A few weeks ago I was able to attend a panel discussion on feminism in New York City. It was hosted by one of my favorite stores, Fishs Eddy, and by the organization Feminist Camp. The guest of honor was a Very Important Person - Ms. Gloria Steinem.
Over the years, I've had the honor of cooking numerous events in Gloria's home, as well as organizing food for special events for The Ms. Foundation for Women which was co-founded by Gloria in 1973. Of course, I jumped at the chance to attend the panel, to give my undivided attention to the discussion and to Gloria, and to enjoy someone else's catering services. (Thanks, Trader Joe's!)
It was an evening celebrating women of all ages and races, with a focus on the young generation of feminists in conversation with one of our historical feminist pioneers. I wrote about being an Unlikely Activist earlier this year, and I still feel like I'm late to the feminism game and have so much to learn. I whipped out my phone and quickly started typing notes.
I've listened to many speeches, read articles, and books full of Ms. Steinem's words. I'm so lucky to have even the smallest personal connection to this important woman. That evening was full of so much wisdom; gold pieces of her knowledge and experience. I'd like to share the 'wealth' of Gloria here with you.
- Equal rights for women should be simple. We're not MORE important than someone else, but we're not any LESS important.
- We learn feminism from children. They've given us some of our best lines. "You're not the boss of me." "It's not fair." Women are saying those exact same things.
- We don't need to label our good behavior. It's more important to BE good.
- Equity requires action. Equality is not just believing that all are equal. We must work to make this a reality.
- We're striving for Radical Empathy. We're building a bridge to get to mutual understanding. But we can't always get there. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and say fuck you. And at the same time, sometimes it's more powerful to listen than to speak.
When asked about finding courage and bravery...
- Fear + Anger = Courage/Bravery
- If you accommodate your own problems, you'll advance. It's realizing your own power and then using it.
What's your dream for us?...
I want you to dream for yourselves. But my greatest hope for women is safety and bodily integrity.
Feminism in media vs. in person...
All forms of communication have advantages. Pressing send isn't really doing anything. It's a small thing. We get out information, but engaging with the five senses exposes us to oxytocin, which is incredibly important to make real change. It feels good. It creates more good. We need more in-person gatherings to get to the good. We feel supported. We feel empathy.
When asked about taking action:
- Stop thinking about what you SHOULD do, just do everything you can.
- There's one thing worse than thinking 'oh now I have to do such and such...' It's not doing it. If you're even thinking about it, then just do it. Because then you're going to live with regret and wonder what if you actually did it?
- The end you get is the result of the means you choose.
- We owe each other the truth. The greatest honor we can pay each other is to say what we're thinking and to say it in a way that if we were in the other person's shoes, that they would HEAR it.
- Everyone is tied up in having the 'hard conversations.' I want to have the fantastic conversations. Speak for the joy of things. In addition to the hard part, we must say the glorious part, the beautiful part. We must tell the truth. The hard stuff AND the joyful stuff.
- Give space in a conversation to let others feel capable. Don't immediately spit the venom.
- Put yourself in situations where you're unfamiliar, you're most likely to learn something.
Gold pieces, right? Here's what I love about the quotes from Ms. Steinem that I shared: they are universal. Her points were made specifically about women and feminism, but they can be applied to absolutely everything.
Do me a favor. Think of something you're standing up for in your life right now. Something that is very important to you. Politics, religion, race, the environment, the arts, getting aid to the hurricane victims, advocating for your health or the health of your loved ones... your own personal 'cause.' Maybe it's your children's education, asking your boss for a raise, maybe you're in couple's therapy working on your marriage, or dealing with renter's rights - whatever is personal to you.
Now go to the top of the blog and read Gloria's Gold Pieces again, but think of your thing, your Very Important Issue. What actions are you taking, if any? How do you want to be heard? Are you listening? Are you being brave and courageous? Are you engaging effectively on line and in person? Are you speaking your truth in a way you would like to be spoken to? Are you learning?
My favorite part she shared and the one I identified with the most is this one. "Speak for the joy of things. In addition to the hard part, we must say the glorious part, the beautiful part."
In whatever you're striving for, and no matter how hard it might seem, find the joy. The glory. The beauty. And talk about it (or blog about it!). Spread it. Make it multiply with your thoughts and words. I'm rooting for you and wishing you all good things - that's my Very Important Issue for today.
The recipe I'm sharing will hopefully be the "gold piece" of a dinner party I'm cooking this week for another Very Important Person, Mr. Steve Martin! His chef Andy is away and I'm helping out. I've made this recipe for many of my clients in the past two weeks, as these petite golden squash have appeared at the farmers market, welcoming the change of season. I'm excited to share it with the Martins and their guests - and with you.
Everyone's a VIP when it comes to food. ("We're not MORE important than someone else, but we're not any LESS important.") We can't all be a Gloria Steinem or a Steve Martin, but then again, they are not a you or a me! We can all enjoy this recipe as we work for the Very Important Things in our lives.
Hassellback Honey Nut Squash with Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Gremolata
- 4 honey nut squash or 3 large butternut squash
- 4 teaspoons maple syrup
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin.
- Then, place one of the squash halves on a cutting board and place the handle of a wooden spoon (or other wooden utensils like chopsticks) on either side of the squash. These will act as guards and will prevent your blade from going all the way through as you slice the squash. Try and find two handles that have the exact same thickness, or at least very similar heights.
- (There are 2 schools of thought, cook the squash first so it can more easliy be hasselbacked or make the slits while it is raw and then roast. I prefer the latter so the squash keep their integrity, but you might find softening them up in the oven first will aid you in making the slits...) BE CAREFUL and mind your fingers, whatever you do!
- With a sharp knife, carefully cut very thin slits in the squash, starting at the narrow end; even though you have the wooden utensils there acting as guards, always be mindful not to go all the way through. Once you've 'hassellbacked' all the squash, place them flat side down on a large sheet pan that has been coated in nonstick spray. drizzle the squash with maple syrup and generously season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine cranberries, pumpkin seeds, garlic and lemon zest. Pulse until they are combined and coarsely chopped to make the gremolata. Take the squash out of the oven. the slits will have opened up a bit so you can fill them with the gremolata mixture. Roast for another 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. The honey nut squash halves make 8 perfect individual servings. If using butternut, after presenting your masterpiece as whole squash, you can cut them up into individual servings.