Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence

This is the time of year I review old things and resolve to do new things.  I was really into this in, like, 2009 and other random years but didn’t feel compelled to list out every crazy thing I did in 2013, because actually everything I did was crazy.

The smaller task would be to list out all the beautifully ordinary moments that existed in the year. Things that come to mind: grilled pizza on the twinkle-lit deck this summer, meaningful meals with friends between each trip, the one or two football games we were able to catch wrapped in blankets with chili in the crockpot, hanging four strands of snowflake lights on our sliding door and watching the snow pile up, snuggles with nieces, selecting our favorite photos to send as a thank-yous to helpful friends, and feeling my little nephew kick.

I am also totally clueless about 2014, so I have not resolved to anything yet. When we return from Cuba, our fellowship with World Next Door will be over, and beyond March is a giant question mark. All my resolutions this year would be all the previous years’ resolutions combined, and also the ordinary ones like clean eating and exercise.

But last night as I was stuffing face in this Cuban pizza shop in Miami, rolling my eyes at yet another meal adding another layer of insulation on my already-too-insulated everything, we laughed with our new friend about how I measure my health and weight these days: When I left Nepal, I was back to my Rwanda size, but then we went to Vegas and now I’m back to where I was after Cambodia. Our friend said it’ll only get worse with our super hospitable host fam in Cuba—we can expect to gain about 10lbs, which makes our post-trek Nepal bodies a distant memory, and puts us back to the potato-and-rice-packed Rwanda and Cambodian days.

I could have declined the Cuban pizza with all its special cheeses. And I could have eaten just half a garlic knot—real garlic, though. I could have said no to the tres leche cake the night before (I don’t even like tres leche) and whatever that delicious pastry was at the famous Cuban coffee stand after we’d already eaten a full breakfast. I could wave off the sugar-packed shots of Cuban coffee I’m offered every 10 seconds.

But it’s all a little bit worth it.

People share their lives through food. There was a conversation attached to each potato and stretchy green bite in Rwanda, with every cup of rice and fried pork in Cambodia; with each momo and dal baht plate in Nepal. Our host family in Vegas carried out their hospitality through burgers and fried chicken and cookies and basically every delicious and bad-for-you meal they selected and prepared for us, because we were worth splurging on. We were worth the best-tasting thing a person could make.

Our friends in the hotel business took turns hosting us at high-end restaurants ordering things like truffle mac and cheese, saying, through food, we like you truffle mac much, and we’re so glad you’re here.  In Portland, a reunion with a college friend and her chef husband left us eating our fourth course at midnight, with taste explosions in our wine-warmed mouths, laughing and sharing ten years worth of experiences, and the next night, the same thing happened when the restaurant he butchers for dropped off extra appetizers and drinks at our table—You’re welcome here, each thing said.

We closed the place down and rolled ourselves home.

I have no insight about the Taco Bell and KFC stops during our 91 total hours of road travel that month, and J calls BS on my food-relations theory of weight management.

But I’m not sorry about the Cuban pizza last night.

It’s been an incredible year, and when the travel is over I’ll tell myself to stop it. But right now I’ll just shore up one more month of amazing food-hospitality and figure out a new plan in March ;)


3 thoughts on “Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence”

  1. I love your theory and so agree, relish the love expressed in the yummy foods now. When March marches in, you’ll be ready…with happy tummies for whatever next steps await you!
    January 8, 2014 at 1:47pm


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