I had some friends over for dinner Saturday night - all women since Charles was out of town. I called this a Chick Fling. I brought out the muscle-man drink charms I bought a couple years ago for an occasion like this. I asked everyone to bring a food or drink to share, if they wanted, and one wish for spring or summer - anything from the universal good to the purely selfish, no judgments. These would be shared aloud, if we chose, or just put down on paper and put in a bowl.
As it turned out, everyone chose to share their wish aloud. I thought these might be simple statements, but what emerged was introspective and heartfelt. There were wishes for family health and safety, financial stability and a new home, good health for a sister, an ability at last to take care of oneself as that wisher did for her children and aging mother, and a strenghtening of ties with family out of the country and adopted family here. The last one was the simplest (in number of words at least): to act from love and not fear.
I’m a firm believer in the power of wishes - robust and uncensored. Unlike kids blowing out birthday candles, I like to say them aloud, to discover how words give them shape. And I roundly hate the maxim, “Be careful what you wish for,” as if a wish were something to fear, not embrace. (Maybe I’ll settle for “Be mindful;” wishes have power you can’t predict, so pick a good one.)
My wish, claro, was for this trip to Spain to be a good one – for me, launching myself across the ocean like a baby bird; for Charles, who will be home, minding the fort and exploring home life without me by his side; and for our son, El Nino, who will see his mother peek around the mom mask. Balance is a solid old habit for me: balanced meals, budgets - now even finding the right balance of greens and browns in our new compost bin! Time to shake it up.
Here’s a recipe for a dish I made Saturday, called Escalivada Catalana (roasted eggplant, pepper, onion and tomatoes, Catalan style). I found it in a cookbook called “Tapas, A Taste of Spain,” by Spanish chef José Andrés. Believe me when I say this isn’t just a recipe, it’s therapy for all your senses. Stand near the stove while the vegetables are roasting and let the sound of skins popping and juices oozing contribute to your conversation. Strip the veggies with your fingers as Andrés advises; don’t relinquish that pleasure to a knife. Take a bite somewhere between fresh from the oven and fully cool. Take another. Como se dice “died and gone to heaven”?