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.
Oldie but goodie: Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life with Pasta
Pasta Night with the Neighbors (Page 226, Dinner: A Love Story)
Cider-braised Meatballs (also in How to Celebrate Everything for book owners)