The Long Table

Dec 23, 2008

Last week, Erin and I were the guests of Christopher and Tessa Perrien at the Hillsborough restaurant Panciuto for a community dinner featuring the star local farmer Eliza MacLean, who raises some of the best pork in this country. (At the BlogTogether food blogging event last year, we dined on one of MacLean’s Ossabaw hogs.)

Christopher and Tessa (she runs Blue Pane Studio) have teamed up with Troy Livingston at the NC Museum of Life and Science on the Science in the Triangle, which had some part of its genesis in my stumping for a Triangle Science Times home for all things science in this part of North Carolina. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the site once the ScienceOnline’09 conference is a wrap, and I’m hoping that the Science Communicators of North Carolina play a role, too.

At some point during the Panciuto dinner, sated by the delicious food and wine, I gazed down the long table set up in the middle of the restaurant. All the ingredients for a perfect evening were in place — good food, good conversation, good setting.

We were indoors on this rainy December night, but my delight was just as strong as on the stunning afternoon last May when we attended Joe Mosnier’s “host roast” (see him in this great picture by abbyladybug notice me at the bottom capturing Joe’s welcome speech on video). That dinner, too, had the three ingredients, including a long table (another abbyladybug image not to be missed).

A realization clicked at Panciuto: the long table/long meals/long conversations concept neatly combines my love of food and story and community. Naturally, as soon as I returned home I surfed to my registrar and bought a domain name, thelongtable.org.

I’m not sure what thelongtable.org will become, but over the last week I’ve had fun imagining all the ways that this project might weave together my BlogTogether activities, StoryBlogging dreams (with inspiration from StoryCorps and The Monti) and food blogging cravings. My friend Jack Ricchiuto hits the nail on the head with his post, The long version, and I’m definitely looking forward to Jack taking as long as he wants to tell his story when he joins us at thelongtable.org next Spring.

One more bit of context: Erin and I are actively looking for a larger house to become our home (a separate post to follow with more about this), and one criterion is that the house have a space conducive to dinner parties around a long table.

So that’s the banquet I’m setting for myself in 2009: more efforts to build online science in the Triangle and an inspired appetite for the long table.

Got ideas for thelongtable.org? Leave a comment, please — just click on Storian (the Bislama word meaning unhurried conversations).

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC