Oh, the Pasta-bilities…
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – Federico Fellini
One of my favorite things about hosting is setting the scene. I get such nachas (pride/gratification) from creating an environment that people can walk into and feel at home and ready to relax. Sometimes I’ll opt for take-out so that I can spend my prep-time cleaning my apartment and decorating, not having to worry about undercooking chicken or burning the challah.
I love a good spectacle, so you can imagine how weird it felt to invite people to a OneTable Chicago NOSH:pitality that had ZERO table decor and no food ready. On April 3, 2017, a group of OneTable hosts and guests gathered at the Chopping Block in downtown Chicago for our Pre-Pesach Pasta Making NOSH and walked into an industrial kitchen with an unset table and empty food platters.
The room filled up quickly with giggles and movement as the Chopping Block’s head chef, Joey Hahn, explained our game plan. We’d all group off to prepare a dish for the larger group, learning kitchen skills with each task,* curating the perfect Italian menu along the way. The end goal? Be ready for dinner by 8pm. Ready, set, go.
We tightened our aprons and assumed our stations and before our eyes, a full meal appeared. The gears in the pasta machine grinded while people asked “is this my wine or yours?” as we all worked to pull it together, each person taking pride in their contribution. The food was beautiful but we needed a table to match. A small group of us gathered and began folding napkins, setting down plates and laying out silverware. Setting by setting, centerpiece by centerpiece, the table filled up with color, cutlery, and an open seat for everyone. Above all, we all put it together as a team which made sitting down to take our first bites even more rewarding.
Sometimes as a host, I get caught up in making sure it’s a perfect evening for my guests. I show my stubborn side when someone offers to help me prepare and I decline, knowing that the bragging-rights for a successful evening will be all mine. Pasta making at The Chopping Block reminded me that even though it’s fun to take credit for hosting, sharing the work allows each person involved to show up in an intentional way. I’d add something about how “teamwork makes the dream work” but I’ll spare you the cliche. Instead, I’ll share that this particular NOSH:pitality emphasized that sharing work with others invites them to take pride in the preparation of a shared experience. It’s not less work for you, it’s more joy for them.
*Pro-tip: If you use a knife to clear off your cutting board, turn the edge upwards and use the “spine” of the knife to scrape your cuttings off the surface. That way, you don’t dull the blade while you’re using it as a “food rake.”