Slow Food

, as I was reading the web pages I'm about to talk about I thought of you and these amazing dinner parties you write about. (You should be a food writer, truly.)

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On the phone with my aunt last night, we were discussing different organizations/places where she could set up signings and readings from her book (she got the galleys on Monday!), and since it's about ethnic gardens, and immigrant gardens, I suggested things like local farmers markets (the Dallas one offers cooking classes and such) and Botanical Gardens.

In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that I was making lasagne as we were chatting, and using Pasta Barilla's “no boil” noodles. (I know, I know, I should make my own pasta. Consider this an experiment.) From there, the topic shifted to Slow Food, and she mocked me for being unfamiliar with the concept.

Basically, it's a reaction to the American fast-food lifestyle, and it includes everything from returning to the use of whole and wholesome foods in cooking, to celebrating the pleasure of dining. It began in Italy, where the celebration of dining is a national sport, really, but it's spread across Europe, and to the US. In fact, I learned just now that Dallas has it's own chapter of SlowFoodUSA.

Events range from cooking demos and lectures to gourmet potlucks called “Conviviums” at which guests are often instructed that at least one ingredient must be from a local source, and, at least with the Dallas branch, links to things like farmers who specialize in organic foods and free-range poultry, to where to find local stuff in our city-block-wide farmers' market.

Of course, now I'm dying to host a dinner party.

Pumpkins and Flowers

I love decorating for the season. Summer is difficult for me, because it has no real theme, but fall, winter, spring, those seasons always inspire me.

Today my grocery order included three large pumpkins, and, as they were three for $10, three bouquets of fresh flowers.

The pumpkins are currently lined up along the breakfast bar, waiting patiently for their lobotomies, which will take place sometime next week. (I've assured the waiting squash that they'll feel no pain.)

The flowers, in an array of candy corn and other seasonal colors and one stray fuschia Gerbera daisy, have been split and rearranged and now fill four vases (kitchen table, mantle, my dresser, my desk), and a tiny bud vase in the bathroom. I love having the house filled with flowers, and I smile now as I move from room to room.

This weekend, I'll actually do the Halloween decorating. I confess: I own pumpkin lighs, which are like Christmas lights except they're covered by little plastic jack-o-lanterns. I can't wait.

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