jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


Whoa, those carrots took a long time. Long time to cook, then I decided I would like them better pureed, and since I have only a small food processor and no ricer (hmm, note to self) it got done in small quantities. Oh yes, they are so good, simmered in orange juice and ginger. And yes, I ate all of what did not fit into a container for transport. I have towers of prepped food on my counters. I think I could make a scale replica of lower Manhattan with it all.

But I did get the green beans snapped and into their marinade and herbs chopped for sticking under the t-bird's skin. I kept looking at the left-over pound of potatoes sitting on the counter, and finally, I just gave in. They are now boiling in a pot on the stove. It remains to be seen whether I eat them myself tonight, or share them tomorrow. I have one very nice shallot to go with them, and some thyme...oh dear...

This all started with my insistance to my best friend, something like "dude! your dad is 85 years old! He has been a citizen for like, 50 years! He should eat a real Thanksgiving before he dies!" And when I am determined to give you joy, you had just better let me, or I will give you a black eye of happiness and heaven help you. It was not a simple thing of making a gift of this dinner. These people lost everything, had their world turned into ash, had their world try to kill them, during the war. To let me in, to let me into the intimacies of their lives, their kitchen, took months of negotiation.

My friend said, please, no. This is not a time for their lives to be expanding. Their lives are getting smaller, we don't enlarge it, we don't let people in.

He was so wrong, he was joyfully, amazingly wrong. The first year it was small, only four people, him, his mother, his father, me. The next year, his sometimes grumpy sister. Then, his always grumpy cousin. Then a friend. Then another friend. And now, even though the father doesn't attend the dinner anymore (we joke, we say he's gotten a lot quieter, doesn't eat as much, doesn't take up as much room--it's because he's actually dead, but he will never be dead, someone so fiercely loved) and now we are so many we may not fit around the table and I am worrying happily about not making enough food.

Now, back to my potatoes. Next up: hazelnut cheesecake!


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