There is one rule in our house that has recently become all too tempting to break: No news during dinner. The goal, of course, is to actually enjoy the meal—the fresh corn from Balsam Farms, the wine from Channing Daughters, the beautiful salad from Sang Lee dressed with edible flowers from the Farm Beyond—and not allow ourselves to be made queasy by the noxious fumes of the 24-hour news cycle. It is often easier said than done.
A few weeks ago, my fiancé Chris and I invited a friend of ours over for dinner. He arrived with a bottle of home-brewed cider in his hands. Brewing is something our friend is passionate about, so we listened intently as he told us about where he found the apples, of how long he had let them ferment, and what he had done when—
Our friend stopped abruptly. Chris and I had forgotten to turn off the news in the background and it had suddenly grown louder, its headlines more egregious. Our friend set down his cider. “And Nero fiddled as Rome burned,” he said.
There is a certain anxiety to celebration when you sense that not everything around you is worth celebrating. You start to wonder, like our friend, if an effusive discussion of cider can be anything other than inconsequential and frivolous when there are real problems with which to contend. The stories in this issue—our most celebratory, being set in summer and centered on drinks—tell us the answer is yes.
Here, in these pages, the spirit of American innovation is alive and well as a family of fifth-generation farmers transforms spuds into spirits in Sagaponack. Present, too, is the hospitality for which America is rightfully renowned, as Sam Sifton—food editor of the New York Times—welcomes friends and strangers to his Greenport home for a barbecue. We see our country’s uncommon creativity in a master mixologist in Bridgehampton, and proof of the persistence of the American dream, as immigrants take flavors from their countries of origin and use them to build businesses from East Hampton to New Hyde Park.
None of the people featured in these stories—or involved in their telling—are just fiddling. They’re providing the music that makes our region worth celebrating in the first place.
So, please, turn off the news and pour yourself a glass of something lovely. Bring this magazine outside, so the sun can paint your face. And toast with us to summer—and the tunes that make it great.