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My virtual dinner party: Shiza Shahid

On the menu

"People are overwhelmed right now, and I wouldn’t want to put complicated recipes on their plates. I would choose nourishing, comforting dishes that can be easily made with pantry essentials: a dal, pasta, or bean soup. Share recipes with your guests beforehand."

What we’re drinking

"I love tea and would probably have at least four varieties: sencha, oolong, and tisanes with ginger and turmeric. And maybe some kombucha as well."

The decor

It’s important to set the scene so that people can feel near, even at a distance. Keep the camera close to you with good lighting and minimal background noise. Make sure you are in a place where you feel good; have a clean area around you and maybe some candles. Feel free to stay in your athleisure, as long as you feel good in it."

The guest list

"Although I would love to invite my family, we are on three different continents. So instead, I’d invite friends in the same time zone. I would keep it intimate, perhaps just two other couples so we can have deeper conversations."

What we’re talking about

"I love having dinner prompts that get people to share personal stories. Some of my favorites to ask people about are an experience that shaped them, or something they loved to do in childhood that they want to get back to.

At this moment, people are scared and the pandemic is top of mind. I wouldn't avoid talking about it as long as the conversation is cathartic. This is a difficult time and we should be willing to stray from the light-hearted conversations at these gatherings, because sharing our burdens can help to lighten them."