For as long as I’ve been in this rodeo we call life, besides Christmas, not-so-much Hanukkah, Thanksgiving has been the main attraction for our family; bringing a perfect storm of too much food, too many dishes, and too little help.
My mother has always started preparing for the holiday early, stocking up on every food item imaginable, creating and recreating table settings, decorations, and holiday playlists until the perfect balance of sophistication and effortlessness was made. The day of, my whole family is rushing about attempting to get everything finished and set up in time for the earliest guests, my grandparents, to arrive. It is hectic and tiring and usually ends up with everyone trying to get my mother to sit down in time for their food and hers to not get cold.
The kitchen holds the space of our memories, our mothers, our stories, our grandmothers, our culture, our grief, our longing… – Jules Blaine Davis
This is not to say that what my mom does and how she’s done it isn’t great; because it is. But man, it is so stressful every year and leaves everyone participating dazed and confused. So this year, I have convinced my family to do the opposite, and I think you should consider doing the same if you haven’t already begun with the holiday chaos. Simply put, no one does food simpler and as effortlessly as Jules Blaine Davis.
Jules Blaine Davis offers a reprieve but one that enmeshes simplicity and complexity — realistic and idealistic — artistic and not. Self-titled as a Kitchen Healer, JBD has started to change the way we have relationships with food, our bodies, and each other—and has quickly been praised by sites like Goop.
JDB says, “the kitchen holds the space of our memories, our mothers, our stories, our grandmothers, our culture, our grief, our longing, our smells, our sounds, our love, our anger, our too-much, our not-enough. Whether good or bad, sad or happy, layered or simple, the kitchen has the gorgeous capacity to hold us right where we are—at the same time it holds a sacred rhythm that we long for inside.”
Her perspective is alike, and yet unlike so many other food bloggers, wellness gurus or lifestyle experts out there. She acknowledges that we all have a basic need to eat, yet proposes, that with a deeper notion of self, we all need to be fed holistically, not just with food but with each other. And at the same time, she doesn’t place so much damn emphasis on needing to accomplish anything, but to simply “be.” Does that make sense?
My favorite topic JBD talks about is wood board love, a term coined by JBD, but has been used by the French for years as a “cheese board.” The simplest way to begin is by grabbing a knife and cutting up some fruit, cheese, some old veggies, “defrosted edamame” (her recommendation), old pizza, whatever you’ve got in your fridge; and create a conversation with it on a wood board for you or your family. Her tip is, “to not ask anyone if they are hungry. The answer is always YES. Everyone wants to be fed, to eat, to talk about the day with food like it’s a party.”
We need concepts and people like this changing the story of food and family meals and even if we, in our obstinance reject or snub them while they are gently teaching us that we are wrong.
The idea is simple enough. Stop trying and just begin eating. Stop gushing over trying to make everything perfect and just sit down and enjoy the company of one another. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly cooked meal, with garnishes and twenty-five different side plates. I understand that this concept might be difficult for some to swallow, just the idea of having to forgo all of the stress around Thanksgiving is a hard pill to swallow, but in an effort to actually have some time to be thankful and consider one another, maybe just maybe you could try wood board love, instead of turkey stove chaos. See what I did there? I understand that this is not really an entire meal, but it could be the perfect beginner for a small turkey roasting in the oven, instead of hors-d’oeuvres and charcuterie.
Maybe this will teach us a lesson, maybe it won’t, either way, we need new traditions in place of old traditions. Even if we think we don’t. We need concepts and people like this changing the story of food and family meals, even if we, in our obstinance reject or snub them while they are gently teaching us that we are wrong. We don’t know if it will work or not, all we know is that on a holiday that’s mission is thankfulness, we spend a large chunk of it indifferent to being thankful to one another. Maybe JBD knows how to change that, and maybe changing that starts with changing the way we think about food.