If a piece of furniture could have a passport, ours would be a frequent flyer. Our table has moved with us to five countries and weathered numerous house moves. If it were a child, it might need therapy. Ironically, it’s provided my family with all sorts of necessary therapy to ease our globetrotting life. It’s given us a gathering point and safe haven, rooting us and strengthening our family traditions, while connecting us to new friends and our adopted cultures. When I am asked where I feel is my home, I say it’s wherever my kitchen table is.
We purchased our farm-style table more than 20 years ago in Ain, France, near the western border of Switzerland, where we lived at the time. It was the first piece of furniture my husband and I purchased together, and quite possibly the best. Rustic and massively constructed from reclaimed oak, it reflected the charm and character of our 18th-century Swiss farmhouse while providing a sturdy nucleus for a family and social life that revolved around food, friends and entertaining. It was warm and intimate enough for two and expansive enough to seat 12. It was a place for morning coffee, girlfriend chats, home office needs and lively dinner parties. When our children entered the picture, it provided a sturdy and forgiving canvas for homework, crafts and tea parties—nicks, scrapes and spills welcome.
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Today our table resides in California, where it continues to be the center of our family and social life. The last move we made was local, an invisible blip on the world map. But even then, we did not stray from our usual moving-in ritual, a tradition born from practice: The kitchen table was the first piece of furniture put in place. Then, amidst the unpacking and the boxes, I prepared a simple and comforting roast chicken dinner—a nourishing, timeless and reassuring meal that we shared at our table.
There is nothing more comforting than the aroma of a chicken roasting. Cooking a whole bird is quite simple, and can be done in an oven or on a grill. For a complete and nearly effortless meal, arrange the chicken on top of chopped root vegetables in the pan, and let the bird baste the veggies with its juices. While your dinner roasts, you can go about any other tasks at hand, such as unpacking a new house.