Friday, January 11, 2008

Notre Dîner Partagé

One day this week, while I was surfing the net, I had the good fortune to discover a great recipe for Tarte à la Tomate, through a link on Kristin Espinasse’s French Word a Day blog. (I am on the newsletter list for this entertaining and informative website.)

This recipe is so simple; I did a quick look around and discovered I already had all four ingredients; no trip to the marché would be necessary! As I commenced preparation, I thought, "This looks too good not to share." I quickly phoned my voisine down the rue and asked her to join us. “It’s going to be a simple dinner,” I said, “just a tomato pie, a green salad and a loaf of bread.” (Vin goes without saying when you live in France!)

Julie, a former actress on the BBC, said that the menu sounded perfect for her healthy eating New Year's resolution. I quickly washed the lettuce for the salad, set the table and my daughter popped the tarte into the oven. Twenty minutes later, Julie and I were sipping wine and sharing tales; the pie was out of the oven and the house smelled divine.

Throughout my adult life, I have loved to entertain. But looking back, there were many years I burdened myself with Martha Stewart heroics. When entertaining reaches that level, it just becomes too much work for a hostess to relax, unless of course, you’ve got a sizeable staff hanging out in the kitchen. As part of my effort to simplify my life and focus on the things that bring me pleasure, I am re-defining the way that I entertain.

With redefinition, mid-week, impromptu dinners become manageable; Guests enjoy family meals. More time is found for building friendships, as the visits tag to things that you are going to be doing anyway! I warned Julie that the house would not be clean and she insisted such was not important; she’s dropped by enough to be aware of what she was getting into. As it turned out, this dinner was such a breeze that, as the pie cooked, I had a few extra minutes to hide away the clutter and make a quick sweep of the floor before she arrived. And Emily had time to review her spelling words for the next day’s exam. We were prêt à manger!

In all, it was a wonderful evening and I am so grateful that I listened not to the voice in my head (you know the party-pooper) saying, “You don’t have enough time to put together a dinner…doing this is going to take away valuable writing time…it’s going to keep Emily from her homework.” That voice was wrong. Le voilà! I had my story. Yes, a few dishes lay in the sink, but I could wash them in the morning while I waited for the coffee to brew. As I turned out the lights, got into bed and closed my eyes, contentment sang me to sleep. Isn’t that what life is about?


~kate said...

Sounds like a perfect evening.

And isn't it amazing how much we miss in life when we spend so much time on creating perfection and not enough time on just enjoying what life has to offer?

~kate said...

I went and looked at the recipe for the tomato pie. I'm definitely going to try this in the next couple of days.

Susan Sparkman said...

Dear Kate,
Thank you for your comments. I agree with you; I wasted many years on that unsustainable, unattainable "perfection" and I just can't give it any more of my life.
Let me know how your tarte turns out!

Waldo Oiseau said...

What an inspirational little post! Really reminds one that spending time with friends and having good conversation can be missed if we're too stuck on doing things perfectly.

I look forward to reading more of your blog! I visited Provence in 2004 and, quite simply, fell in love with it.


The "party-pooper" voice in your head telling you everthing must be PERFECT before having guests has an evil twin (or maybe in this case, just a twin) in Phoenix, AZ. I would like to adopt your new attitude!

I'm having my husband read your comments about waiting in line. You should see him at a stop light!