Zeal. I think that better describes my appreciation for eating than obsession. If I was obsessed with eating, I would care only about eating, right? Not be passionate about the whole thing? And my appreciation for eating goes beyond just the consumption of food to the consumption of the entire experience: the aesthetic and the where, why, how and who of the whole thing.

For instance,Β I could be grabbing an egg and cheese breakfast bagel on a weekday morning but I wouldn’t want to eat it in a rush or while driving. The smear of grease on the wax paper, the cheese that dripped off the side and is begging to be pinched off the side, the properly cooked yolk that’s firm enough to stay intact while you handle this sandwich but bursts the second your teeth pierce anything half an inch away from it–I want to sit and take that all in. You’ve heard me gush about food details before, but I also think about where I am buying that food from (the cafΓ©, the owner, the other people in the room and why we’re together this morning), how I’m feeling, and you can bet that I already know what I’m eating later that day and how that fits with what I’m eating at that moment. I know. You’re leaning toward “obsessed” again, aren’t you?

You can imagine that I bring this… passion (no? still obsession?) to creating dining experiences at home, for my guests or even for myself. That shouldn’t be mistaken for fussing–I love to eat with my hands and I think there are meals that are meant to be eaten on the couch watching True Blood. But I will reach for a long, thin platter or a very deep bowl if I think it will make what I’m serving more attractive or change how I pick at something. I’m thrilled to eat at someone’s home when they’re making traditional food and serving it just they way they ate it all their life. I’m just as excited to have the most casual of meals at their home, the hectic one they were going to have even if I didn’t come over, on everyday plates on a cluttered table. More experiences to relish.

So I’ve dedicated this week to the things that make up the experience of cooking and eating at home, aside from the food. I’m showing you the table looks I’m drawn to these days, the cooking and serving tools I can’t live without right now, and we’re going behind the scenes with a housewares retailer I totally admire–and also with me, to show you how not to throw a dinner party. To say I’m getting better at it now is to remind myself of the scale of the early disasters. Imagine the smoke alarm going off 12 times in one night. Legitimately. Yeah. Stay tuned!

le sauce: maison, coming up.