Gezellig

adj. convivial atmosphere, shared contentment

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You may have heard about the Danish love of 'hygge'...

It's the idea of cosy companionship (often involving food, family and friends) that catapulted into our consciousness amid our appetite for all things Nordic-chic.

But when I first heard of this cultural phenomenon, I was slightly miffed. 'Hygge' isn't something peculiarly Danish (although they do it beautifully well). This hard to define, intangible bedrock of 'togetherness' was something I knew very well. . .just in a different guise. 

Because at the centre of my family is the idea of 'gezellig', the equally indefinable word that was handed down to us from my Dutch grandmother . From as early as I can remember, this was used to refer to anything convivial, pleasant, genial. It could be a comfortable room made enticing by Christmas candles, or a plate of tasty snacks to accompany a companionable drink before dinner.

I realise that this idea of 'gezellig' is what underpins all my food. Time spent in restaurant kitchens, styling food and catering has always had at its heart the yearning to perfect the art of gezellig. Delicious food brings people together. I'm happiest at a noisy table piled high with plates and platters, glasses and wine bottles.