Devouring the gumbo, John talked about how far I'd come since moving to New York. He told me he was proud of me, but was curious how I'd gone from a business reporter to a senior editor at a food magazine. I thought about that for a minute. I told him my interest in food was inspired by a lot of things: the fact that my father was such a great home cook after having grown up working in his family's Italian-American catering company; the fact that while I was growing up in Cincinnati, my mother had taken me to the city's best restaurants, educating me on everything from haute French cuisine to English high tea. And after Hurricane Katrina, I mourned all that was lost in New Orleans by making countless jambalayas, red beans and rice, and shrimp remoulade dishes in my Brooklyn kitchen. But the main reason I wrote about food, the thing that made it both gratifying and, at times, therapeutic, was that it was an attempt to recapture moments just like the one John and Rose and I were having that night. Sitting at a table with people I love, sharing food, and talking about things—stories, memories, jokes and jibes—we've shared throughout our lives. After traveling the state and interviewing strangers all week, this dinner reminded me of what it felt like to be part of a family. I felt reassured. Tended to. Secure.