TALES FROM THE DINNER TABLE
In the early 70’s, I lived in a repurposed farmhouse transformed into three separate but connected apartments. The house was located on Anniversary Lane, a rural country road.
In order to simplify the evening meal preparation, a system of shared cooking was developed… [https://gypsy4joy.com/2013/03/06/how-to-survive-without-money/] resulting in communal evening meals.
Visitors as well as members of the Anniversary Lane house frequently occupied the table. These visitors brought a distinct flavor to the meals. An African Education Minister in training, a retired cultural attaché from China, a woman poet who moved into the milk house for the summer, a medical resident and his girlfriend looking for a place to stay, a University Department of Education Professor from Greece and an assortment of other house member’s acquaintances offered their opinions and conversations.
The house members themselves provided an array of shapes, ages, and experiences. A couple occupied the top floor apartment with their two preschool daughters. The father was obtaining his doctorate degree in English while his wife worked in a University research project. They both had traveled Europe extensively. They were the inspiration behind the communal efforts at the farmhouse. They also set the standards for the menu derived from their European diet. Fresh bread, a green salad with homemade dressing or vegetables and a main dish, dessert was optional. Beverages were served BYO.
Two male graduate students lived in the apartment beneath them. One of the students was from England and carried his culinary heritage with him. He frequently opted out of cooking and paid the minimal fee to attend the meals. His roommate, an American, participated when his girlfriend was present.
My man friend and myself newly occupied the last apartment. He was a medicine resident at the University where I attended graduate classes. I was the chief cook for our apartment, he my Sous – Chef and dishwasher.
I remember one weekday meal at our apartment attended by my fellow classmate from Swaziland. He had participated in our meals previously and lamented the lack of his home’s culinary choices while studying abroad.
He described the preparation of food in a reserved British accent that could not disguise a deep longing for the familiar taste of home. We at the farmhouse decided to satisfy his yearnings with an impromptu meal.
For weeks prior to the meal we researched the foods native to his country and searched for possible substitutes in our co-op’s food inventory. Recipe books were consulted for guidance on flavoring and cooking techniques.
The content of the menu escapes my memory except for my skillful adaptation of green bananas for fried plantains.
I do remember the tears in my friend’s eyes when he entered our dinning room and inhaled the familiar aromas of home.