Kicked Off

072815Where our shoes land tells you where we’ve been, where tiredness overtook us or we decided, This is it, I’m in for the night. This spot below the kitchen table suggests we started talking: his brother, my applicants, the little list we keep of what hasn’t been done — car headlight, fig tree, pest control, and aren’t we almost out of milk?(Yesterday we both went to the store without checking in. The result: four dozen eggs and a line of rice crackers on the shelves.) On my side bags gather in need of emptying. On his a folded paper towel where he rests his elbow. Maybe there are houses where the shoes always land in closets or in a special rack by the front door. But would I want to live there? Here I can trace our days by the places we paused, then unlaced, realizing now I am home.

July 28, 2015

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Three Dinners

061015On Monday we smashed potatoes and then roasted them in duck fat until they were browned and crisp. On Wednesday the squash blossoms were so beautiful I had to lay them out for a picture. The frittata sang of yellow. On Friday I sliced cucumbers thin and laid them beside French beans, sliced tomatoes, and purple potatoes. At all there were olives, manchego on a bamboo board, the pickles I made from last week’s cornichons. At all there was conversation around the yellow table with friends I was happy to see. It must be summer break, with dinner at the house and no place else I am supposed to be.

June 12, 2015

The Earth Asserting Itself

052815It was a week of waters coming in, homes floating away, mud washing across the streets. We are woken in the middle of the night by thunder, then the human responses to thunder – cell phones sounding alarms, blaring messages of flood warnings. It could have been me. It could have been any of us off in those houses in Wimberley. I was shopping cabins on Airbnb only days early. And all of this writ small on my kitchen table: CSA tomatoes and a ladybug. (Earlier this week Julie announced a centipede in the radicchio, the sentence like a secret code.) The earth asserting itself, reminding us we are not separate, we cannot be separate. By morning the bug had crawled to Chris’s side of the table. He picked it up and carried it outside again.

May 28, 2015

Praise Song: Spanish Tortilla

040715Praise how they sit on every counter at every bar and every restaurant — city, country, tiniest village where one single man stands at a machine steaming milk. Tucked into crusty bread, heated or not, this simple combo of egg, potato, and onion can fuel you through a morning, or an evening, or hundreds of miles on the Camino. In Rabe de la Calzada, the town where they prepared for the feast of Santa Maria de los Milagros by carrying a giant paella pan across the square, I ate tortilla at an oil-cloth covered table with other pilgrims. I had seen the hospitalera cooking the tortilla from a side door to the kitchen. Praise her easy shrug when I asked if I could watch. Praise her powerful wrist as she turned the tortilla from skillet to plate then slid it from plate back into skillet. Praise how she tried to give me the recipe despite my faltering Spanish, then served it to us brightened with strips of red pepper. Praise how I remember her each time I make a tortilla, which I do most weeks. Tonight, after teaching, almost 10pm, Chris and I sat down together to this one, last of the CSA leeks tucked in. Praise the brown edges of the potatoes, the perfect slice on the plate.

April 7, 2015

Red

030215Napkin I reach for at every meal. Spoon rest. Spatula. Compost bin. Ramekin. Mug for morning tea. Lamps topped with IKEA shades. Cast iron pot, ceramic sealed. Coffee maker pulled from the shelf on the rare occasion of
coffee. Pillow cover. Shirt on the man in the Dominican painting. Planter. Envelopes. Front door, freshly painted. Polka-dotted couch. Household items, insistent in their color. Turkish rug. Gerber daisies.

March 2, 2015

Poached Egg on Toast

022415Morning eating is a ritual in our kitchen, and it takes the shape of our latest obsessions. Steel cut oats, or grain free. Eggs we call marbled because we scramble them in the pan. Tiny baked sweet potatoes. And these days toast — spelt — and eggs poached in floating green silicone cups. The butter is Kerry. The jam apricot. On a good day, a sliced orange sits between us on a wooden cutting board.

February 24, 2015

Tarta de Santiago

020115I ate it first for my birthday at Barlata, where I knew that if the year brought the Camino, it would also bring this cake. I ate it on a stormy night in Navarette, sharing a table with a boisterous German man named Tony who ordered extra garlic for both his soup and mine and told me stories I was tempted to disbelieve. I ate it on checker-clothed tables in humble albergues and while sitting at a picnic table in a tiny village a day’s walk toward the coast, the clothes hanging on the line behind me. I ate it on the last night of my Camino in Finisterre at the end of a meal that offered no seafood, though the ocean was roaring just past our shoulders. And finally, rushing in the rain toward the Santiago cathedral for a pilgrim’s mass in which the giant incense burner would sail in the air, I stopped for a quick coffee. The barista placed a tiny wedge of cake on the saucer beside my espresso cup. Back home, months later, I took advantage of a quiet Sunday afternoon and baked my own tarta de Santiago. The cross of St. James was designed by Chris and cut out of an index card. He used a butter knife to lift it from the sugar-dusted cake.

February 1, 2015