Saturday was a stay-at home day, just Kim and me---they’d eaten a lovely breakfast at their B&B, and the guys had gone off to a gun show and to the range for the afternoon. So we two just sat in the sitting room and in the arbor, each talking faster than the other, filling in, telling of, remembering and re-telling family histories. There were large extended families from several parts of Europe, all come lately to America, making their way into the new place, bringing their families and their ways and their cooking and their hope---Kim’s stories.
Mine were of the hard-scrabble living in the hot, fertile, unforgiving hills and Delta of Mississippi, of the close-knit, home-staying clan, with but two of the entire brood ever having moved from near the homeplace. We looked at the grayed faces of the black-and-white pictures we’d both gathered to show, naming the names and the relationships, seeing the who’s who of our ancestries. Her tales were of the White House dance cards of a flapper Grandmother, of the big Italian dinners, of the enormous platters of wonderful food spread in front of a loud, rollicking clan, with joking and laughing and fun, and mine were of plain old Southern meals, big Sunday dinners and fish fries and music on the porch after.
We went out into the breeze of the arbor with our iced tea, sat in the big comfy chairs, enjoyed more tellings and hearings and sharings. We came in, set the table for our lunch and set out the chicken salad and Paminna Cheese with crackers, stuffed filling into two-halves-each of the devilled eggs I’d meant for Friday. She grated a cloud of Parmesan over the top of the artichoke heart gratin and stuck it in the oven whilst I readied the rest of the lunch.
We sat down and grasped hands, my short and simple heart-prayer, “Lord, thank you for this food and this FRIEND.” We reached and ate, trying little samples of each dish, just leisurely spooning bits from bowls and plates, savoring the tastes and the time. We didn’t rise from lunch until almost three---a quiet, easy time of savors not-all-on-the-plate.
She peeled the asparagus whilst I prepped and steamed broccoli and grated cheese, then she made the quiche batter as I called out the ingredients and steamed the asparagus, readying all that for Sunday’s brunch. We were still talking, still enjoying, until it was time to dress for dinner. The guys came home, and having had an early Chick-fil-a for lunch, had a cold drink and a few nibbles before we went out. I set out some sticks of Cheddar, some tiny tart tomatoes and a bowl of delicate pink salt, a bowl of sesame sticks, and then we all went downtown to Fogo de Chao, which is an experience quite in and of itself.
We arrived in the major hustlebustle of the evening, with lines at the salad buffet not at all impeding the graceful ballet of the young-men-with-swords as they scampered their gaucho-pants through and around and beside. It’s quite a fun place---the salad bar itself a work of art, with all the platters white rectangles tilted just slightly against the back wall of the station, and as you walk around it, every tray is a beautiful composition, like a picture on a wall, with a frame of contrasting carved vegetables. There were roasted peppers and hearts of palm, slices of perfectly flavored dark beets in a frame of thin golden slices, chicken salad and apple salad and broccoli and the thinnest-sliced shiitake afloat like moonbeams in a delicate vinaigrette. The immense roasted asparagus were fat as trees, beautifully bright green, and still perfectly al dente in their marinade.
Deft hands set down small dishes of mashed potatoes, a doily-lined tray of crisp sticks of fried polenta, a boat-dish of whole peeled bananas, dipped into the fryer just long enough to soften through and turn a deeper gold. Another filigree basket held feather-light gougeres, hollow as popovers, and shattering into the most delicate cheese flavor to the bite.
There’s shouting and scurrying and hurried clearings and re-settings, but never in a hurry to rush you--I think we were there for two hours. And the young man who filled our glasses several times has done a bit of joshing with Chris the twice we’ve been there---he knows we’re from the South, and he greeted us with “Shucky Darn!!! I’m glad you’re back!!” What a fun time we had.
We shared crème brulee and chocolate mousse cake, then strolled out into the glorious evening, just round the corner, and were in the shussssssssh of the big fountain in The Circle, where white lights gild each tree and the Symphony Marquee, and the color-changing lights on the tall buildings made the setting into a Fairyland-after-dark. The sedate clop of the horses with their white carriages lent the tempo of another time, and viewing the statues and the huge visages of soldiers of all the nation’s wars gave quiet reflection amongst the sounds of soft voices and rushing waters.
And so Saturday---slow and reflective, loud and bustling, sharing and gathering in---a wonderful day with friends.