to watch. Meatballs might be just the thing.

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marianne

Thank you Jenny, you have put into words EVERYTHING we have been thinking and feeling. The anxiety has been overwhelming because I feel like even if we/she wins we will lose to the hate, obstructionism and divisiveness. I wish it would be over Tuesday but I don’t think it will be unfortunately. I have a 27 year old daughter who is so overcome with anxiety over this. Just unbelievable after the optimism and idealism we all felt 8 and 4 years ago. And I have seen a lot of elections in my lifetime and have never felt like this, even watching the Bush v. Gore debacle play out. I thought then this is as bad as it could get. Boy was I wrong. God help us and bless us all. I’m gonna go make a pot of meatballs now….

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JessicaD

I’ve bought all of your cookbooks, but don’t cook (but my husband and daughter do). Buy frozen meatballs, but believe so strongly in family dinners. So sorry your daughter’s button was stolen, but love that she wore it. Love your shirts. Ours just arrived in the mail and I’ve been sending Hillary $$ weekly. Not sure how to close, except to say that I love, love, love this post! xoxo – Jessica

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Maureen @Raising The Capable Student

My college kids came back to NC to vote last night. A group of NC kids drove back together, voted, and then came to our house for meatballs and spaghetti! We had a wonderful conversation about voting and civic duty. It restored my hope for the future.

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Sarah

Love your blog, love your books (have three and my son calls them the jenny cookbooks), but may love this post most of all! It was an important one, thank you!

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Allison

Love the idea of old-fashioned “play”bourhoods. Too bad the guy featured in the article sounds intensely sexist.

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Hilary

While I don’t support Hillary (or Trump), because of some experiences of her from time working in DC, I do support the magic of gathering people around the table and feeding and loving them. I hope this election teaches us that the government shall not be the source of goodness or change in our lives. WE shall be the source–as we always have been. It seems to me that every four years, we forget that while our leaders influence our lives, they’re not our saving grace, and the fixation on DC makes us forget that we have power in our own neighborhoods and schools and churches to love well and practically: feed hungry people, donate to organizations in our communities that need resources to help the poor or disenfranchised, call your local school and ask the principal what they need, etc. Yes to meatballs and comfort and making extra space at the table for people who need it.

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Michelle

I was about to applaud the decision to refrain from discussing politics, but celebrated to soon. Seems like everywhere you look these days there is no escape from politics. However, I really enjoy your posts and this website is definitely an escape from the stress of everyday life. Thank you for that! Like everyone, I am anxious about this election, but unlike the majority of posts here I am definitely not with Clinton (or Trump). It seems like no matter which of the duopoly candidates win, it’s going to be a very long, anxiety-filled next four years and it’s going to take someone much stronger than Trump or Clinton to heal the divisiveness in our nation and restore the integrity of our electoral system.

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Jodie Kachkar

As a Canadian observer in Alberta – it’s been terrifying to watch this election. I can’t imagine living it. I’m currently a high school Foods Studies/Home Ec teacher (yes, we still exist) who is slowly working on her masters – my argument is the impact of the power of a shared meal on student success. To some extent a great indicator of success than anything else – more than homework, more than early reading, more than music lessons. Thanks for some great links. Hang in there through Nov. 8

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Ro

Brave post. Thank you for taking the risk to address the elephant in the blogging room -and kudos for doing it well.

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Alix

I’m Australian, living in Australia and I have anxiety about this election – can’t imagine how you guys are feeling! I’m a big fan of the dinner table and an at home dinner is no contest the winner. Fingers crossed for Tuesday – I’m not across all of Hillary’s apparent misdeeds but I’d certainly take her over Trump. If Australia can have a female leader, so can America! Great links this week too.

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Awads

I love Grandma Turano’s meatballs! I recently made a double batch for a family gathering when one of the Trump-supporting guests (no politics discussed, however) exclaimed, “These are delicious! How does a Jew know anything about meatballs?” And so it goes….Hang in there! We got this! #imwithher

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Christina Simon

Love that you shared your opinions about the election. It is too important NOT to speak out. Let’s go Hilary!

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Sunski

I’m almost embarrassed to admit (but not really embarrassed because it was necessary for my mental health) that I have opted out of news since the primaries were over. Even actively trying not to hear about the presidential campaign, I’ve still heard way more than I want to. I aspire to not worry over things that I can’t change, but I think your commenter Kate had a good point that you can always volunteer . . . .

Thanks for your brave post.

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Katherine~FurnishMyWay

I love this post! Thanks for being brave and talking about this.

Also, I totally agree that sitting around the table and enjoying an excellent dinner is cathartic and very needed, especially with November 8 one day away.

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patty b.

Thanks for this post. It takes courage to post something like this these days. Bravo to your girls for their courage to wear their convictions on their “sleeves.” Love all your recipes, too–especially your forays into vegetarian eating. Meatballs and a bottle of red wine, shared with neighbors, sounds like just the thing for tomorrow! Fingers, toes, eyes all crossed….

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Catherine Beaudet

As one of your Canadian readers, I can tell you everyone north of the 49th parallel is anxious for this night to be over so we can start dealing with whomever you end up sticking in the White House. Great post. It so true that even a simple meal around the table can help smooth out a lot of issues. During the last Canadian elections my family was very divided. My Sister and BIL were completely against Trudeau for no other reason that they were military and they were positive he was bad for them. They still think this. The rest of us love the breath of fresh air he brought to the country.

But whatever the conversation around the table, a good meal can mellow out tempers and let REAL conversations happen.

Good luck with your new President ^_^

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ME

Will be making a pot of your mourning meatballs, once I can stand up from the gut-punch. Dinner conversation will call up lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life . Stay strong friend!

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Sherri

This post-“stronger together” continues to be an amazing message during this time……let’s gather around a healing pot of meatballs as we adjust and regroup following the election.

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Liza McArdle

Reading this post after the fact has been a little hard. Oh the anxiety! And now, the grief. (So sorry Michigan played a part!) I appreciate your sharing your views. This time around it was too important not to. But now what? Trying to cook my way through the aftermath as well. And back to reading food blogs instead of 538.

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