Kristina tells us about her love for hosting parties, why sheâ€™s so passionate about bringing back the art of entertaining and the reasons why cooking and writing make her happy.
Kristina Erfe Pines is the Editor-In-Chief and Founder of Spoonful Magazine, an independent quarterly food publication that celebrates home cooks, local artisans and the art of entertaining. In addition, Kristina is a mother who loves hosting food parties and a karaoke enthusiast (Her favorite song to perform is Hopelessly Devoted to You by Olivia Newton John.)
What makes Kristina happy? Very simply put: Cooking and writing. She loves feeding others and the reverence that comes over the table when they are tasting what sheâ€™s made. She loves putting things down on paper and affecting others. So it comes as no surprise that when Spoonful Magazine came together, it merged the two things that made her most happy.
What brought Kristina to love cooking so much? She was born in Saudi Arabia to Filipino parents who were overseas contract workers. At the time, there was a growing community of other Filipinos as well as international people where they were living. Her parents took it upon themselves to throw communal potlucks where they made new friends. These friends would bring with them dishes they were homesick for, thus not only providing something to fill the table, but something that was special to them. It blossomed into helping making sure that all of their new friends were comfortable in a country so strict as Saudi Arabia.
Food became a way to unify and build community. This remains true for Kristina until this day. She moved from Chicago to Philadelphia, a city she feels people leave and come back to, where they have lots of family and donâ€™t have a need to make friends. She used dinner parties after moving here to meet her neighbors, make friends and pretty much make her home the center of activity in the neighborhood. This is incredibly important to her.
In fact, whenever a long period of time has gone by that Kristina has not entertained others, she feels a buildup of tension that needs to be released. This is when she starts inviting people over and coordinating a weekend that works to make a meal for everyone. It doesnâ€™t really matter what the menu is as long as she gets to sit down to drink and eat with her guests. Between allowing herself to be relaxed, having whoever sheâ€™s invited help her add the finishing touches in the kitchen and sipping whiskey with those guests that linger after-hours, it becomes a natural environment for happiness.
Kristina believes her love for entertaining is 90% the social aspect of it all. Sureâ€”her magazine celebrates the art of home cooking. But itâ€™s also a reminder to embrace the art of entertaining. Even if you have people over for pizza, she says, have them over to your home. Afterall, she believes a house isnâ€™t really a home until you invite friends and family over to fill it. Food encourages this. Why? She believes it is what punctuates every major celebration or gathering.
Just like art or music, Kristina feels food is an immediate way to connect with others and nourish their soul. She feels writing also encourages this connectivity but in a different way. You can invite someone over to your home to eat and they can say no. But if they choose to pick up a few pages youâ€™ve written and read them, they are also choosing to actively connect with you.
She spent a lot of her time reading as a child and at some point realized that her favorite stories didnâ€™t come out of nothing. Someone created them. This encouraged her to write her own stories and share her own ideas, mostly surrounding food, with the world.
Now that Kristina does two things she loves for a living, her gratitude and love of cooking and writing has grown exponentially. Itâ€™s not always fun and games, of course.There are administrative duties and operational things she would rather not have to do in order to keep the magazine running, but it is a necessary part of the process. In exchange, she finally gets to get up everyday and fulfill her personal passion.
The fact that Kristina works with food day in and day out doesnâ€™t discourage her from coming home to make meals. In fact, she cooks because she, like many others enjoys it and believes in sharing the process with her children. Involving her children helps them understand the magic of food how food arrives and why people gather at the table. With this, she is helping them exercise a muscle that, she believes all people have, which is the â€œI can cook if I just try and satisfy others with my meal.â€
Kristina shared a very interesting statistic with us. We are currently living in a world that loves watching food channels and competitions yet our habits of cooking at home have died down. Independent food magazines, such as Spoonful, are attempting to bring back the art of cooking at home and entertaining. This is not to say that we shouldnâ€™t eat out – Kristina shares that going out to eat is a fundamental part of our society. She simply thinks there should be a balance between cooking and eating fast food.
She has enjoyed her fair share of eating out. In fact, when she first got to the United States, her relatives shared this was the American thing to do (Breakfast 24-7 at Dennyâ€™s, anyone?). Even now, she eats out with her family. Especially on Fridays when they order some type of Asian food or pizza. In general, however, her family celebrates cooking at home. Her 3-year old daughter helps her flip pancakes in the morning, they raise chickens in their backyard and even have a garden.
So what is it that Kristina enjoys eating the most? Very chefy approaches to food. Particularly the artistry, presentation and drama that comes with a tasting menu. Besides that, she enjoys simple, grilled cuisine, such as Italian, and seafood in general. Being Filipino and growing up in the Middle East, she also loves Filipino food but is not a knowledgeable Filipino cook. Itâ€™s also super sauce oriented which her kids arenâ€™t fond of. So, she leaves the special moments of enjoying Filipino food to her mother when she comes to visit.
What else makes Kristina happy? Her family, her bed, french fries, being at the beach with her family and memories of her childhood in Saudi Arabia. You can learn more about Kristina by visiting spoonfulmag.com, on Instagram or by picking up a copy of the magazine by visiting Whole Foods or Barnes & Noble.
Links / Read / See / Hear
Hopelessly Devoted to You by Olivia Newton John.
10 Tricks for Easy Entertaining, Martha Stewart
Why Do We Watch Food Television?, Leah Douglas, Serious Eats
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
RocÃo CastaÃ±eda for ongoing support; follow RocÃo on instagram.