Since Sunday evening I’ve been staying at PenHouse Retreat Center in Frankfort, Kentucky for some peaceful time to reflect and write. The big, old house with porches on every side offers spacious rooms, generous light and the melody of birds and insects. Those charms do not surpass that of the warm host and hostess—David and Normandi—readily offering their garden meals along with lively conversation.
I’ve often thought I would like to have a place like this to offer to artists, but if I were cooking, I fear there would be little peace for me. I always feel a need to fill a table with options so if my guest doesn’t like one dish, another will suffice. It often means hours of preparation and lots of fussing to make the table look grand.
As I sit at some else’s table, I appreciate the simple goodness of a garden meal in which the natural flavors stand on their own. Cabbage slaw, Goose beans, corn on chicken, garden-fresh spaghetti sauce. Oh yes, I’ve been treated well. Rich flavors intertwine with funny stories and lessons from the journey others are taking in life.
The next time I welcome guests, I hope I can remember that the most enjoyable meal requires more than detailed preparation. It’s the simplest of foods and most genuine of conversations that create the best dining experiences.