“No one is born a great cook; one learns by doing.” -Julia Child
In my “kick-off” column (10/7/23), I hit on the importance of hospitality and the need for us to foster more of it in this hostile world today.
Yes, “the world” is a pretty big place. Tough to get our arms and minds around something so vast and complex. But we CAN get our hands and “world-view” around something infinitely simpler and closer by.
Our neighborhood…. that place on earth where each of us finds ourselves “planted” at this very time. Our neighborhood… that’s the ultimate “ground zero” for “learning by doing”, regarding the practice of hospitality.
A friend of mine once remarked over lunch, “Mike, how can we say that we ‘love our neighbor’ if we’ve never shared something from our gardens with them, invited them over for a drink, grilled them a burger, or dropped off a plate of cookies?” My friend’s words hit me like a punch in the stomach…especially coming from him. (“Him” being Graham Kerr.)
If you are old enough, like me, then you remember Graham as that bon vivant host of the TV show “The Galloping Gourmet.” That was WAY back when there was no Food Network or The Cooking Channel clogging up our media arteries. Graham was pretty much one of the “pioneers” of TV Chefs, right alongside Julia.
I like that notion of being a “pioneer.” There’s an element of adventure to it. And we Americans L O V E, love the idea of adventure. Proof? The vast number of us drive around in Sport Utility Vehicles, Off-Road Four-wheel Rigs, and Industrial-strength Trucks, none of which will EVER sully their wheels in yukky dirt that may lurk off the paved path. Why would we do that? Because we seek the IDENTITY of being perceived as adventurous individuals, having that “cache” about us. (Author’s note: I’m pointing a finger directly at myself here.)
Know what’s an essential element of real, true adventure? R I S K, risk. When you think of adventure, what pops into your mind, if not something challenging, that stretches you beyond your comfort zone, that could result in failure, that brings with it the unexpected, even danger? Yup… there’s risk in learning to be a good host, practicing hospitality, and being a good neighbor. But like Julia said, “One learns by doing”.
What’s cool is that ANYONE can experience the adventure of hospitality! So whaddaya say….let’s VENTURE OUT by INVITING IN… real close to home… your neighbors! Not a lot of equipment required. All you’re gonna need is a table. Got one of those? No? O.K. Can you pop open 2 beverage containers and share one?
Mike Hearl (SUV owner, Table owner)