Entertaining isolated but not alone: Welcome to “quarantaining.” With benefits to the immune system, no need for a designated driver, and little washing up to do afterward, it’s not all bad…
With the reality of the Corona quarantine settling in, so are we. Not getting together like we normally do, means getting together like we normally don’t: virtually that is. And hey, it’s not all bad. Being in good company is proven to boost your immunity, plus there’s very little washing up afterward and no need for a designated driver. (Still, drink responsibly, as emergency rooms have their hands full at the moment.)
If ever there were a time to re-acquaint with the comforts and cooking of home, it is now. And if ever there were a time to gather, it is now. We are all in this together, and we need each other.
We–Chef Stephanie Valentine and I–have spent the last few weeks preparing to promote our new book “California Cooking and Southern Style” on a “spring entertaining” segment scheduled for March 19 on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, which like everything else, was cancelled. Worse still was missing a get-together with old friends in LA afterward. Booo. But then my clever friend Leslie Klotz suggested we meet up anyway, virtually. We said Yes! In which case we could also include a couple of NYC friends who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to join us, on account of they have not yet learned to apparate. LA people, like, can totally already apparate.
The plan was for me to send a ZOOM link to all at the appointed hour, they’d all be at table with their dinner, and we’d chat.
And since we had already apparated our table, sorta-kinda, for the TV shoot, I thought we might as well share it.
Honey I am all about high-low decorating, and the same is true for my tables. I wanted a fresh spring garden look without spending a lot, especially now in these uncertain times. So instead of a new tablecloth, I bought a few yards of fabric from a discount fabric store and an inexpensive solid polyester (I know but you barely see it….) underneath. The rest is cute tin picnic plates on china chargers, silver goblets with vintage wine glasses, and grocery store flowers plus a few pretty locally grown ranunculus because that’s what I could get my hands on this week.
The pretty foliage I pilfered from everyday houseplants, also from the grocery store. I was the only one in there not buying toilet paper.
Meanwhile, Chef Stephanie Valentine is working away in the kitchen preparing a no-fuss, quarantine-friendly menu that combines pantry items with a bit of fresh: Chickpea Soup, Roasted Asparagus, and Bruschetta.
Oh, and seriously scrumptious super rich brownies, to which she added an EXTRA CUP OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS and ICING, because, yeah. Chocolate, duh, is like the best thing for whatever ails you. That is well known.
As it was getting close to 5 and almost time for our guests “to arrive,” I took my place at the table, put on my lipstick yes ma’am I did, positioned my laptop, and waited for the doorbell to ring. Funnily enough, when people sign in to a Zoom call it actually makes a doorbell sound. Little did they know… or maybe they did… There is also an “enhance appearance” button. LOVE that. I’m looking into putting one in my bathroom mirror and my driver’s license photo.
We thought it might be interesting to hear from everyone a couple of ways in which their lives have changed, and what if any silver linings they’ve discovered. I know that for me, creating this gathering of friends, and knowing we can do it again, with parents, children, nieces, nephews, sibling, friends, is a huge silver lining for me and for all of us. And it isn’t just an on-the-fly chat, but a real gathering with purpose and connection. This might even herald a welcome shift in our culture, a remembering of what our real priorities are, and putting our technology where our truest and highest intentions are. We will see.
How you all are gathering and creating closeness and community in this crazy but TEMPORARY reality? I–we–would all love to hear from you. Meanwhile, stay safe and stay well.
Grace to you, FS