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The O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook cookbook is a compilation of flavors and ideas, exotic places and inspiring traditions, technique, instinct, and, of course, sublime, delectable, delicious food! Broth is infused with mint and ginger, focaccia is studded with caramelized onion and rosemary, lamb chops are rubbed with ripe orange zest, salmon is brined with maple, tea is brewed with fresh lime and honey, pecans are dusted with cinnamon, ribs mingle with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil, asparagus is broiled with miso and ginger, a dollop of cilantro cream enlivens a rich cauliflower and apple soup, and cumin meets coconut. And then we invited some of our special friends, who are absolutely passionate about food, to share their favorite culinary memories.

On some pages you'll find that the silver is polished, the crystal is sparkling, the candles are lit, and the champagne is poured. On others, the picnic basket is packed, the iced tea is brewing in the summer sun, and the Frisbee is flying. But whether it's a formal sit-down in the dining room, a casual brunch on the patio, or leftovers in the kitchen, the food, however wonderful, is actually only a supporting player. The starring roles go to the people with whom you share this food.

Let's face it—thanks to the portable DVD player, we can now watch TV in our cars while chatting on our cell phones and receiving e-mails on our BlackBerrys. We can live with people but go days on end without ever making eye contact. We can meet friends at the latest hot spot and then shout to be heard over the scene at the bar. Somehow, dinner has become something we pop in the microwave and gulp down at the sink while signing off on homework and sorting through our mail.

I believe we can do a whole lot better than that, and I believe we all deserve better. More than anything else, these dishes are meant to inspire you to bring together your friends, your family. So here's to the people you love, excellent conversation, lots of laughs, the occasional glass of champagne for no particular reason, and meals you wish would last forever. Here's to life!

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