Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Born on the Fourth of July

Big birthday weekend around here. Stephen's was Monday, and we celebrated with a big barbeque in his front yard. BBQ pork ribs, brisket, and burnt ends provided by Jack Stack of Kansas City. It's becoming a tradition and for a week before the blessed event I begin seeing burnt ends everywhere: squirrels scampering up trees with burnt ends in their mouths, a burnt end on my keychain, etc.

Then Monday we drove up to Vermont for Christian's birthday. It was the best kind of arrival: late, hot, and tired, we walked in the front door and were bearhugged by Christian, who already had one Margarita in each hand for us. Sitting out on the counter were the several Mexican dishes he had made, a stack of steaming corn tortillas, and plates. Almost before we had set our bags down and said our hellos to the other guests, we had plates full of shredded chicken in tomatillo sauce, very spicy shrimp ceviche with avocados, zucchini and chorizo stew, and pinto beans with huge beautiful pork chunks.

The next morning, we got up, drank some emergency coffee, and braced to stand in line at the Blue Benn Diner in Bennington. It's maybe the second-greatest diner in the world (the best, of course, is O'Rourke's). All their specials are plastered to the walls, everything is fresh, including their doughnuts, real local warm maple syrup is served on demand, and the waitresses are indulgent enough to laugh and chat rather than be annoyed when all six of us decide to cram into one miniscule booth. One day, I want to go there for a meal other than breakfast, but that's not to say I wasn't happy with my strawberry-and-cream-cheese-stuffed sourdough french toast with hot strawberry syrup.

After some hiking, a big World Cup upset, many wildlife encounters and a game of "capture the frog" in the swimming pool, we started smelling the most wonderful smells wafting out of the kitchen. Sadia was in the middle of making an enormous Pakistani feast for Christian's July 4th birthday. There was enough for everyone to have three platesful, but I ate so much on my first plate that I thought I might really pop, for real this time. Eggplant raita, four kinds of pickle, beef that had been stewed since before breakfast, lentils with lemon, cabbage with several kinds of seeds, chicken curry (a homemade curry, not "chicken with curry powder"), piles of delicate rice, and flour tortillas serving as naan. All made without consulting a single recipe, every one of the dishes exquisite. The cake (brought by someone who has a big crush on Christian and refuses to believe he does not also pine for her, which added a bizarre twist to the day) was superfluous after a meal like that.

All that food made for a cramped, bloated, and generally uncomfortable three-hour drive home last night, but I think it was worth it.

PS. Happy one-year anniversary to this blog, today! Thanks for reading.


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Flutephobia said...

hey bebe congratulations on one year of blogging! i ran out of stuff to say in a week!


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