Monday, April 4, 2011

CHAPTER 2: Soups and a Story about Sitting Comfortably

There are just a couple of things that make for a good dinner party: the conviviality of the guests, the food, of course, and a pleasant, comfortable ambiance. I am pretty attuned to the first two factors but the third one does not come naturally to me. I often unconsciously choose appearance over comfort. And this leads me to talk about dining room chairs.

I have a friend who has strong opinions about dining room chairs. To his mind, they are a conspiracy to keep chiropractors in business and to shorten dinner table conversations which he would very much like to prolong. At my house, he is able to sit through the main course and perhaps a salad course, but at his limit, he bounds to his feet saying “These are the worst dining room chairs in the world. You need some chairs like mine.” We move to the living room for dessert and at last he can find some comfort for his modestly padded behind.

So, you might ask, what are these remarkable chairs he wants everyone to buy? They are vintage Hermann Miller office chairs, a version of which you might be sitting on right now in front of your computer. They are good-sized, with arms and rolling casters, upholstered in durable fabric in a variety of colors, many of which he has. He bought them used maybe eight years ago from a discount office supply place in Emeryville. His six surround a table which could seat ten or more people.

There are a couple of disadvantages for the typical dining room. These chairs take up a lot of room. You need to have a large table and an even larger room to incorporate chairs this big. On carpet, they don’t roll particularly well. And on hardwood floor, they can leave roller indentations. In my opinion, they are not destined to show up in a House Beautiful photo spread for the latest in dining room fashion.

But he’s absolutely correct: they are the most comfortable dining room chairs you could ever want. You and your dinner guests can linger over the food and a good conversation as long as you or they desire, comfortable and padded in every regard.

I’m probably not going to trade in my chairs for his rolling variety. But I have been led to consider other possibilities better suited to comfort and perhaps stylish and pretty at the same time.

Which leads me to the topic of soups. I think that soup is a comfort food to a lot of people. So even if you aren't sitting on the most comfortable chair in the world, you'll feel pretty darn comfortable if you have a nice bowl of soup in front of you on the table, a slice of crusty bread, and a good glass of wine. The following eight soups are among my favorites.

No comments:

Post a Comment