I am very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by smart, interesting, and hilarious women. I am even more fortunate because I often get to eat with them. That’s a very particular privilege, as most women know, and when it’s done well, a good, solid girls night dinner is a tonic for your soul. Take my book club. Oh, stop – I feel your collective eye roll. “How stereotypical, you’re in book club and all you do is hang out and drink wine and eat extra dessert and talk about your husbands instead of the book.” Damn right, that’s what we do. When we get together, we do in fact drink wine (often excellent wine from a vineyard founded and run by one of our members), have second helpings, and linger over the dinner table to discuss our love life and our day. It should be no surprise, however, that we also discuss books, politics, culture, business, and religion. That’s what happens when you get a table of interesting women together. The dessert course at my book club is the modern equivalent of the Viennese coffee house. Ideas flow, great notions are put forward, and lists of cultural consumables are made. Whatever we are eating, whatever is on our minds, and whatever is happening in the world come together with a lovely sort of conviviality that means there is always something to talk about – and more often than not the conversation veers into high-level socio-political places we didn’t anticipate. Our dinners, though, are simply a modern day version of what eons of women have done before us. We are sharing the food and conversations that help make the world go ‘round. In the past we might have been roasting a goat, or snapping peas, or discussing who in the village has cholera, but our gatherings served the same sociological purpose: we are keeping each other sane, helping each other navigate life, and giving each other the gut checks that help to ward off the strife that could ruin us. We are also eating good food and feeding our souls so we can go fill the bellies and souls of the people around us. And that is extremely important.
Tonight, I had dinner with two great friends of mine. We shared a few drinks and a plate of perfectly fried okra and talked, and it was the most therapeutic and earth-shattering thing any of us could possibly do on a Thursday. Sure, we drank an extra bourbon and ranted about trashy books and our spouses (all good things, all good things, especially the bourbon), but we also discussed Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the meaning and motivations behind certain Jewish religious and cultural traditions, and effective corporate structure. We made critical declarations and shared personal revelations over sorghum-soaked date cake with buttermilk ice cream and a slice of house-made strawberry pie. From across the room, it would have been easy to peg us as the silly, giggling table of gals having a night out without the kids. That’s exactly what we were doing. But we were also saving the world. That’s the power of a shared meal, and more importantly, the power of a shared meal between interesting women. Give us four spoons and one plate of dessert, and we’ll give you the foundations of society. Even better, send us over an extra piece of strawberry pie. We will have this cold fusion thing licked in no time.
Hi. I'm Amanda Dobbs.