The table is where we find our way. Together.
The communal family table bears witness to our lives. The way we approach each meal speaks volumes about who we are and what we are going through in that very moment. It’s where the spirits of those who left too soon can be conjured back to mind through taste and smell. Still, we underestimate its pull and often miss the soulful nourishment and magic that happens at sobremesa—the time spent talking after a meal—due to our increasingly busy lives.
In her coming-of-age adventure, Caminos Oría travels to her family’s homeland of Argentina in search of belonging—to family, to country, to a love, and ultimately, to oneself. Steeped in the lure of Latin culture, she pieces together her mom and abuela’s pasts, along with the nourishing dishes—delectably and spiritually—that formed their kitchen arsenal. But Caminos Oría’s travels from las pampas to the prairie aren’t easy or conventional. She grapples with mystical encounters with the spirit world that lead her to discover a part of herself that, like sobremesa, had been lost in translation.
Just as she’s ready to give up on love all together, Caminos Oría’s own heart surprises her by surrendering to a forbidden, transcontinental tryst with the Argentine man of her dreams. To stay together, she must make a difficult choice: return to the safe life she knows in the States or follow her heart and set a new table, one where she can be her full self, unapologetically, in full-fledged Spanglish.
Deliciously soulful and chock full of romance, this otherworldly, multigenerational story of a daughter’s love and familial culinary legacy serves up, in 13 courses, a gastronomic meditation on the tables we set for ourselves throughout our lives—knowingly or not. It’s a story that lures us to slow down, to savor meals mindfully and see where the communion of food takes us, beyond the plate. It’s there we find our one true voice, look within, and face the questions we’ve been running from: Is this the table I envisioned for myself before the world told me who I am supposed to be? If not, reset it. Do I belong? Do the people around me lift me up? If not, change tables. Where am I seated? At the head? In the middle? There is no right or wrong answer, but does my chosen seat position me for the role I’m meant to fulfill in this lifetime? If not, change places.
Sobremesa invites us to savor the healing embrace of time-honored food and the wisdom it espouses. It’s a reminder that that home really is anywhere the heart is. And for all looking to find their place, it’s an invitation to claim your seat at sobremesa’s endless table, where everyone is welcome.
Foreword by Sofía Pescarmona, CEO and Owner, Lagarde Winery.
“Sobremesa takes us inside Josephine’s kitchen where we get the chance to explore her unique culinary journey and her beloved Argentina. Josephine’s story tells us about a side of Argentine cuisine and eating culture that isn’t usually written about: the importance that family, friendship, delicious food, and vino have at the table. A delight to read that will warm your corazón.”—Allie Lazar, Argentina-Based Freelance Eater and Writer, Creator of Pick Up the Fork Food Blog
“As a young girl, I enjoyed Josephine. But even more, I have loved meeting Josefina. I found myself transported to extraordinary middle places: Argentina and the United States, the ghostly limbos between life and death, youth and adulthood. Sobremesa reads like a cross between magical realism and the food section of the New York Times. Delicioso!”—Beth Ostrosky-Stern, Pittsburgh Native and New York Times Bestselling Author
“At once a magical matrilineage, recipe book, and love letter to Argentinian culture, Josephine’s Sombremesa is not only a moving culinary memoir, but a timely cultural portrait and call to return to a slower, more sensual relationship with our loved ones and ourselves.”—Allie Rowbottom, author of Jell-O Girls
“Josephine didn’t just find a love for Argentina, reconnecting with her family’s past and heirloom recipes. She’s uncovered a sisterhood in sobremesa, and wants to extend it to those who still don’t know about it or who don’t yet know they just might need it most. Because it’s there, in the intimacy of our own kitchens that we join forces, connecting in the place that, for so many people and families, is a meeting point, a place where culture lives on and transforms itself.”—Sofía Pescarmona, Entrepreneur and Viticulturist, CEO and Owner, Lagarde Winery and Fogón Restaurant in Mendoza Argentina
I wrote Sobremesa for three reasons.
First, if I’ve learned anything about love, it’s that you can’t give up on it. It will find you, on its own terms. Second, because I believe there are signs everywhere. We just have to stay open to receiving them, and trust ourselves enough to know their meaning. The final reason is that even though this is my story, I hope some part of it is yours too—maybe you have your own abuela Dorita whose spirit comes alive in these pages, or, like me, you are bicultural, Argentine, possibly even from the ‘Burgh; perhaps you’re in the midst of taking a chance on a second act (whether it be in love or professionally), or quite possibly you’re simply looking to take your seat at sobremesa’s endless table, where there’s always room for one more. Because, as they say in Argentina, donde comen dos, comen tres.
From my kitchen to yours, ¡Buen Provecho!
Born in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Josephine Caminos Oría was raised Stateside from infancy on in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gathering around a table large enough to sit her family of eight, plus two for her abuelos on her mom’s side, food and the sobremesa that accompanied it, was how Josephine learned to make sense of the world. Stories of where she came from, and the people she’d left behind, were served to Josephine during family sobremesas she savored like meals. Those tales nourished Josephine’s imagination and sense of self, setting the table for Josephine’s second act—a family and professional life focused around Argentine food and culture. It was in her early 40s, with five young children in tow, that Josephine took a chance on herself, leaving a C-level career to make dulce de leche. Today, Josephine, along with her Argentine husband, Gastón, is the founder of La Dorita Cooks, an all-natural line of dulce de leche products and Pittsburgh’s first resource-based kitchen incubator for start-up and early stage food makers (see www.ladorita.net for more information). In addition, Josephine is the author of the cookbook as food-memoir, “Dulce de Leche: Recipes, Stories, and Sweet Traditions” (Burgess Lea Press, February 2017).