I read newspapers every day—I know, so old-fashioned. I wake up around 6 and start the coffee. Feed Bad Dog. Then I fetch our three papers from the curb (slippers optional unless it has snowed) and lay them full-out on my counter. It helps me eyeball several perspectives quickly—who has what as a top story, how did the editors headline what happened, what photos did they chose to illustrate the topic? The house is quiet. I start to read and think. I should probably start a morning moisturizing regimen but there's only so much a girl can manage at that hour.
In the last few days I've seen the word "otherness" in my papers quite a bit. I intuited what it meant, but I thought I'd better look it up. I found "discomfort with difference." Hmm, for better or worse I'm a natural solution-seeker so when I read that definition I thought okay, solution: we need to relieve the discomfort. And if differences feel uncomfortable why not shift our focus to similarities?
My next thought of course, me being me—was FOOD. You know that soulful feeling when after a long day you open your door and a favorite cooking smell greets you? Coming home to wafts of my Nana's sour cream coffee cake or Mom's pot roast was so central to my childhood that when I told my mother I'd be going back to work full-time after my eldest Hannah was born, she said, "but your house won't smell like love when she comes home from school!" I digested that for awhile and then bought a bread maker with a timer and I set it to finish at 3:30 p.m. Ha! Anyway (again)—every person on the earth lucky enough to have a home and a kitchen of sorts knows the happy first sniff of yummy familiar foods cooking. Around the world that is something we share. Doesn't just thinking about that moment make you feel connected and soothed?
So, next I moved to something I myself can do—celebrate sameness with a multi-cultural potluck in my event space. It's not a solution, but it's a start. I need your help though—do you or someone you know have a favorite family dish they'd like to bring, one that reflects your or their roots and culture, and then tell us a bit about it while we take a taste or two or ten? If you leave it all to me, I mean I could boil some oatmeal for you and whip up some sauerkraut (I'm Scottish and Bohemian) but I don't think anyone would come. No offense, Grandmas MacGregor and Pasternock.
What do you think—want to come to a shared meal featuring many families' favorite dishes that make your neighbors happy, hungry and proud? A focus on similarities can help us put any sense of "otherness" aside, methinks. Can't hurt.
I'd love to have as many continents and cultures represented as possible. Please click the link below and let me know what you'll bring and why your heart sings when you come home and sniff it cooking. If your family doesn't warm to a particular dish, email me because the cookbook "Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity" has lots and lots of recipes. Talk to you soon.
"Almost every culture has its own variation on chicken soup,
and rightly so - it's one of the most gratifying dishes on the face of the Earth."
Free event, September 29 (Sunday), 1-2:30 p.m.
Please bring a plate, fork, napkin and a beverage.
No single-use plastic or styrofoam please.