The Food of Friendship

Sunday night we had an impromptu dinner with Steve, Asa, and Zac—fellow “Denters” on a mission and heading to an event on Monday in the Keys. It was a complete surprise. They texted Mark and I to let us know they were at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, and luckily we had some edamame, ribeyes and salads on hand, so we invited them all over!

Steve, whose passion for wine is about as big as his zest for life, brought a bottle each of Stags Leap Artemis and Chateau Ste. Michelle—both Cabernet—that were perfectly paired with the steaks. He imparted some great wisdom upon us along with his wine expertise, which provided the perfect segue to an evening of sharing stories, great conversation and connection.

I love having a topic of conversation to get past the small talk and into the kind of stuff that gets you thinking, and (along with the wine) Steve brought one to the table: the Pareto efficiency.

Pareto efficiency says that an allocation is efficient if an action makes some individual better off and no individual worse off. Here’s a simple explanation of how this works from the publication Jargon Alert:

Suppose there is a bottle of really nice Pinot Noir and three people. The most equitable solution would be to divide it in three equal parts. However, if one person doesn’t drink (because it gives them a headache) and it was cut in half and shared amongst two people, it would be seen as Pareto efficient because the third person doesn’t lose out—even though he doesn’t share in the bottle. Pareto efficiency is achieved because the third person receives more value in feeling well than the value he places on the wine.

This concept gets tricky, however, when you try to apply it to an equitable distribution of time… and how we choose to spend it.

We may think we are better off when we are spending our time on work obligations and ambitions and family commitments, but if we’re not careful our friendships can get overlooked. We leave them for last, giving them whatever bits are left over after we’ve attended to our busy schedules and squeezing so much into a day. (I’ve even said if I were a superhero, my choice of superpower would be to never need to sleep… )

Your calendar may say that it’s a high priority, productive day when you really need a break to reconnect with a good friend, or cook a good meal—both to nourish yourself.

According to Harvard Health, good relationships keep us happier and healthier:

Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.

Maintaining friendships takes time and effort. If the food of friendship is time together, how do we make the time to ensure we’re all fed?

We can improve the quality of our lives by just making time for good friendships and connections on a deeper level. This could be consistent, regularly scheduled time on your calendar, or as simple as saying yes to a spontaneous dinner using whatever is in the kitchen. It just has to be a priority.

There is a quote from Sideways, a movie about connection—and wine, that is a beautiful metaphor for relationships, being deliberate, and doing things with love.

It’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. And, in fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.

Steve, Asa, and Zac drove an extra 30 minutes north to come have dinner—unplanned—then another 2 hours to the Keys. We all made time for each other, and I totally enjoyed the company and feel more full as a result.

So, as I raise my glass I’d like to make a toast: To good health… And friendship. 🍷🍷