“The Last Chinese Chef” and Sharing our Thanksgiving Table
Last summer while wandering through a favorite bookstore, I happened upon a wonderful little novel titled The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel . The book opens with this quote:
“Apprentices have asked me, what is the most exalted peak of cuisine? Is it the freshest ingredients,
the most complex flavors? Is it the rustic, or the rare? It is none of these. The peak is neither eating nor cooking, but the giving and sharing of food. Great food should never be taken alone. What pleasures can a man take in fine cuisine unless he invites cherished friends, counts the days until the banquet, and composes an anticipatory poem for his letter of invitation?”
How wonderful is that!
One of the main themes of the book has to do with how food and dining reflected the whole culture in imperial China. It also stresses that eating in China is never a solo act. In fact, meals are never even individually plated, but always served on family style platters from which all the diners serve themselves.
Of course, the Chinese have had thousands of years to develop this rarefied culture around eating. We are babes, comparatively, in the U.S.
Still, we are here at Thanksgiving, when we, as a nation, celebrate a shared feast.
A feast rooted in welcoming others to our banquet table, and bound with tradition.
So I extend my wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May you find pleasure in sharing your table with many others.