I recently had the opportunity to read Sobremesa: A memoir of food and love in thirteen courses by Josephine Caminos Oria. This indulgence was paired with a sample set from Bodega Norton including Privada Family Blend 2016 and Reserva Chardonnay 2019.
The book serves dual purposes. The robust memoir portion leads readers through Josephine’s personal journey including her childhood, coming of age, parenthood, and marriage. The book’s format seamlessly incorporates a selection of recipes which mirror the texture of the storytelling with a charming and humorous flair. For example, Milanesas (beef milanese) will serve seven people, “maybe, if you hide them well enough.” The author has a knack for showing emotion in endearing ways that make the reader feel like they are a part of the scenes as they unfold, particularly in her descriptions of the cast of “characters” which are, of course, her real life connections.
I loved learning about the concept of sobremesa, which is the shared experience of enjoying a meal and conversation with loved ones. Though this story is indelibly focused on the author’s own heritage — she was raised in Pittsburg with an Argentine background and culture — the concept can be translated to any group of people that care for one another.
She assigns these exchanges credit for sorting out both loss and celebration, love and death, romance and secrets. “It’s equally a story about belonging,” says Josephine. “To oneself, to two countries, to the legions of ghosts and ancestors” that are remembered through the commonality of food.
“Making sense of the world,” via the sobremesa, the author says that she “pledged allegiance” to the ritual and readers will too. Though I wasn’t able to create a dish (my own life has taken a busy turn this month) I enjoyed reading the memoir at night before bed and earmarking the recipes that I’ll ask my husband to make soon.
I’ve got my eye on empanadas al cuchillo (knife cut beef handheld empanadas) which would be so incredible with Privada Family Blend 2016, which is comprised of old vine Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s estate vineyard in the appellation of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza. Tarta pascualina (spinach and egg Easter pie) will be lovely with Reserva Chardonnay 2019 comprised of grapes also from Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza.