The emotions an individual expresses over a plate of food has always fascinated me. In fact, if I am with someone who is ambivalent about what they are about to consume, I find myself a bit disappointed…even if I’ve had nothing to do with preparing the dish. Why do I care about what another feels about their food? It really doesn’t directly affect me! I don’t know, it’s just who I am… a professed foodaholic 🙂 who secretly hopes that everyone I’m with is as entranced with their daily meals as me.
The other night, we were invited to our dear friend’s (and outstanding chef’s) home for dinner along with our daughter, son-in-law and two young grandsons (8 and 5 years old). This evening had been talked about for over 6 years, and since our family was together on our annual beach vacation literally a few minutes from our friend’s home, a dinner date was finally established. Chef J and his lovely wife, E. discussed the food likes and dislikes of our family with me, and in particular of our grandsons. They are the epitome of graciousness as hosts. I reassured them that our boys enjoy all food, sharing that they are truly adventurous eaters. But in the back of my mind, I said a little prayer, willing that they would relish Chef J.’s food as much as I do. For me, dinners at their home have been some of the most thrilling and satisfying epicurean occasions of my life.
As we arrived, we were greeted with lots of joyousness, hugs and excitement at finally getting together. The kids were instantly enthralled with everything in J. and E.’s home and yard and engaged in delightful conversations. It’s always a bit of a relief when there is instant chemistry with those you care about and have brought together ….in my heart, I really wanted them to connect and like each other. Well that occurred immediately. First hurdle down and successful. Yay!
We were going to eat outside on their lovely patio. The starters were brought out and as usual, were perfectly portioned small bites..just enough to whet our appetites. The presentation is simple, elegant and enticing. Happily for me, there is almost always a special plate with J.’s tapenade, which he KNOWS is my favorite. (I could just get a spoon and eat mouthfuls of this umami laden emulsion). There are also two plates of fresh shrimp with dipping sauces, smoked salmon wrapped around hearts of palm with a dollop of herbed soft cheese, and a hard salami which our youngest almost jumped up an down with joy when he saw (he likes meat 🙂
I saw my daughter get a little anxious as the two plates of shrimp come out. Her youngest doesn’t like shrimp. He won’t eat shrimp. He is quite vocal about his lack of desire to EVER have shrimp. There have been a few small skirmishes with him over shrimp. His mom pushes it (I think to myself) and puts one on his plate. So, what does he do? Devours it and nonchalantly goes back for several more. As he devours crustacean after crustacean, we stand back observing, silently and secretly, proud of this revelatory moment. Another hurdle met.
Next, as the entrees are served, we start with a fresh, sweet and meaty Dungeness crab salad…kid’s plates are the same as adults. I wait, watch, and am again, a beaming proud grandma as our 8 year old gulps down his crab and attempts to get his brother’s plate who is slow to eat as he is full of salami and shrimp. Chef J. and E. are happy…as we are. Funny how the honest reactions of little ones can affect us so.
In the end, it was a glorious time…food and friendship…thank you J. and E.
Oh, and of course, we ended with a lovely, light cup of jasmine tea (Dammann Freres)…the perfect ending to a stunning meal.