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December 12, 2012

In the Youngman household we do Thanksgiving with friends. Scads and scads of friends. We invite families, singles, couples, relatives of friends, vagabonds, hippies, people recently out of prison.. There really is no criteria except to be a good person. Some of my favorite memories in our house in the woods involve laying in a post-meal, bloated dogpile on the couch with my sweet friends Emma Cunningham and Britta Stifler, giggling and dozing.

There is something sacred and deeply fulfilling in sitting down to a meal with a group of people. I have found that the more time I spend with people eating food, the more comfortable I become with those people. The bonds strengthen: strangers into acquaintances into friends into family; strangers into teammates into team into family; strangers into crew mates into crew into family.

The attached picture is from a late-night fried food binge I shared with my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Student Conservation Association crew this summer. We had spent two days paddling in canoes down the Manistique and had just taken a impromptu swim in Lake Michigan (two Great Lakes for my crew!). The trip to the 24-hour diner at the Mackinac Bridge was spontaneous as well: we had originally planned on getting off the river and heading back to Munising. But this was much more fun; this is what summer nights are supposed to be like.

We all have stories like this: moments and memories involving food that transport us back to a time, a place, a state of mind, a feeling that resonates and reverberates with something deep within us. I am not a religious person but food and everything that orbits around it has gotten into my soul. And I believe in it. Visiting Marquette always entails eating a lot of food with a lot of friends. This weekend is no exception: my stomach and schedule were packed. And that’s the way I like it.

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