This week on the homefront, my husband instituted a challenge to reduce our grocery bill and cook more minimally with what we had on hand. Admittedly, I initially rebuffed his idea. Rather than sifting through my cookbooks and making an elaborate (often over-ambitious) grocery list for a week’s worth of from-scratch meals, I had to think through our paltry pantry staples and freezer contents. As a result, our menu this week won’t win any James Beard awards, and I’m not likely to get chosen to star in any upcoming season of Chef’s Table (sigh). But, simple flavors have sufficed and the exercise has been a good reminder that good eating doesn’t always have to be fancy eating. Ordinariness can be grand of its own right.
Writer and priest, Robert Farrar Capon highlights this very idea in this passage from one of my favorite books, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection.
“Both the ferial and the festal cuisine, therefore, must be seen as styles of unabashed eating. Neither attempts to do anything to food other than render it delectable. Their distinction is grounded, not in sordid dietetic tricks, but in a choice between honest frugality or generous expense. Both aim only at excellence; accordingly, neither is suitable for dieting. Should a true man want to lose weight, let him fast. Let him sit down to nothing but coffee and conversation, if religion or reason bid him to do so; only let him not try to eat his cake without having it. Any cake he could do that with would be a pretty spooky proposition - a little golden calf with dietetic icing, and no taste at all worth having.
Let us fast, then - whenever we see fit, and as strenuously as we should. But having gotten that exercise out of the way, let us eat. Festally, first of all, for life without occasions is not worth living. But ferially, too, for life is so much more than occasions, and its grand ordinariness must never go unsavored. But both ways let us eat with a glad good will, and with a conscience formed by considerations of excellence, not by fear of Ghosts.”
If that doesn’t make you want to dwell at a banquet table with a glass of wine and good friends…
Part of what I love about printing invitations and event materials is getting a chance to help make festal culinary experiences even more beautiful. Hand-written place cards, matching menus set on each plate, even poetry prints for each guest to take with them at night’s end. These are the detail that turn the sometimes-ordinary routine of eating into a more celebratory, memorable experience.
Have questions about how paper can help turn your ferial into festal? Email me! Want more Capon? Check out this print!