An Evening with The Fresh Palate

From Anne Clelland:

“Life has become a song to me.”
John Cougar Mellencamp, NPR Interview, 3/31/09

Our walls are orange and, at night, they glow with the reflection of our guests' faces as if the whole world truly is made of light.

Last week was my turn to host my women’s book club.  I eat spaghetti with Ragu most days for lunch, and for dinner, too, if Mr. Handshake 2.0 is working late.  I am not tired of spaghetti, but my book club is, so when I read of the savory fare described by Z. Kelly Queijo in her post on The Fresh Palate, I felt as if I were discovering a gift to give.  

A tasting of fresh fare from The Fresh Palate

Beth Barnett-Boebel, founder of The Fresh Palate, was so kind to offer a tasting from The Fresh Palate’s menu from one woman entrepreneur to another.  She conferred with Chef Giovanni Guarini, made suggestions, and I said yes and yes to black bean crêpes and vegetable-filled ravioli and tiramisu.

In the days of the hope chest, my grandmother – now 99 years old – went with me to select my china and silver patterns and I have collected pieces for over three decades now.  I love setting a beautiful table, but had to laugh as I placed sterling silver on paper napkins, marveling at what I used to think was very, very important.

And then, as in the world of Web 2.0 where all intimacy begins with text – our connection began on Twitter, @thefreshpalate and @handshake20, then moved to e-mail, then to phone – Beth arrived at my house and we had never met.  She got to the back stairs before I could come out to greet her, so my first impression of her was of her lovely, bright face looking up into mine. 

I felt so in-the-know as we unpacked The Fresh Palate’s special delivery containers, each full of perfectly wrapped ingredients.  I treasured being allowed to be part of an expert process, of which I knew nothing, even for a few moments.

Beth Barnett-Boebel, founder of The Fresh Palatel And then the women arrived and we laughed and talked and sipped wine and asked Beth how she made this and how she made that and we ate black bean crêpes and then a cheese torte and then we sat in a circle to talk about the book while Beth began rolling out homemade pasta for the ravioli.

I read the first 600 pages of Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed pushing back, then keening.  It is about Columbine so it is about here.  In the six weeks before I finished the last 100 pages, I just had to be with, one more time, what was and what is.

Within the light of the orange walls, we sat close, and spoke our stories, and cried in chorus.

And with us, Beth, expecting a child, rolled homemade pasta, a gift of herself and of her brand-new business, for the women gathered with their broken, hopeful hearts.

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  1. Funny that you quoted John Mellencamp at the beginning – he’s been my all time favorite musician for as long as I can remember.

  2. There are events in our lives that mark us. We are branded, date and time-stamped, by these events. Columbine is one such event. I’ll never forget glancing up at a television mounted up high for viewing by the conference crowd. I stood there should to shoulder among educators, college registrars, and high school guidance counselors. A collective shock wave of grief and disbelief flowed among us. It was a moment, a moment shared with people whose lives are dedicated to helping high school children. Hopeful hearts, broken. I will never forget that moment.

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