One thing I realized after enjoying Boston's salty oysters and college-town burgers and fancy tapas and decadent desserts is that while I may not remember exactly what was on my first Bartley's burger in Cambridge or which wine we ordered at Tasca while waiting for our languorous server, I will most assuredly remember the meals and conversations I shared in the homes of my two groups of Boston friends -- Jon and Amy, and Emily.
Here are highlights of the immensely classy, warming hospitality of those homes:
I was welcomed into Jon's Boston flat with fresh guacamole, above, homemade ginger-infused martinis the next night, and a mound of to-die-for chewy chocolate chip cookies, shown below. It was hard to stay away from it all, not only because it was a welcome relief from peanuts and plane snack crackers, but because it was such a simple yet powerful gesture of welcome. And I gobbled that welcome up -- even after we ran out of chips and had to dip Wheat Thins in the guac.
It really was a sweet lesson -- the way that this recently-engaged couple welcomed me into the apartment with homemade goodies, encouraged me to help myself, eat what I wanted, and even made me a homemade Americano. Every morning. (Amy is a former Starbucks barista.) What a blessing to learn more about how to welcome and serve visiting guests, spending time and infusing love into little treats that go a long way.
They shared their lives with me, taking me to the grocery store with them (the cute-sounding Stop 'N Shop is much less adorable and quaint than it sounds though still fun -- SoCal-ers, think Ralphs or Albertsons) and the neighborhood Starbucks (with a daily trivia question for a free drink -- go Jon!)
And then...Casa de Emily
Emily is a dear college friend who took her smart brain and big heart to law classes at this school in Cambridge -- Harvard something or other. :D We braved the cold and went running by the river (one morning in the falling snow, even!), made hearty soup from scratch during a particularly bleary day, and ate homemade flourless chocolate cake while watching "St. Elmo's Fire," arguably one of the more depressing movies from the '80s.
While she demolished all her pile of law-school emails each day, I drank lots and lots of tea and shuffled around her rambling house in my slippers. We relaxed and hung out and chewed the fat together, talking about life and struggles and relationships and faith.
Staying with these friends was, without a doubt, the best part of the trip. I could have done none of the things we did and just sat on a couch somewhere in Boston with them for a week and been exactly as happy...
Thanks, you three.
What are ways you like to welcome guests? What are things you offer to make them feel at home? Leave us a comment below.