meadows of flora and fern
tell me in whispers,
dew covered anecdotes
of what could and should be
a beauty not meant to survive away from the stems support
or roots strong sustenance
In Roman mythology Flora, the twin of Fauna, was the goddess of all blooming and flowering plants. Though a minor goddess, she was held in high esteem, with an entire festival dedicated to her. Floralia was held on April 27th during the Republican era, and was one of the few festivals that was open to the general public, instead of exclusively to the ruling classes.
Floralia lasted for six days, full of food, games, and celebration of new springtime growth. It was dedicated to a goddess that ruled all the things that slowly unfurl their petals to the sun, and stretch their leaves wide to the warm, gentle rains of Spring. The delicate beings that take root into the Earth, and embrace their gentleness, while retaining just enough of a bitter bite to remain protected.
No matter howling winds, or pelting rain, scorching sun or belligerent pests, the petite beings find a way to stay upright. To bloom again, and to rejoice in the pleasant days that follow grueling winters.
I think that as I have grown and developed into my food style as an individual, I’ve gravitated towards feminine and floral inspired plates for this reason. For so long I have attempted to harden my edges and sharpen into angles, in order to keep up with what are perceived industry standards. To become someone that is bold and unrelenting, an imposing figure, a character itself.
This past year has taught me that there is no value in that, for me. If anything, it gives me anxiety to imagine upholding that image. Food has always, always, been a way for me to find center again. To find the gravity that so often escapes me, and leaves me floating without direction or focus, desperately reaching for a hold. I am a nervous person, a worrier, a brain with too big ideas and even bigger anxiety that holds me back from going after what I want. Why would the pressure of building up a persona that is not truth make anything better?
With the many upheavals that happened from the middle to end of 2019, I have learned to lean into what I am. Emotional, soft, sentimental, and indulgent of histrionics at worst. There is a comfort in metaphors, and the balance of reality and whimsy. Rose colored glasses are not the worst thing in the world, sometimes they just allow you to look at the glare of life with a bit of protection. An allowance of time to process, observe, and grow.
Flora and Feast, the dinner, is about embracing all these things. The beauty and aid of flowers, both aesthetically and internally, along with the sometimes acerbic taste of those velvety petals. For many dinners I would literally rip the delicate petals from their stalks and unceremoniously throw them onto plates; wanting to blanket things in a beauty that I did not fully appreciate.
The stalks that uphold those blossoms are not always the sweetest, but they are strong. The bulbs and roots are far from beautiful, but they are the foundation of what is. This menu is about realizing that beauty is inherently rooted in that which is not – the humble beginnings, and the raggedness of being vulnerable. The acceptance of all sides to life and it’s beings.
The most valuable parts of me are the ones that have stemmed from those before me – Carol, Lilah, Nancy, Kyle, Gloria, Florence…the list goes. The tender parts that grew strong from remaining loving, even in pain. The parts that were bruised and cut, but healed with forgiveness, and strong hearts. These are things that I have inherited, and have found peace in.
I aim to make food that is delicate. With tender and soft flavors, and a backbone of strength and intensity. One that does not sit forward, and is not braggadocios. Food that is comforting, and playful. Maybe not the wildest, but is kind in nature. A plate of sustenance for mind, eye, and stomach.
It is a great privilege to have the opportunities to share this kind of personal journey and growth with my little corner of the world. Thank you all for letting me create something tangible to share, and then for telling me to keep going.
If you are interested in joining the table for dinner at Flora and Feast, please purchase tickets below: