Category Archives: Hospitality Morality

The Amalfi Hotel – Chicago

I’m trying to think of a legitimate reason why we wouldn’t return to Chicago’s Amalfi Hotel (in the Near North Side neighborhood).  It wouldn’t be for the service, location, dependability, cleanliness, accommodations, or perks.  Check-in and -out was a breeze. The room was more than ample-sized for a Chicago hotel.  There’s a deluxe breakfast spread every morning on each hotel floor—free.  There’s a drinks and appetizer reception on the 6th floor every night—again, free.  Newspaper—free.  Water at check-in—free. In 10 minutes after our call, a hotel engineer appeared to fix our minor toilet leak.  The only reason, expressed by my son, is that the boutiqueness doesn’t extend beyond the lobby.

Continue reading


The Cote d’Azur Is More Than Nice

Nice isn’t what my husband and I expected.  We expected it to be, well, French. But it’s just as much—maybe more—Italian.  Picture being in an Italian countryside village like Assisi but with crepes and us speak English and practice it themselves.  Gloriously, there’s no Parisian language conceit.  In fact, Niceans are more accepting and relaxed all around.  For example, suddenly, while eating al fresco at a “kitchen”-type restaurant, munching on a rather mediocre salad Nicoise (originated in Nice, of course), an older man at a nearby table broke into song, soon joined by his fellow diners.  This went on for quite some time—until they left.  No one except my husband and I seemed to notice, yet alone mind.  Frankly, all my when-in-Rome hospitality convictions failed me as we found their extravagant warbling to be more annoying than charming.  Rather than enjoy the novelty, we analyzed the spectacle to death: What if we tried that? What if we joined it?  What if we voiced our disapproval?  Bad, bad hospitality on our part, I confess. Other than that episode, we found Niceans to be friendly and accepting. Continue reading

Paris Syndrome

To be clear, I’m addressing Parisian hospitality, not the national hospitality of France.

France is my favorite place to visit, and Paris was high on my France list…until now.  I just returned from 6 nights in Paris.  Unfortunately, the Parisians—their rudeness, loudness, condescension, and lack of culinary effort—consistently disappointed me on my trip last week.

OK, I’m not saying I had “Paris Syndrome,” which is described by Wikipedia as follows: Continue reading

Hotels – Las Chullpas Eco-Lodge

Quero Cancha EN, Urubamba 084, Peru

Las Chullpas  is up on the mountain away from town but oh so wonderful! We found no reason to leave except to venture out hiking. The rooms are comfortable but with a rustic feel to them. They have used some clever ideas in the rooms and around the grounds that just put a smile on your face. See what they’ve done recycling bottles. They have wonderfully hot, hot showers! There are beautiful garden areas to sit in and enjoy a cup of coca tea. Also herb gardens all around. Continue reading

Hotels – The W

The W on Lexington Avenue in New York City — not our usual Starwood Hotel experience.

Although not informed at booking or during several calls to the hotel, our request for adjoining rooms lost us 50 sq. So instead of our usual Starwood upgrade, we were downgraded. No free rollaway or breakfast coupons compensated for the cramped space. Our final bill listed a $148 charge for touching sensored mini-bar items, which resulted in a ten-minute dispute at the reception desk. Continue reading

Sandy Coughlin’s The Reluctant Entertainer Well Worth Reading

My 10 Commandments of Hospitality:

          1. “Hospitality is not about you.”

I was just reading today that the host’s hospitality goal is not her own self-actualization but an appreciation of her guest’s identity. Hans-Georg Gadamer has worked on this issue of the possibility of ever knowing another’s “horizons.” Here’s what Thomas W. Ogletree notes: “This emphasis is a corrective to the Western tendency to begin and end the experiences of others in terms of his or her own experiences, and who assimilates the moral import of the other into his or her own self-actualization.”  Continue reading

Hotels – Hospederia Guts Muths

Clean, comfortable, and unique in Calle de la Matanza, Santiago Millas, Spain.

We were greeted upon our arrival by the friendly and helpful Shubert from the Netherlands. He and his wife operate this 17th century house, providing lodging, meals, and tourist information. The rooms are comfortable and roomy. We booked a triple for about $100.

There is a big lobby with seating, a large dining room, a lovely garden for al fresco dining, a lodge with a fireplace, a library, and another sitting room. Continue reading

Hotels – Pazo Cibran

San Xulian de Sales, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

This 17th century country house affords the traveler a real treat–a taste of the countryside in Galicia, a leisurely Spanish breakfast, an impeccably clean room with grand bath, enchanting communal area, and a lovely lawn/garden.

Continue reading

American Dervish

Akhtar, Ayad. American Dervish. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.

Here’s the plot background for what I want to address: Nathan is a Jew who hopes to marry Mina who is a Muslim. Intending to convert to being a Muslim, Nathan tells his father, who has lost most of his family in the Holocaust, about his plans. His father warns, “No one will ever see you as anything other than a Jew” (178). But Mina’s sister irenically assures Nathan, “It’s what’s different about us—once you’re a Muslim, that’s who you are. And it doesn’t matter what you were or where you come from—it’s a true democracy. Where everyone gets to vote” (178-179).

Hurray for hospitality!

Continue reading

Constructive vs. Constricting Holiday Traditions

More and more, I’ve been puzzling about the limitations of hospitality.  Most recently, I’ve been worrying about the limits of holiday hospitality as it relates to the concept of tradition.  I’m wondering if some traditions are clearly designed to be exclusionary and thus, intend inhospitality.

Before I begin my bombast, I grant that under the banner of “tradition,” many people celebrate and communicate together, privileging the gathered more than the gathering.  I remember a holiday meal when, after 4 of the 20 guests were served their plates, the cook (from the kitchen) announced that the rest of the meat was too undercooked, which meant another 15-20 minutes seated without food.  Hell, what did we care?  We opened another bottle, passed it around, and continued our conversations around the long table.  That’s what I mean by privileging the gathered.  And, by the way, it was the absolutely best lamb chop I’ve ever tasted.

Continue reading

Unnecessary Kindness

I’m thinking about the phrase “unnecessary kindness” that I read in someone’s blog story this morning.  The scenario was common enough: letting someone into a line when you’ve been waiting your turn. The outcome was less common: the merging driver pays your toll.

Continue reading

Frustrated with the Mess Public

I live in a Southern town with a huge military complex.  So don’t think Southern hospitality.  Think transient, fast-food, chains, payday frenzy, and fatigues.

For the most part, it’s futile to expect hospitality when being served.  After most shopping trips, I slink home disgusted with how I’ve been treated and determined to fling myself on any on-line website that I can count on.

Lest I continue to just rant away, I’m struggling to be positive.  I was driving to work today in silence because evidently, I can’t have a new battery along with 1) windows that raise up electronically, 2) a radio, 3) a cassette player, and 4) I’m afraid to know what else doesn’t work.  In order to stop thinking about how dealing with the mess public pisses me off, I began enumerating positive experiences.  I award the folks at these places (listed in no relevant order) my first annual Hospitality Morality Award.

Continue reading

Hospitality and Card Playing

My husband and I play cards sometimes 3 times a day.  We call it Solitaire War.  We become very physical, me especially.  I never cheat but…there’s no way around admitting it…I am a sore loser.  I throw cards.  I scrape back my chair, rising furiously.  I wage outrageous accusations of “snaking,” sabotaging, and stalling.  Sometimes, I do all of this  even before we finish the game, I guess, because if I’m going to lose, at least my opponent won’t win. Lately, I’ve gotten worse because I’ve been losing more.  And I can’t figure out why.  I’ve been considering playing faster or more slowly, watching his cards being played while I’m playing mine, concentrating on playing my Kings and forgetting about the rest of my cards, preventing him from playing his Kings, and deliberately blocking future playing when I know I’ve played more cards.

Until now, I’ve spent little time considering my bad manners. But I just don’t see any way around it.  It’s not that I love to win so much as I absolutely must beat my husband–at cards.  Every time. Every day.

Well, at least I don’t cheat.


I returned from 16 days visiting family (but who’s counting?) to find a nearly bare refrigerator.  Faced with only veggie burgers and my homemade pickles, lunch was slim pickin’s. However, this provided me with an opportunity to savor the pickles I made a few weeks ago and to research in my newly acquired Food Lover’s Companion (by Sharon Tyler Herbst) the subject of pickles.

As a noun, pickles are created from submersion in brine or vinegar.  You can pickle cucumbers, onions, watermelon rind, cauliflower, pig’s feet, eggs, herring….You can add spices, like dill for dill pickles.  You can go sweet, sour, hot, or a combination.  As a verb, to pickle is to preserve in a brine or vinegar mixture, which is one type of curing.

Continue reading

Perfect Bite

Yesterday, I made a meal for an injured friend. At the onset of her Baltic cruise, she fell on her back and remained inside her inside cabin for the duration of the cruise.  The story gets worse, but you get the idea.  Anyway, my meal.  I wanted to keep it simple and “comfort foody.”  I chose gravy and turkey breast (roasted in gravy with mayo smeared all over it), a slightly spicy and really gooey squash casserole, and crock pot mashed potatoes with butter and cream cheese.  Can you picture all that on the plate–a study in whitish-grey?  It comforted about as much as a Robert Rauschenberg white painting.  And, frankly, it looked just as unappealing.  Too late to revamp (or too lazy), I decided to mock my aesthetically-challenged meal and added rolls, apple pie, and daisies to complete the look.

That night, my husband and I ate the other half of the main meal.  After serving our portions on bright blue plates, I couldn’t stand the blahness of it and threw in sugar snap green beans at the last minute.

OMG it was so yummy. Except for the last-minute green beans.  In fact, they really didn’t fit in at all. It would have been better tasting as an all-white creation.  Rauschenberg redeemed.

This brings me to my culinary epiphany: Why shatter the perfect velvety bite of cheesy casserole, gravied turkey, and mashed potatoes with crunch and…nutrition?

Continue reading

Touring with a Group

If you’ve ever toured with a group, you know the pluses and minuses of traveling together, many of which relate to hospitality.

I’m very, very tempted to rant about several hospitality fatalities encountered during my experiences touring with other travelers. But in the spirit of good relations, I’ll veer toward prescriptions.

Continue reading

Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.   New York: Crown Publishers, 2010.

As much as I blasted The Help  for how it handles the ethics of being a listener to and conveyor of someone else’s stories, I would like to laud The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for its respectful handling of the life of Henrietta Lacks, her family, and others associated with the life of the HeLa cells.

But before launching into my encomium on this point, let me assure you that this is a fascinating book for other reasons, as well.  Here’s why: 1) You’ll learn about the HeLa cells and lots of other cool medical stuff.  2) You’ll meet people who refuse to tell their stories and appreciate their courage when they relent. 3) You’ll empathize with your narrator who’s trying to make sense of conflicting information amidst reactions of hatred, confusion, and paranoia. 4) You’ll get a glimpse into what can and can’t be done with the fluids and matter taken from you during lab appointments and checkups. 5) You’ll marvel at the immortality of one Mrs. Henrietta Lacks, who now has a name, a history, and a legacy.  You will realize how much we all owe her.
Continue reading

Vowel, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates

Vowel, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008.

“The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don’t mean thought-provoking.  I mean: might get people killed” (1).  So begins Sarah Vowel’s rendition of the American “Puritans who fall between the cracks of 1620 Plymouth and  1692 Salem, the ones who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony and then Rhode Island during what came to be called the Great Migration” (23). Admittedly, she’s no Perry Miller although she has read his works.  Rather, Vowel is funny, often irreverent, and always fact-oriented.  She’s done her homework and then some—travelling to many historic sights for an often disappointing but usually enlightening view of how we have memorialized (or failed to) these historic figures and events.
Continue reading

Hospitality in the Digital Age

I decided to go “home” for Christmas even though I don’t like Christmas.  Of all the hospitality issues that I pondered discussing here—my sister’s irritation with her husband (the “ghost host,”), unofficially co-hosting a dinner in someone else’s kitchen, and more—I decided to address texting during our “circle of death” multi-family gatherings.  Let me go on record as confessing that I am no Luddite.  I’m obsessed with my smart phone, laptop, Ipod, blogs, podcasts, apps, Kindle, etc.  However, I just couldn’t condone couch-texting while visiting family members whom you haven’t seen in months.  That was a week ago.
Continue reading

Help for Mel: calling all cooks for non-oven/stove recipes

Dear Readers,

My sister Mel is embarking on a 3 month kitchen renovation. She will not have use of a stove or oven but will have a toaster over, microwave, Crockpot, outdoor grill, and maybe a Foreman grill or Panini machine.

Let’s extend our hospitality to her and her family by sending stove/ovenless recipes.


I’ll start us out…
Continue reading

The Kids Are All Right

Cholodenko, Lisa, Dir. The Kids Are All Right. Mandalay Vision, 2010.

Spoiler alert…plot details toward the end of the film are disclosed in this blog.

After a lesbian married couple discovers that their 2 teenage kids have secretly invited their sperm donor (same guy) into their family’s life, they struggle to embrace his arrival into their lives. Actually, only one mother struggles; the other has an affair with Donor Dad. If this isn’t a hospitality concern, what is?
Continue reading

The Blind Side’s Vision of Hospitality

Over and over, Hospitality Morality has struggled with two hospitality philosophies: risk vs. reciprocity. Should the host–as the early Christians, ancient Greeks, medieval Europeans, and a host of modern philosophers contend–extend hospitality at potentially great risk and without return? Or should the host—as contemporary etiquette books, the travel industry, and Hollywood movies argue—maintain a modicum of control and expect gratitude?
Continue reading

Hospitality Lessons for Same-sex Weddings

Same-sex fiancés living in states that don’t grant same-sex marriages must “elope” to legally marry. Obviously, this scenario differs significantly from the typical elopement attitude of “screw everyone, we’re out of here.” Hospitality Morality would like to explore these differences in an attempt to discard the word “elopement” as applied to same-sex out-of-state weddings and, therefore, dispel any sense of rejecting. HM would like to investigate some of the delicacies of this situation and offer a few hospitality lessons—learned, as usual, on the heals of failing big time at each of them. 😦
Continue reading

Hospitality at the Sports Center

Whether you’re aware of it or not, sports and sports centers depend on hospitality.

Take, for example, the concept of a lap lane. The sign says it all: “continuous swimming” is required. As such, “lap” becomes a verb: “to complete the circuit of (a racecourse)” or “to traverse a course” [Merriam Webster]. Hence, when a swimmer approaches a pool gabber with the request to “share” the lane, the polite nudge is to swim or give up the lane. Despite these three guides—the sign, the verb, and the nudge—said pool puddler will likely agree to share but remain gabbing in the lane. For your next 24 laps. This is unnecessary. The sports center has done its job, the lapper has done his job, but the swimless swimmer has not. Hospitality has been breached. And, as always, the question lurks, can one insist upon another’s hospitality? Yes. A simple conversation is appropriate the first time you must swim around the guy standing in the lap lane. It should go something like this: “It’s not easy to maintain my momentum when I have to swim around you.” No response? Next lap: “Wearing these goggles makes it difficult for me to see you. I’d hate to run into you.” No response?  Well, then you’ve beggared your hospitality strategies and must give up. The lug won; you lost. But if your finger tips should lightly graze the lap intruder on your next lap as you barely pass around him—due to the difficulty of spotting him, of course– you’ve broken no hospitality rules. And you may just find the lane a bit emptier upon your next lap. That’s one intruder handled if not hospitably, at least not inhospitably.
Continue reading

Telfer’s Food for Thought: notes and comments

source: Telfer, Elizabeth. Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food. London: Routledge, 1996.

Telfer reminds us of Plato’s, Aristotle’s, Kant’s, and Mill’s positions on morality, which she relates to the issues of pleasure and, ultimately, food. Plato, privileging the rational and the immortal, advocates surpassing the appetites in favor of pursuing the Forms. Aristotle, another fan of the rational, also, values practical wisdom and the pursuit of good for humans and not the gods. But beware, Epicureanism: “Aristotle rehabilitates the physical pleasures in the context of his account of the virtue of temperance, which he defines as the virtue concerned with the desire for the pleasures of food, drink and sex.” Kant, insisting on the moral will, affords hospitality the potential for ethic. Because Mill values pleasure, he allows for the merits of physical pleasure. In conclusion, the valuing and devaluing of pleasure depends upon the valuing and devaluing of the physical.
Continue reading


Rosello and Respect for Hospitality Research

In Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest, Mireille Rosello explores the relationship between hospitality ethics and hospitality laws. Concerned with France in the aftermath of the 1993 Pasqual immigration laws, Rosello concludes that the French government had virtually turned the “clandestine (illegal immigrant) into an enemy of the state, the most easily identifiable national scapegoat (1).” Citing this instance, Rosello more broadly reflects upon the long history of hospitality as “ancient classical tradition, a philosophical value, an ethical imperative, a political issue, and also a polymorphous individual practice… (6).” Laws govern hospitality. So do individuals.

I’m wondering if there might not be any philosophical difference between those governors. Or if there is, should there be?
Continue reading


My Top Ten Tips for Being a Good Guest

Perhaps I was too frank when I explained to you, my students, that I hesitate hosting another end-of-the-semester social because I sometimes get my feelings hurt. That’s not something professors should admit, I imagine, which is the essence of the problem. When I’m your host, I’m obligated to follow a different set of rules than in the classroom, starting with it’s rude for a host to inform guests that they’re being rude. No way around it. Revealing that dilemma to some of you last week sparked a few examples of how your mothers handle this situation and a few pleas that you would like to learn etiquette rules. Responding to your suggestions and requests, I give you My Top Ten Tips to Being a Good Guest.
Continue reading


Chile Rellenos with a Turkish flair

After an awesome meal of chile rellenos at my step-daughter’s apartment, I decided to revisit this Texan favorite, attempting to remove it from my kitchen disaster file.  Searching the internet, I found a recipe, courtesy of Ann Hazard, which I adapted because I wanted meat. Unfortunately, I had no ground beef in the house (scandalous!), but I had lamb patties.  Hence, the reason for the substitution.  I’m breaking this recipe’s steps into 2 categories: 1-2 days before and pre-eating.  The proportions depend on how meaty, cheesy, or beany you prefer.
Continue reading



I’m tempted to post a sign on my office door: “This office does not support the use of the word ‘busy.’”

First, let me explain the subject and verb. A few years ago, I received email responses from Institutional Computing personnel that began with, “This office does not support the use of…” It struck me as a diplomatic but also, officious strategy for saying, “We won’t allow…”
Continue reading


Lap Meal: No Knives, No Trays…Take 2

Chicken satay…

Mel comes through again!  She hosted a Bunko group and served them a menu perfect for our HM reader’s previous request for a meal you can eat away from the table, without a tray and a knife.

1. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Bird’s Nests (See that post.)
2. chicken satay (See Lap Meal Take 1 post.)
3. antipasto pinwheels
4. bacon and tomato puffs
5. chicken cilantro bites
6. chocolate caramel bars
7. fresh mozzarella and pesto tart
Continue reading

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Bird’s Nests

My sister Mel left me a voicemail message that began, “You’d better blog it…freakin’ vegetable bird’s nests at Trader Joe’s.”  She claims (and she’s always right about stuff like this) that these “bird’s nests” are easy to serve, nutritious, and “succulent.”

Continue reading


Readiness, Risk, and Hospitality Morality lessons from Amy G. Oden

In her book, And You Welcomed Me: A Sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity, Amy Oden expands our understanding of hospitality to ethical and spiritual realms. Much like the work of Emmanuel Lévinas and Martin Buber, Oden notes that acting humanely extends beyond offers of beverage, food, and entertainment. Respect is the precondition for such offerings. My mother used to say, “If you can’t do it out of love, don’t do it at all.” We are reminded of Martin Luther’s insistence that proper faith must ground all proper action or no value and goodness is achieved. To respect another involves, according to Oden, as well as Lévinas and Buber, a “recasting of social relations” in order to “reframe social relations and engender welcome” (14). Oden turns to the early Christians to guide us toward a moral awareness of and commitment to hospitality: “Early Christian voices tell us again and again that whether we are guest or host we must be ready, ready to welcome, ready to enter another’s world, ready to be vulnerable. This readiness is expectant. It may be akin to moral nerve. It exudes trust, not so much that one will succeed in some measurable way, but that participation in hospitality and its consequences. At the same time, the readiness that opens into hospitality also leads to repentance” (15). This readiness can be painful because it requires hosts to authentically reconsider initial perspectives of both guests and hosts themselves. Oden calls this a “de-centering of perspective,” which results in both parties discovering “something new, approaching the edge of the unfamiliar and crossing” (15). In such cases, hosts focus on their guests, not themselves.  Oden reflects, that although one may be entertaining at home, one longer feels “at home.” She cautions, “When we realize how we have inflated our own frame of reference and imposed it on all of reality, we know we have committed the sin of idolatry, of taking our own particular part and making it the whole.” Let’s stop here, leaving the early Christians behind for a moment, and personalize Oden’s premises.
Continue reading

Personal Identity, Reciprocity, and Hospitality Morality Lessons from Tracy McNulty

In The Hostess: Hospitality, Femininity, and the Expropriation of Identity, Tracy McNulty educates us that the word “hospitality” connotes both reciprocity* and “personal identity”** (ix). Doesn’t that present the essential dilemmas of hospitality? As a host, how can I be true to myself but authentically embrace true reciprocity in the spirit of Oden’s “readiness” (see Oden blog)? Beyond hospitality concerns, isn’t that the critical dilemma of literature, politics, education, relationships, and economics? That is, isn’t this hospitality dilemma between being an “I” and relating to a “you” the essential human struggle. McNulty agrees: “The problem of hospitality is coextensive with the development of Western civilization, occupying an essential place in virtually every religion and defining the most elementary of social relations: reciprocity, exogamy, potlatch, ‘brotherly love,’ nationhood. … “ (vii). Where once, hospitality was relegated to the decrees of the gods and hosts were forbidden to profit, today, hospitality is reduced to the “so-called hospitality industry (tourism) and a social and political discourse of parasitism, in which the stranger is construed as a hostile invader of the host nation or group” (viii). Has this exchange of divine order for economic exchange improved hospitality or has it, as McNulty insists, replaced authentic human interactions with “the irrational side of our relation to the stranger—fear, anxiety, and hatred—[which] seems to grow ever more virulent” (viii)?
Continue reading


The Stoics Weigh in on Hospitality…Take a page from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

As common as it is frustrating, hosts often deal with rude guests and thereafter, beg sages (or advice columnists) for permission to, if not return the rudeness, at least to put said offensive guest in her place. Rereading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations recently, I discovered a variety of advice, sometimes conflicting, for this hospitality dilemma.

Continue reading


Lap Meal: No Knives, No Trays. No Problems..Take 1

One of my daughters asked if I could solicit and compile recipes from all of you out there who read my blog.  The criterion for the recipes that she needs is a common one: food that can be eaten off of a plate off of a lap. She’s hosting a book club dinner and wants no knives, no trays, and no problems. We’ve all hosted these events…baby showers, Super Bowl parties, and salons.


Hospitality Defined: Move over Amy Sedaris

In her book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, Amy Sedaris begins with a welcoming opening letter to “[your name here].” The tone is personal and friendly as is the message. Unfortunately, Amy, I couldn’t disagree more with your philosophy of hospitality. Let’s take this one sentence at a time.*
Continue reading


Reclining Whining

I always seem to sit behind the airline passenger who reclines the seat into my lap. I’m not talking about a gentle 15 degree recline. I’m talking about a barcalounger-footrest-extended 60 degree recline. As far back as the seat will go. And then, there are the barbarians who add random jostling to insure that I lose even more comfort space. Is there anyone reading this who can explain to me how this, albeit airline-licensed, practice is hospitable? I’m willing to be educated. Or better yet, let’s change places and I’ll fly in your lap.


The Authoritarian Vegetarian

I’ll keep my first “Hospitality Fatality” rant short.  I must be dense because I don’t understand why being a vegetarian constitutes grounds for canonization.  You know what I’m talking about–the occasional eating companion who pompously declares, “I’m a vegetarian” as if the rest of us are cannibals.  Exactly what is so magnanimous about not eating meat and seafood? I want to reply, “Well, good for you. Chomp on them veggies.” I’m not irked at all vegetarians, just those self-righteous ones who think it’s somehow sanctimonious to bypass tortellini with truffles (where, exactly is the meat in that?) for a bowl of lettuce, shredded carrots, and sliced cucumbers sans dressing. Let’s face it. We have no clue if and who washed those veggies. Quite possibly, my succulent tortellini is the healthier order. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)  But despite my frustration, I promise to avoid the temptation to retort, “I’m a carnivore.”  I do so swear, with you as my witness, to abide by hospitality morality codes.  Until then, I just want to say, “Come on, let’s just order, eat, and get over ourselves.” Enough said.



Munster’s St. Lambert’s church.  Can you see the cages in which they murdered 3 Anabaptists by exposing and starving them?  Thankfully, modern Munsterians have altered their alterity issues.

I’ll stand by this statement despite one of my student’s dismay: The Germans are an hospitable people. I didn’t say that they wre friendly folk. No, you won’t see many people walking about smiling, joking, or laughing. But when it comes to hospitality, they get an “A” from this professor. Let me relate a few anecdotes.
Continue reading


Last Night’s Request #2 Lasagna

When the next Christmas guests were spending their last night, they requested lasagna.  This is tricky because my husband, who is my #1 favorite and most appreciative person to cook for, does not like Italian food–even my kickass lasagna.  Well, hospitality dictates a bow to the guests….
Continue reading


Last Night’s Request #1: Egg Rolls

As is typical of many family’s Christmas holidays, people visited at different times, striving to be together for at least one day/night.  This year, for a hospitable send-off, the next guests to leave were invited to choose the menu (or meal item) for their final dinner.  (I don’t mean to sound penal.)  

Continue reading


A Moveable Feast…How to host a luncheon and an open house at the same time

This blog focuses on the host’s need to be flexible…

It all started with a simple request from my oldest daughter, “Can we have a Christmas open house for our friends?” The other locally-raised siblings got on board. After a series of emails, the time was set for 5 PM – 7 PM. Thereafter, the family would open stockings and “real presents,” eat dinner, and partake in our free-for-all White Elephant escapade.  It sounded like a perfect plan.

Continue reading



We gathered at Iqbal’s and Sherrin’s house with her mother, who was visiting from Pakistan.

We enjoyed Aaalu Paratha (potato-filled pan-fried pancakes), homemade
yogurt, fruit, and tea with milk or
evaporated milk.  The pancakes have tiny diced bits of potato with corriander
seeds.  Sherrin lightly fried them
on the stove and we eagerly ate each hot as it came off the pan.  You break them in bits and dip them in the fresh yogurt.  They’re light but filling.  The whole experience is geared toward pleasing the guest as he or she keeps eating and conversing.
We learned about Pakistani hospitality codes…

Honors Program Holiday Social

I’m inaugurating a new direction for this blog. The new concept is customizing different types of events and relaying the organization, menu selections, and recipes. What I have in mind is to share the level of organization that it takes to afford the guests the most hospitable experience and allow the hosts the freedom and confidence to enjoy their own parties.

Continue reading


Grabbing Thanksgiving When You Can…

No one’s coming for Thanksgiving day. So I grabbed a pre-Thanksgiving opportunity to cook when many of us found ourselves together in DC–for various reasons. The meal’s menu didn’t resemble traditional Thanksgiving fare. However, the euphony among the chef, sous chef, and champion pot scrubber recalled the usual Thanksgiving kitchen preps.
The menu:
cheese ‘n mac
mashed potatoes

Continue reading


Retirement dinner with my mom and cousin

My husband and I hosted a retirement party for his tennis buddy/doctor and his wife.  My mom and cousin were visiting from Chicago, so it was a group of 6.
Here’s my menu…

Home Closing & Homecoming: The House of the Seven Gables and Wabi-Sabi

My daughter and son-in-law closed on their house after many weeks of lawsuit threats, contingency agreements come and gone, and worried phone calls to relatives.  The next day, they drove “home” for my daughter’s 10th year high school reunion.  We celebrated  their new adventure with a leisurely meal.
New homeowners come “home” for homecoming…
Continue reading

New parents’ meals

Baby Em arrived on Saturday, September 19!

We got “the call” that my daughter was in labor the night before.  Being all about the food, I packed a memory stick with computer recipes and headed up I-95 early the next morning. Happy mother and father.  Beautiful “baby girl.”  Me?  I was thrilled and relieved.  The next day, my all-about-the-food obsession kicked in.  I began eagerly planning the new family’s first meals.  Eventually, another voice emerged: Why was I so worried about food at a time like this? Where was my foci on family, sharing, gratitude, and celebration? For guidance, I turned to literature, asking myself what the Great Books had taught me about food and family.
Continue reading

Tribute to Theresa Pirron: 1905-2009

Theresa Pirron, 104, of Northbrook, July 14, 2009. Beloved wife of the late Karl; Loving mother of Pauline “Polly” (Andrew) Jerch; Proud grandmother of Rick (Janie) and Don (Janet) Jerch; Fond “Oma” of Susan (Andy) Shuckra, Kirsten Jerch, Megan (Ned)Irons, Cory, Michael and Rhiannon Jerch. Memorial Mass Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 10 am at St. Norbert Church , 1809 Walters Ave. Northbrook. Interment St. Joseph Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to The Northfield Food Pantry, 3801 W. Lake Ave. Glenview, IL 60026 or please perform a random act of kindness for someone. posted on the N. H. Scott & Hanekamp funeral home’s website.
Continue reading


Freezer Meals for Innocent Entertaining and Any Bitter Thing

Before I varoom to visit my oldest daughter when she labors and births, I’m freezing meals for my husband. Personal history indicates that each meal should serve two people–either for leftovers or a wholesome evening with a platonic friend. For example, say you’re 21. Your parents are on a trip. You invite someone to dinner, say, a neighborhood priest. You both eat your mother’s 2-person serving of thawed barbecue as you converse for hours in a non-date fashion. Because it is not a date. Because you are innocent of all such accusations. Because you are no hoyden.* Otherwise, would you have served such an innocent meal as your mom’s chili?
Continue reading