As most people do on the first day of a New Year—when the blush of excitement (and intoxication) is still running rampant through our veins—I too reflect on the previous 12 months which seemed to pass by as if on rails greased generously with extra virgin olive oil. As far as lives go, 2014 was an emotionally topsy turvy year for me.
The Good: My husband and I had a genuinely wonderful time with my in-laws who visited us from The Netherlands. The Bad: Our 16 year old dog had a mysterious seizure on his birthday that left him temporarily paralyzed. The Ugly: The tenants from hell left my home a visible wreck—German cockroach infestation included.
As the clock strikes midnight, 2014 marches into the history books and 2015 screams into the world like a newborn baby on a mission, I am experiencing a calming sense of déjà vu. Yes, I’ve been here before. As in years past, my husband and I have once again returned to Voorhout, Holland—our annual end of the year pilgrimage—to spend time with our Dutch family and welcome in the New Year (six hours before family and friends celebrate the occasion on the east coast . . .) with traditional oliebollen and appelflappen. We are an intimate family gathering of five—a wife, a husband, a schoonmoeder, a schoonvader and a stepson—and together we clink glasses, nibble on the picky bits, watch the festive display of fireworks as we gaze out the large picture window and express not only our love to one another but also the hope that the New Year continues to bring us together.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” ~ Tecumseh
Having a spirit of gratefulness and being thankful for what one has means different things to different people. While 2014 was not the best year for me, it was one which is now behind me. That doesn’t mean I cannot be grateful for my blessings, whether big or small, and that sense of gratitude extends to food as well.
From a culinary perspective, 2014 filled my tummy well. I dined on Pork + Ricotta Meatballs at Oak + Almond, crafted my own Bloody Mary at Parallel Post and indulged in the insanely delicious Blue Ridge Bison Short Ribs, courtesy of Chef Sean Brock at Husk Restaurant.
2014 also saw my very first taste of poutine at Washington Prime, and I followed that up with crazy delicious poutine with duck at Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro. Hands down, the most entertaining meal of the year was at Jojito Restaurant. Chef Neil Fuentes, better known as “The Singing Chef,” cooked his way into my heart (and without ever knowing it, made me an honorary Venezuelan) with Costillas en Sofrito y Vino (Short Ribs) and a trio of arepas.
A return to the Atlanta area brought me face to face (perhaps mouth-to-mouth is a better term) with bites that I have truly been missing since moving to Stamford: the best yakitori I have ever eaten at Yakotori Jinbei in Smyrna.
Food and drink festivals took my taste buds on a flavorful journey as I happily ‘suffered’ sensory overload at the 9th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival and nearly fell into a food coma at Fancy Food Show.
Times will be good and, as is the normal course of events in life, times will be not so good. But through it all, a good bite of food can lift the most low of spirits. It isn’t the cure all, but when our palates are pleased with that which meets or exceeds our dining expectations, it’s a tiny morsel of happiness that brings its own reward.
As I experience these first few moments of 2015, my fervent wish is that
- this year will be better than the last
- I’m able to appreciate the blessings—large and small, seen and unseen, heard and unheard—that come my way
- my level of giving—of my time, of my gifts, of myself—far outweigh the receiving
- loved ones are prosperous and blessed, and
- my stomach will continue to be rewarded with cuisine that is inspiring, creative, satisfying and, above all, exquisite
Out with the old (food) and in with the new (food)!
May you eat well in this New Year. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!