Calling Cards

August and I strolled to the park in our neighborhood. I was reminded that there is still a need for calling cards even in this well connected age. There are plenty of places to get them made. Perhaps it is time to consider some. Then again, had I just remembered to use my cell phone...

I remember Mr Gage showing me an old calling card of his. He told me how he'd drop by a friend's house for a visit and if no one was home, he'd leave his card at the door. Slower days, smaller towns, and friends that you feel comfortable enough with to just drop by unannounced.

While at the park I noticed how, over the months, August has become even more confident and dexterous on that playscape. I pushed her a bit on the swing and saw her drowsy face appear. It was time to go. She didn't protest leaving the playscape for grapes and a ride home. On the way back, the breeze through the still green trees caught my eye. They made me present. The walk was one of those moments that will be a future memory because it was so vivid and bright. August singing her favorite song over and over.

We came back to a lit Christmas tree. I sat down to look at my phone and realized no photos were taken at the park, we had no time for photos. It was a beautiful day, much fun was had. I looked at our Christmas tree and the green made me feel present again. There is something in the green around me. While the landscape goes brown, what is left green will stand out. A calling card of sorts,  for me.



Poetry in food

My friend Nadia is a gifted cook. She effortlessly throws together simple, hearty meals full of flavors. She loves to cook and I often remark it is that love that really puts her dishes over the top. Entering her home on a bitterly cold afternoon last week left me with long lasting memories.

Every burner on her stove was going and heating up the room. She had lentil soup just about finished, beef bouillon cooking for dinner, pasta for the children and was frying green bananas. At the same time she had been chopping up lemons, onions and peppers to make chary, a condiment made of fermented lemons. So many warm scents filled the air. It was not the first time. At her house I have enjoyed sambusas made of tuna, tilapia in a simple but exquisitely spiced tomato sauce and a Divine mung bean soup. I asked her if she ever watched the movie or read the book Like Water for Chocolate, I asked her if she was familiar with MFK Fischer, if she ever watched that movie Julie and Julia, watched Chopped, ever wanted to be on Chopped... Instead she just put in front of me a bowl of everything to try.

























There have been only a handful of people in my life who have been able to create a memorable dish from the simplest of ingredients: My Grandmother, my Abuelita, my Oma-in-law, my Abuelita's cousin and Nadia, who is also the most precocious cook I have ever known.

I started to think of how I have known too many who do not know how to cook, and sometimes, don't want to learn because they don't like it. I find it extremely important to learn to put together a meal for oneself, to be able to feed friends and family. In college everyone could make brownies, Rice Krispie treats and maybe spaghetti but no one was putting together stew in a crock pot, or knew how to make a chicken soup from scratch. All animals teach their babies how to hunt and feed themselves. Learning to feed oneself should be high on the priority list. When my child leaves home I hope her skills will include: balancing a check book, knowledge of a trade or craft that she enjoys and can turn into cash when needed, and the ability to create several meals with complete confidence.

One evening Nadia visited me and became hungry. She looked through my refrigerator. That night she taught me how to create capers du oeuf and now it's the only way I want to eat a fried egg.