La Bonne Franquette
It was 6:00pm on a lovely summer evening. I received a phone call from my new friend Lise that she and her husband Eric would love to stop by. Always up for any opportunity to gather people around my table, without a second thought, I answered an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Next, I called my neighbors Lotte and Jerry and invited them to join us too! When I got off the phone my husband David said, “What are you going to feed everybody?”
Oh my. I had just invited two French-trained chefs, both of whom had worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, and currently ran a very popular French bistro to come to my house for the evening. What could I serve? I opened the refrigerator to find a bag of lettuce, a hand-full of figs from David’s tree, one avocado, a block of Parmesan, a container of dried apricots, some nuts, left-over croissants from breakfast, cold cheese pizza, an apricot tarte, my birthday cake, which had Finn’s five-year old fingerprints all over it. And the piece de resistance— a bar of dark chocolate! I was certainly not going to be the “Hostess with the Mostess.” And as luck would have it, the power went out half-way through the preparations. I pulled a quilt from the hall closet, arranged a collection of candles in odd shapes and rainbow colors. I took an ancient French bakers kneading wooden board, bought as a wall decoration, and proceeded to assemble a smorgasbord of nuts, dried fruit, sliced figs stuffed with blue cheese and drizzled with honey. I smeared Nutella on the toasted croissants (which my kids loved for dinner!) and turned the baguette into avocado toast. I whipped up one of my salads with cherries, Parmesan, fresh mint, basil, olive oil, vinegar and honey from the garden. I thinly sliced what remained of the apricot tart, topped it with vanilla gelato and parceled out the dark chocolate!
Eric walked into the kitchen to find me in my apron, flushed and a tad embarrassed. My first words were “I am so sorry!!” He greeted me cheek to cheek with a kiss, smiled, and presented from behind his back a bottle of wine and a paper sack full of homemade blueberry muffins. “No worries,” he said. “Welcome to La Bonne Franquette! These are my favorite evenings when we are spontaneous and just happy to be together. We open our cupboards, empty our refrigerators, pop open wine long overdue for a special occasion and the night becomes magic. We are grateful for the time together.”
I handed him a stack of paper napkins and we laughed together. Eric stepped on the terrace carrying the sheet pan pizza that I had tried my best to upgrade with olives and arugula. We both smiled at the group of new and old friends gathered around the candlelit table enjoying the buffet of “everything but my kitchen sink.” We laughed. We told stories. We toasted each other. We happily took turns passing around the sleeping baby. It was a perfect evening!
There was no need for a three-star Beef Bourguignon or a starched-white tablecloth and embroidered napkins when we had a sky of stars, flickering candles, and genuine joy.
Jesus was a master of “La Bonne Franquette.” He knew how short our earthly stay is; how precious each moment is. Jesus asks us to be present, not perfect. Take what we have, the simple and ordinary, and use it for good. The secret recipe for living a life that shines with meaning and spills with joy is making ordinary moments sacred, even holy.
Remember what Jesus could do with a simple loaf, a few fish and carafe of wine. He transformed people and outcomes. We must follow His lead and show this hurting, broken world what joy can look like again. The silver lining of Covid is we realize how much we need fellowship and fun! Open up your cupboards, pull up more chairs to your tables, love well, who and what is right in front of you!
Tap on the Ribolita recipe below for an easy, nourishing meal that will serve many!