Issue 1, 2016. February-March

   

COMFORT FOOD: AN INTRODUCTION

Amy Binder, co-owner of Ronny's Pizza, lays out a new kind of dinner party to enjoy in 2016.

Amy Binder

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with." So said Mark Twain. Although I take issue with the independence of grief, I wholeheartedly agree that joy (and love! and life!) increase exponentially when shared with others.

Now, as the new year in Tbilisi really gets rolling, it's time to consider resolutions for health and happiness. Living and working internationally has great advantages and joys, but also stresses and frustrations that can affect our well-being. We need to feed ourselves, with good food and good friendships. These two things play an important role, a necessary role, in providing sustenance and comfort.

We've recovered from the indulgences of the holidays. We've settled back into work routines. We've come to terms with the cold, damp and dreary days that are winter. But lest we despair, another holiday comes onto the horizon - Valentine's Day. Granted, this one can be a double-edged sword, but this year we will face it differently. Think of rose gardens. Think of the magic that transforms cocoa beans into chocolates. Think of new ways to love the people you love.

This year I propose a new kind of dinner party. A dinner party that isn't just for holidays. A dinner party that can happen at the drop of the hat.A dinner party that is more dinner, less party, and immensely satisfying. Invite friends into your kitchen. Cook dinner together. Eat dinner together. Simple. It does not require gourmet ingredients, extensive cooking experience or chef's whites.

Cooking and eating familiar comfort food with family or friends is a way to stay a part of your "home" culture. Cooking and eating new foods is a way to explore other cultures and culinary traditions. No matter what you create in your kitchen, it is a great place to connect with other people. It's unpretentious. It's honest. It's a perfect time to celebrate the good things and the simple things of life, like, for example, spaghetti and meatballs... and chocolate.

Here are recipes and a plan for four. Call it Italian, or call it American, or save that debate for after a glass of wine. Cooking dinner will take about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to table, and half the fun is the discoveries you make along the way, discoveries about yourself, your friends, your food. So put on Pavarotti or Paolo Conte or sing a few rounds of "On Top of Spaghetti." Together find that joie de vivre ("love of life" to an American, or "gioia di vivere" to an Italian) that makes food more than food, that makes food an expression of love and a kind of edible joy!

Amy Binder is one of the founders and owners of Ronny's. She makes management decisions, financial decisions, and dinner at 7 for her husband and teenage sons. Sometimes she still makes pizza.

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