Once upon a time, I would spend days preparing a dinner for friends. A typical meal at my home included six courses served on my great-great grandmother’s bone china, and could take three hours to eat. I spent more time working in the kitchen during dinner than I spent with my guests at the table.
When I moved from a single-family home in Chicago to a small New York City apartment, I left my heirloom china behind in my brother’s custodial care for my niece. As a result, my friends now enjoy eating simpler dinners in my home, and I enjoy having more time to spend with them during the meals.
The focus of a meal is no longer on the culinary skills I worked so hard to acquire and perfect. Instead, our attention is on the incomparable produce and heirloom grains grown by local farmers, and the fresh fish or succulent piece of meat sold to me that morning by a local fisherman or rancher. After all, a good cook without talented and dedicated farmers is like a writer without an alphabet.
It took me years of study and decades of practice, but I now understand that — more often than not — less can be more.