Dinner: Rules that Resonate

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Jenny Rosenstrach’s book, Dinner: A Love Story, is getting some buzz, but I actually first learned of Rosenstrach in a Reader’s Digest article titled “A Witty, Wise Dinner Guide,” which I perused while sitting in the pediatrician’s office with one of my children who was suffering from some ailment I can no longer remember because as I write this it is early and I have not had coffee and there are so many children in my house and, thus, too many ailments to remember. So. Now.

I would like Rosenstrach. I’d say almost all of us would like Rosenstrach. Her book offers a sweet, blurred-line view of life through a soft lens focused squarely on the family kitchen. She celebrates the simple pleasure of cooking and eating together, and the photographs and recipes only add to the beauty.

Of Rosenstrach’s “50 Rules of Dinner,” I have my favorites (#4 is so me I can’t even begin to speak of the numerous disasters) including:

#37. When someone says they drink “one to two” glasses of wine a night, you can pretty much assume it’s two.

#15. Resist the urge to apologize when you’re cooking for people. Most of the time your dinner guests won’t notice anything is wrong until you bring it up.

and…

#50. You end the day with family dinner.

And Rosenstrach’s husband, Andy, offers his take on the next 50 – the best in my humble opinion are:

#75. If someone cooks dinner for you and that dinner is delicious, and you enjoy eating it, say so. Say, “Oh my God, this is so good. This is INSANE.”

#76. If someone cooks dinner for you and that dinner is maybe not the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your life, but still, it clearly required thought and time and work and, yes, love, say, “Oh my God, this is so good. This is INSANE.”

#77. If you cook dinner for someone, and that person is not super forthcoming with his or her expressions of happiness or gratitude, you must (a) fight every urge to ask them if they like it, and (b) think twice about cooking for that person again.

Take a look at the entire list here – and relish the time you have cooking and eating and laughing and drinking with friends and family both old and young. As Rosenstrach reminds us, both the successes and the mishaps that happen in the kitchen are gifts.

(submitted by Stephanie Blackford)

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