The phone call arrived just in time for my hunger pangs to kick in.
OK, those of you who know me even slightly know that if I’m conscious, I’m generally hungry.
Still, the call came in at around 6 p.m. I’d been at the keyboard most of the day, and I was trying hard not to think of having to get up to fix dinner.
“You’ll never guess what I just had for dinner,” she cooed into the receiver.
Yes, it was like phone sex in the way that you can have food porn, words and images of food that just, well, arouse something within you. To paraphrase Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, I may not know how to describe it, but I know it when I see/hear it.
My friend Carol from upstate New York was gushing on about how she had baked the perfect sweet potato and topped it with a showering of fresh peas from her garden. Fresh peas are something we rarely see in this hot-as-Hades climate, so already my mouth was watering.
“Then I had a salad that I created out of thin air,” she continued, describing the three types of lettuces she had also picked from her garden. She tossed in some fresh dill, slivers of cucumber, chopped walnuts (not from her garden), just-picked blueberries and crumbles of goat cheese (also not from the garden). A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar finished off the dish.
“It was scrumptious,” she said. She even sent photos of the greens to prove how gorgeous it must have been.
That’s what foodie friends do. They love to talk about the meals they just had, the fresh items they just gathered from their gardens, the dishes they just had in (fill in name of foreign city) on their latest trip, the wine they drank while watching the sun set.
I got even with Carol by describing the half-dozen figs I harvested today, sending her off into daydreams of stuffing them with goat cheese and drizzling honey on top.
Somehow, this turned the conversation to wine, a trip we had taken to Napa Valley a few years back, restaurants we had eaten at, favorite flavors we missed.
By the time, the call was over, I had my dinner menu planned and ready to go. I, too, was going to have steamed peas (frozen ones, I’ll grant you, but vastly superior to canned). My touch would be to add butter and some mint from my garden.
I have often made a meal out of just that, but I went a few steps further tonight. I sliced some leftover rib-eye and heated the pieces only slightly. I then topped them with a pico de gallo made of minced red onions from the farmers market tossed with diced tomatoes, banana pepper and a fiery jalapeño from the backyard. Instead of salad, I opted for a few Kalamata olives, and the whole meal was ready in less than 10 minutes, including harvest time.
A glass of rosé on the side gave everything an added glow.
For dessert? Two of those figs. No goat cheese. No honey. Something that perfect doesn’t need to be dressed up.
Half a country away, we managed to share meals that nourished both body and friendship. Thanks, Carol.