There I was huddled over the stove with no makeup, wet hair pulled back in a tangled, sloppy mess, half dressed and still wearing my fuzzy pink slippers (yes, I really do have big fat fuzzy pink slippers). As I am bounty-hunting with a slotted spoon for the rebellious ravioli that refused to leave their luxurious bath of barely brined, barely boiling water, she whispers that, when I have a minute, she has to talk to me in private. In private. Great, maybe my ragged cut-off denim mini-skirt was a little inappropriate for the dinner party, but it was one of her invitees who overestimated the look-for-parking time and arrived half an hour early, just as I was getting out of the shower. I didn’t have time to change! And when I have a minute? Baby, it’s all about synchronized microwave oven kitchen timers and all four burners going on the range top. There are no spare seconds in the perfect pacing of a dinner party.
But a moment arose, I don’t remember exactly when, somewhere in that intermission between appetizer and salad when the pace in the kitchen slows down but the conversation and laughter in the living room speeds up. She jumped at the opportunity and we furtively escaped to my bedroom which was off-limits to everyone except my very closest friends. You see, my guests are sitting in an immaculate living room, but only because minutes before the first one arrived, I had thrown everything, and I mean everything, onto my bedroom floor and slammed the door shut. Why should I reveal how much a domestic goddess I am not? ;)
Amidst the clean but still unfolded laundry, old magazines, and two week’s worth of as-of-yet unopened mail strewn across the bed and floor, she presented me with something wrapped in purple and royal blue paper. It was a gift! For me! *chuckle* One of the reasons I adore my friends is that on their birthdays, I get a present. She wanted to thank me with a gift for cooking and hosting her birthday dinner party, but she still doesn’t get it that cooking and planning a party is an absolute treat for me.
It was a copy of Ruth Reichl’s latest book, Garlic and Sapphires, which she had found in the number one spot on my delicious wish list. By the way, if you happen to have extra cash you’re looking to get rid of, feel free to unburden yourself of it on The Delicious Life ;) The book is mineminemine to keep and read, and though I wanted to plop down right there on my bed and start noshing on garlic and sapphires, I put it on my nightstand for dessert. Making sure to completely shut the bedroom door behind us, she returned to her adoring guests, and I to the kitchen, with just seconds left on the timer to remove a summer vegetable timbale from the oven. *phew*
I didn’t get a chance to read the book that evening, since the last guest actually left close to 3 a.m., after which I stumbled past overturned cups, stacks of plates, and at least a half dozen wrappers for Nerds ropes (don’t ask) to my bed. I spied the book on the nightstand just before collapsing, and could only muster a whisper to Ruth that our first date would have to wait, probably more than a day, since the chaos out in the living room looked like it would require a few weekday evenings to undo. There will be a few more words in the future about the details of the birthday dinner that did all the damage ;)
I am excited to read the book, because though I am quite familiar with the name of the woman who was a critic at both the LA and New York Times and is now the editor of Gourmet magazine, I have not read any of her books. Actually, that’s not entirely true. If passing my eyes over the words on the pages of Tender at the Bone without really registering any meaning counts as reading, then okay, I read Tender at the Bone. But that was back in my under ripe college days at Berkeley, and my roommate, who aspired to be a chef and eventually did go on to work in some great positions first in the Bay Area, then in LA at La Brea Bakery, had a copy. I just read it because it was there on our Regent apartment floor. I don’t think I could recognize a passage if I were to read it now.
There was a little appe-teaser of an interview with Ruth Reichl over at Amazon, which I’ve already read. I did a scan of Garlic and Sapphires last night, intrigued by the interweaving of Ruth Reichl’s own recipes and her actual restaurant reviews with the narrative of the book. There was a line that literally popped out at me. I don’t know the context, but for some reason, I keep thinking about it and wonder how on earth it fits in with a restaurant critic’s book.
“I did not come here simply to eat.”
Funny, neither did I.