It is one of my personal ambitions to throw the perfect dinner party. I would invite my closest friends, plus those who could become close friends. The food would not be fancy; instead it would be constructed with simple but flavorful ingredients: tomatoes, cheese, pesto with pine nuts and basil, and dark chocolate. Wine would be abundant, as would conversation. Some of my favorite memories are of meals with those whom I love, and for once, I would like to be the one who makes the meal possible.
Meals are celebrations of the world around us. Foods are often associated with the changing of the seasons. In my native Michigan, berry desserts are for summer and hot apple cider and doughnuts are for autumn. Food not only reflects an area’s produce but its culture. When I visited New Orleans last fall, the food spoke of the city’s history, revealing its French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. In the beignets of Café du Monde, the elaborate brunches at Brennan’s, and the spicy seafood dishes, I was able to learn about the culture and share in the meals that the residents of New Orleans have enjoyed over the years.
Meals are also a celebration of life and of relationships. A wedding feast. A couple on their first date, sharing a meal. A family gathered around a holiday meal. Preadolescent girls eating brownies while playing truth or dare at a sleepover. A church congregation celebrating the sacrament of communion. Even a business lunch can indicate trust –real or counterfeit- and hopes for prosperity. Meals can also be an illustration of misplaced trust. A poisoned meal. A drink laced with the date rape drug at a college party.
Food and drink have always been celebrated in the arts from da Vinci’s The Last Supper to Snow White’s poisoned apple to Proust’s madeleine. And so, we at Halfway Down the Stairs, invite you to join us around the table as we bring you stories and poems of love, loss, betrayal, and murder. We would like to welcome Sherri Miller to the HDtS staff as our newest fiction editor. Sherri, a fiction writer and former editor of the United Italian Society’s La Voce II, lives in Florida. Also, with this issue, we say goodbye to Vicki Northern, poetry editor since September 2005 and one of the founders of HDtS. We are sad to see Vicki go, but are grateful for all of the work she has put into this publication and wish her the best of luck. We would also like to say thank you to the writers of HDtS and to our readers.
— Stacy Wennstrom, Senior Nonfiction Editor
© 2008, Stacy Wennstrom