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Let’s Start Small


Some of my favorite traditions are the simplest ones: Wine-and-cheese dinners on my birthday; grilling sausage at midnight at family parties (no matter what time of year); playing cards with my grandparents on Christmas Eve. These rituals will often sneak up in tiny bursts, just when I’ve almost forgotten how great they are.

One that I often forget-then-remember at just the right times is my dad’s wine and peaches. This little number still emerges at holiday dinners and occasional family barbecues. The meal winds down as fruit trays and nut bowls replace dinner dishes. Wine glasses stay put, although most are abandoned as people wander from their place at the table. The men usually stay to argue and crack nuts while the ladies make coffee and kids escape to other rooms.

My dad isn’t much of a talker, so it isn’t unusual for him to sit back, listen to the banter, and just eat fruit. As a kid, this is when I’d end up on his lap. And it’s how I was introduced to his legendary wine and peaches. It’s as easy as it sounds: Peel a peach, cut it up, and plop the pieces in a glass of wine.

You might call this a lazy person’s sangria, but it’s hardly that. Nothing should interfere with the simplicity of a peach wedge soaked in red wine. Just try it. No rum, no berries cluttering things up. Just tart fruit and inexpensive table wine. It’s the only way I was allowed to consume wine as a child, and it never occurred that I might want it in any other context. The Fourth of July version requires a plastic Dixie cup for full effect. You can do this at Christmas, too, if you don’t mind out-of-season fruit. Just fancy it up with a proper wine goblet.

It’s almost silly how simple this is. And in a way, it’s a perfect note on which to start this little blog. I think I’ll come to find that most of the traditions, recipes, projects, stories, or whatevers that I share with you will be simple. Because it’s usually the culmination of little things weaved together that create a culture. It’s reassuring, but also a little scary. It’s so easy to remember something like wine and peaches and keep doing it. Maybe you’ll have kids, they’ll see you whip it together, and they’ll do the same one day. Boom. It keeps going.

But these things are just as easy to forget, and no one would probably notice. They’re just small enough to slip through the cracks. And it’s true: On their own, they’re not important. Who cares about fruit and wine? We need these little things, though. Our fathers’ micro recipes, our grandparents’ card games, our mothers’ special way of making a bed. Glued together, they make a family, a culture, a way of life that can only exist in our homes. Sometimes the traditions take more work. God help me as I try to teach myself sewing, or attempt to jar bushels of tomatoes in late August. But we have to remember the silly little things too. Let’s start passing things on in baby steps. Maybe we’ll be surprised at how much we can accomplish.

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7 Responses to “Let’s Start Small”

  1. Celia says:

    Mmmmm! Peach wedges in wine sounds like a perfect summer treat.

  2. Joe says:

    That sounds so good! Do you use any other fruits, or just peaches?

  3. Maria says:

    Good question! I've used watermelon, which is lovely since it's so absorbent. Berries and grapes are great too. Whatever you want, really!

  4. Michelle says:

    Love your blog! This is such a great idea. Can't wait to keep reading. I'll have to try wine and peaches this weekend.

  5. Carl says:

    How about Sicilian ice cream?

  6. Carl says:

    I used to eat this when I was a gluttonous Roman Scribe in a previous life:

    Recipe : Globuli
    Curd cheese, 500 g or about 1lb
    A cup of semolina
    olive oil

    Press curd cheese through sieve or let it hang in cheese cloth until it's drained well. Mix with the semolina into a loose dough. Let it sit for a few hours.

    With wet hands form the mixture into dumplings. Quickly fry them in olive oil for a few minutes. Drain and roll in honey.

  7. Maria says:

    Wow, Carl, that sounds amazing. Cheese, honey, semolina, olive oil. How could that *not* be heaven?


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