Allison Arevalo's Story 

          "Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let’s Eat Together," by Allison Arevalo is not only an ode to pasta, but a story of how pasta dinners save lives. On the Amazon link that prefaces the book, it reads, “Pasta Friday is a weekly pasta tradition that turns neighbors into friends, and friends into family.” She invites her friends and family where adults and children eat together/enjoy not only the food but the company of one another. Each Friday would typically bring together four families and their children for pasta dinners. She would make one batch of pasta for kids and another for adults.

          After she had been hosting these pasta dinners for a couple months, her sister’s cancer had relapsed. Wondering how depression did not overwhelm her, she read my mind and addressed how she pushed through. Instead of pressing the pause button on Pasta Friday, she used this event to relieve her sadness and expressed how being embraced by laughter and joy was the way to keep her motivated. Pasta Friday is all about community and family. To further create this sense of family, but with word of mouth, Pasta Friday became more and more popular and too many families wanted to attend. To avoid overwhelming herself, she asked her attendees to join an email chain for “regulars," and she would limit and announce the number of guests and the dishes being served so that the task would be manageable. She would also ask some attendees to bring a bottle of wine that pairs well with what she had planned to make that week. Eventually, Pasta Friday in Oakland had to come to an end, because she moved to New York to open a restaurant. 

My Experience:

          I had a deep connection with Allison Arevalo’s story. Even though it was not exactly like Arevalo's pasta dinner extravaganzas, I could certainly relate to the way she felt towards Pasta Friday's. Coming from an Asian American family based in Honolulu, Hawaii, family holds a special place in my heart. When she talked about the heart-warming feeling she gets when surrounded by laughter and joy, I felt like I was at home. I was reminded of the feelings that I feel at our annual Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners when all my cousins come home from the mainland. I was reminded that I’m one of those cousins now and how much family means to me since I am not surrounded by them all the time anymore. Arevalo’s process of assigning the different families different aspects of the dinner reminded me of how my aunties make a group chat every December and assign the four families the meal they are responsible for.  My uncle is always responsible for cutting the sashimi and smoked meat. Aunty Emily is always in charge of making her famous chowder (clam, crab, or corn), and my family always makes our homemade Kamaboko dip and Wontons (both kamaboko and beef). In 2015, after my mother had passed from cancer, the annual family parties grew more important. I learned to hold family tighter than ever, and I felt that the way Arevalo described the connection she had with Pasta Friday is very similar to my connection with family events. Arevalo and I share something in common, and that is the fact that family is at the forefront of our priorities, and nothing could ever break that bond. Family dinners had brought us back to life. 

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