by Jackie Roessler
As we get older we begin to realize the significance of surrounding ourselves with people who support our dreams, and more importantly, bring joy into our lives. With the holidays looming, this thought continues to pop into my head. I’m incredibly thankful for my parents’ ability to send me to a university where I am able to meet people from various backgrounds with preferences that are different than mine. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate that than over good food and great conversation.
The majority of my cooking and hosting skills come from my mother, who is of Italian descent and continues to host dinner parties to this day. I remember being six years old and helping polish the silver and set the table when her and my dad were expecting company. My fondest memories of these parties consist of me peering into the dining room in my pajamas as well dressed adults sipped wine, ate ornate cornish game hens and listened to the likes of Frank Sinatra and Bessie Smith.
Now that I am older, I have found immense joy in trying to recreate the old school dinner party with close friends. There’s something special about sharing a good home cooked meal with your friends on a Sunday that no restaurant can beat. This year, my Friendsgiving menu consisted of a charcuterie board, oven roasted rosemary turkey and carrots, gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans with bacon, roasted curry pumpkin soup, and to top it off for dessert, a vanilla cheesecake with an optional vegan caramel drizzle. Oh, and let’s not forget the red and white wine!
The biggest hit of the evening was the charcuterie board, which is one of my favorite hors d'oeuvres to make. The creativity that you can put into a charcuterie board is endless. Throw on three of your favorite cheeses, add some garnishes, make some tapenade and add your favorite cured meats and you have an instant party hit. The two tapenades I made was an olive pimento, as well as a fresh basil pesto. It’s important to give your guest options when it comes to hors d’oeuvres and the beginning wine selection. This part of the meal is also the time when your acquaintances who don’t know each other have the time to have conversation before the main course begins.
By the time the main course is ready to be served, guests have usually gotten to know each other and the real stories and discussions begin. I’ve been blessed to have such an eclectic group of friends for the conversation can begin with a story about an evening out on the town to something elevated like Renaissance art patronage in Florence. To me, the main course is where the real memories are made, because everyone truly lives in the moment and basks in the warmth of being in good company.
Despite the fact that we are still in college it is still possible to make an appetizing meal from scratch. The holidays are a perfect time to start working on your dinner party skills; it is a time of feasting after all. Additionally, just because we are in college doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to explore the culinary world, which changes just as fast as the latest technology. Once you begin to open your world up to new tastes and culinary creations, you will be able to see just how powerful food is at generating human connection.