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New Year’s Manifesto

Tue Jan 13, 2009

New Year's Dinner

For someone who hates to be late, I’ve always had an awfully loose concept of time. For years I liked to set every clock in the house differently, just to remind myself how arbitrary, ultimately, the numbers all were. But as I’ve gotten busier, I’ve also become hyper aware of time—how much I’m wasting, how much I have to myself and how much I devote to particular projects. And surprisingly, instead of feeling the weight of it all, I often feel lighter because, after all, there’s only so much time in the day. The past few weeks have been unbelievably busy. Brooke (a.k.a. Food Woolf) and I spent all of New Year’s Day cooking a multi-course Italian dinner for our significant others, White on Rice Couple and Matt of Matt Bites and his husband, Adam. I spent the next few days cleaning up. Then, in addition to our full time jobs, we managed to finish our book proposal. Oh yeah. And Neal and I got engaged.

My relationship with Neal evolved over the dinner table. We were roommates first, and we got to know each other as I cooked meals that we sat and ate together, cloth napkins folded in our laps, nearly every night. He ate everything I made, from the homemade hummus and pitas I made for his birthday (his favorite) to the salmon croquettes I throw together when I don’t feel like cooking. And he always waited until after he tried something and liked it to tell me that it wasn’t something that he usually enjoyed. And he cooked too, on the nights that I just couldn’t muster the energy, dishes like zucchini basil soup and fried shrimp with spaghetti aglio e olio. With each forkful we got to know each other better, digesting little facts about each other’s lives and views. It was Neal who encouraged me to start writing more about cooking—both the successes and the failures—and Neal who patiently waited to tuck into his meal while I took pictures of everything on the table. And we still sit and eat together nearly every night.  So it seems only fitting, as I think about married life, I’m also thinking about food.

We haven’t really started planning our wedding yet—frankly I’m a bit overwhelmed at the prospect (unlike some girls, I haven’t had it all plotted out in my head since I was five), but I have started imagining married life, and I’m excited. So, as my first commitment to Neal and our life together, I’ve put together a little Eaters’ Manifesto, a couple of resolutions, if you will, but I don’t need to wait to get married to start them.

1) Eat more plants, less meat.
I know this sounds crazy, especially from a girl who fell off the vegetarian wagon whole hog, but I do think we eat a bit too much meat. We eat plenty of veggies, too, bought at the peak of freshness of the farmers’ market, but it wouldn’t hurt to eat more. Our meat portions are already pretty small, so I’m going to try to cook one vegetarian meal a week. In the end I think it will be better for the planet, our pocketbook and our health.

2) Have more dinner parties.
Sharing food with friends is good for you physically and emotionally. Dinner parties are usually filled with good conversation, good food and good wine. And they get you to slow down and enjoy—two things we should all find more time to do.

3) Say grace.
I don’t mean grace in the traditional sense. I’m not religious. And I don’t necessarily mean out loud. But a simple moment of gratitude before our meals seems appropriate:

Thank you to the farmers that grew my food and the ranchers who thoughtfully raised my meat. Thank you for the means to eat well, the time to cook and a person/people to share my meals with.

Happy New Year.

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7 Responses to “New Year’s Manifesto”

  1. kat Says:


  2. Sky Says:

    Nice writing girl! Huge congats to you and your future hubby. I am in agreement with the goals you have put out. I think I’ll try for them all too. Hugs!

  3. Leah Greenstein Says:

    Thanks Kat and Sky! Happy eating 🙂

  4. Food Woolf Says:

    I’ll keep saying it–just cause I can–I am so happy for you and Neal!

    And I love your manifesto. I shouldn’t be surprised to discover we share the same eating ideals–but honestly, just recently I found myself thinking how important it is to work more vegetarian meals into our weekly menu…Go figure…We really are thinking like a team!

    xoxox, Brooke

  5. Neal Says:

    Thank you, Darling!

    The ideals that you laid out in your manifesto are a great reminder of why I’m marrying you. You’re self-aware, you value your friends and family above all else and your are humble. I am so lucky to be able to spend my life with such a beautiful person.

    I love you.

  6. maggie Says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like a lovely new years.

  7. White On Rice Couple Says:

    First of all, thank you for such an AMAZING dinner! Every singe bite of your wonderful dishes was magical. Better yet, watching you work in the kitchen was even more inspiring.
    Congrats to both you and Neal! You two are like fine wines. The love and commitment between you both is only going to get better with age.
    Cheers to a fabulous 2009 for the both of you!

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