I’ve been watching Food Network for over 15 years now.
That’s a lot of food television.
And, now, at our new place we also get Cooking Channel. You know what that means? More food television with actual cooking shows.
(It’s like what VH1 was to MTV, back in the mid-2000s, with music videos.)
I’ve found a few new shows that I love, and I’ve also revisited old ones—and gotten re-hooked. I’m lookin’ at you, Barefoot Contessa.
Ina Garten has a serene, almost velvety soft—but not sultry—voice that could lull a colicky baby to sleep, and she lives in an ethereal setting on the New England coast. I dream of one day being asked to spend the weekend at Ina’s
estate cottage in the Hamptons, enjoying really good cheese and lots of laughter with her, Jeffect, and whatever obscurely famuous friends drop by.
Which got me thinking about Thanksgiving with Ina.
Could you imagine inviting her over for dinner? I mean, I can.
Of course your dining room is fine. But, that’s just it—it’s FINE. Not perfect. Not awesome. Fine. F.I.N.E.
I believe Ina would still smile with that twinkle in her eye even if she was seated at a line of tablecloth-covered (let’s be honest, sheet-covered) card tables, preparing to dig in to your Thanksgiving spread. In the back of her head though, she’d be thinking: Get me back to the Hamptons with Jeffrey and my cedar shake house, surrounded by hydrangea and a sweet ocean breeze.
And though you’d be thinking about those card-tables-turned-dining-room-set, and whether or not the guests care that you chose Chinette instead of fine china (because really, who has fine china these days that they actually use? I don’t even own it), Ina would be eyeing the fact that not everything is white. White linens, white plates, white flowers, white, White, WHITE! It all needs to be white so that the food is the star of the day! (I can’t say I disagree with that, actually.)
Yes, it’s November. And yes, there hasn’t been a bloom in my garden since sometime in early September (mostly because I’m terrible at watering). Ina, however, still manages to pull gorgeous hydrangea and roses from her Hampton garden year round, creating vases full of monochromatic (okay, white mostly) lush bouquets for her tablescapes that give goosebumps.
Or at least the magic of television makes it seem like her gardens are full of flowers year round…
No, I really do believe Ina’s are. If anyone can have a magical flowering garden year round in the Hamptons, it would be Ina Garten.
Just like fresh herbs. Any kind of herb you could want. Marjoram? Sure! Thai Basil? Naturally! Lemongrass? Yep!
Because, of course.
The reality is, I love to joke about Ina because I love her. I really do.
Alton Brown once called her an enigma because she’s never seen at Food Network studios, and yet EVERYONE knows of her, despite never meeting her in person.
I joke about how she says things like, “Next, pour in a tablespoon of vanilla—and make sure it’s really good vanilla.” But it’s quips like this that I find make Ina so warm and endearing.
She’s from the Hamptons, and she’s spent a lot of time in Paris. And yet, just like her cooking, she still seems genuine and sincere.
Like, she’d truly enjoy having you at her Thanksgiving table.
As long as you brought a really good bottle of white wine.