I’m having a fabulous weekend. On Friday night my mom and my sister came to town for dinner at Luca’s restaurant. He sent out way too many dishes, all of them perfect. In the morning, my friend Jill (from high school) and her daughter arrived for a day of Philadelphia sightseeing and a show (the Lion King at the Academy). After eating lunch at Garces Trading Company, we drove over to the airport to pick up Alain, who’s visiting a few days from Paris. I could barely contain my happiness to see everyone! One might think that I would be cooking for my out-of-town visitors, but all I’ve done so far is a breakfast frittata. Oh, and I baked a box of Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants. That should count, right?
When I visit friends, I love to share meals with them in their homes (especially if they cook – hint, hint). Turns out some enterprising folks in Italy have institutionalized this sentiment, with a twist. Matt Gross writes a very interesting article in the NYT about his experiences with Home Food, an Italian cultural organization dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of Italian culinary heritage through shared meals in family homes. These few paragraphs of Matt’s article sum up nicely the gist:
… Home Food, an Italian organization dedicated to, as its promotional literature states, “the protection and increase of the value of typical Italian gastronomic and culinary legacy.” That is, it’s all about preserving and showcasing the cooking of individual Italian families. From Piedmont in the north to Sicily in the south, from cities like Florence and Milan to hamlets like Abbateggio, Home Food seeks out exceptional home chefs, puts them through a training course and dubs them Cesarinas — little Caesars, emperors of the kitchen. Then, a few times a month, the Cesarinas host dinner parties at which they open their homes to strangers.
All an intrepid eater has to do is register with Home Food, pay a membership fee (3.50 euros for foreigners, or about $4.60 at $1.31 to the euro; 35 euros for Italians) and scour the monthly listings for a meal that appeals. Would you like goose-meat salami in Lombardy? Fried chicken bones with red chicory in Emilia-Romagna? Rabbit in a pot inTuscany? All are part of dozens of meals on offer throughout April, with participation fees typically 34.90 or 39.90 euros per person.
I adore this idea! Forget the pasta shop; how about starting up a chapter of HomeFood USA? I don’t think you need to live in Italy to experience the joys of Italian food culture. While I get a kick out of writing about Italian food culture in my little blog experiment here (now going on for almost three years), I’d much rather be cooking and eating in a face-to-face social environment. Table fellowship with non-Italians is just as meaningful as meals shared with the natives, after all. Interesting food for thought …