Sitting down to write this week was a struggle. How do I write about something as trivial as food while our nation, and the Fargo-Moorhead community, are still reeling from the tragedy that befell George Floyd last week?

As I sat, staring at my blank computer screen, I started to think about the significance of food in our lives. Even during a national tragedy, we — all of us — still must eat every day, if only to sustain our bodies. Even if we have lost our appetite.

I sat, thinking of how rapidly things can change in our society. In just the course of three months, we’ve gone from enjoying a robust and peaceful economy, to sheltering in place to fight back a pandemic, to witnessing the murder of a man who, in his last moments on earth, cried out for his mama. Food is the very last topic on my mind right now.

I sat, thinking about the words of Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd at Sunday’s press conference, and the important conversations that must take place once the riots have ended but the grief continues. I wondered what those conversations might look like, who will be part of them and how they will be conducted. And then I thought, I hope there will be food.

For my entire professional life, I have been involved in the industry of hospitality, from my career on cruise ships, to owning our beautiful little restaurant in Moorhead, to writing about food every week. Hospitality, when done well, is an art that is practiced to make a guest feel welcome, cared for and comfortable.

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Food is a natural part of this practice. Since the beginning of time, humans have connected through food, and many cultures embrace the act of welcoming a newcomer with a feast as a display of peace and hospitality. The ritual of breaking bread together is practiced at weddings, funerals and myriad events as a way of showing the host’s appreciation for their guests.

We have seen food emerge as a major source of comfort during this pandemic. The evening meal has become a sacred ritual for many, a highly anticipated event that helps to break up the monotony of quarantine life and soothe our fears about the virus. That’s not an accident — that’s the power of food.

The conversations to come will be difficult, tense and painful. I have lived long enough to know that food alone will not move progress forward. But, when I picture these conversations in my mind, I think about how important it will be to make people feel welcome, cared for and comfortable, and I hope there will be food.

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.