I’ve wrestled with how to express a recent experience, an experience shared with a hundred other people, and yet a unique experience. Eat, Write, Retreat! has occupied many waking moments since Sunday afternoon. As I watched tweets and blog posts and comments flow around the Ethernet, I was amazed and impressed by the clarity of thought and engaging storytelling. Still, I was overwhelmed and in a mental swirl. Finally, deciding to put pan to stove and fingers to keyboard and try something…anything…what emerged are the lessons I learned and dinner…
Push boundaries & escape the status quo
At 7:30 on a Tuesday night after being out of town for 10 days, I found myself hungry and wanting an easy answer. Ordering out was tempting for the convenience, wine as dinner was tempting for different reasons – something was missing from both of these answers.
It was the same dilemma when I considered the Eat, Write, Retreat! I could stay home and enjoy a rare night in my own bed and be in my comfortable weekend routine or invest in something outside of my comfort zone. At 7:30 on a Tuesday night, I got cooking…guess that's also true of 6 o’clock on Friday, May 20th…when a new world opened up to me.
Start with what you have & build on it
So what’s lying around waiting to be eaten? Assorted pasta, rices and grains, grape tomatoes, asparagus, chicken thighs, bell peppers, Italian sausage, sun dried tomatoes, capers, and of course, wine. The pasta yelled the loudest and the tomatoes and asparagus were making their voices heard…is this the direction to go?
Lying latent in me are my enjoyment of photography, passion for food and wine, struggle with writing – enjoy it when I do it, but don’t do it enough, love of learning and extreme discomfort with cocktail parties and meeting new people…what have I gotten myself into?
Challenge old patterns & imagine new possibilities
Pasta with tomatoes, green veg and cheese – a comfortable standard in this kitchen…hmm. What if I step out of my comfort zone and do a spin on sausage and peppers – my baseball game fave? Inspired! At least for a week night. With water on the boil and sausage sizzling, I wield my knife to chop, chop, chop my way through a Vidalia onion and colorful bell peppers. The caramelized sausage leaves a delicious brown crust on the pan…I’ve got just the thing to deglaze…a glass of summer…Patton Valley rosé…it’s dancing in the pan as my taste buds anticipate the first bite.
While the onions and peppers are melting into the sausage, I reflect on how Lisa and Renee would style & capture the food, how Monica would translate it into story, and anticipate my first bite of a new creation.
Count your blessings, especially memories that nourish the soul
The pasta is getting acquainted with the sausage mix and some Parmigiano-Reggiano, so I have five or ten minutes to assemble my camera and a setting, wash the pan and knife and load the dishwasher. While it’s late and no gardening chores got done, how lucky am I to have a great meal and glass of wine ahead of me? And while I struggle with how to share my thoughts, I feel enriched by the conversations, the learning, the meals, the sense of community and of course that crazy swag bag!
Celebrate in the moment & think to the future
As I sit down to dinner, after an abbreviated photo shoot,
I raise a glass to Robyn & Casey for creating a picture perfect event, to the panelists who shared their perspectives so we could each find our own way, and my fellow participants who welcomed me into their community in a way that continues to feel like a warm embrace.
At the first bite, I am happy and content, thrilled to have tried something new and impromptu and remembering a Red Sox game at Fenway. At the second bite, I am thinking ahead to what I would do differently next time…add some fennel? Use fresh mozzarella?
So too with my blog, as I prepare to hit the publish button, I am thrilled to have my first post in over a year. And am thinking ahead…shall I share a treasured story from cooking class in Bali? A visit to a balsamic attic at Cavazzone? A new journey of discovery? Thanks to this weekend and the encouragement of professionals and friends,
the door is open and a new world awaits me.