One thing that I’m pretty sure I know I do well is cook: extravagant dinner parties for 10, fondue for fifty, spur of the moment duck a l’orange for a couple unexpected guests. So I was aghast to learn that my parents had succumbed to eating dinner in front of the television – a habit I will not abide.
The monks at St. Gregory’s Abbey taught me that personalized linen napkins can do wonders for ritualizing and dignifying the meal. So, my first stop was the linen cabinet where I procured three napkins: black for my father, butterflies for my mother, Bahamian embroidery pour moi. We’ll use the same napkin for a week – instead of dozens of paper towels, a savings for the environment and civilization.
Then I set about to roast the chicken. I’m well aware that a roast chicken is deceptively simple. I’ve roasted a good number in my day, though, and have come to know that the keys are a hot oven, wine, and patience.
Turns out, I had at my disposal a new-fangled electric oven that thinks it’s smarter than me, a tee-totaling household, and a reservation for three at 5.30 (yes, that’s for dinner, not cocktails).
My destiny should have been clear.
With no cocktails to offer and the cheese and salami declined, I was forced to serve undercooked potatoes and overcooked brussels sprouts as their own course – in the manner of the French – while I coddled the electric contraption that’d been told it knows how to cook into browning my bird.
In the end, everything made it to the table in some semblance of edibility and we laughed realizing that we’re all going to have make adjustments in order to live together again in a new place and in a different way.
My mother has vowed not to talk about church at the table.
My father will satisfy himself with cheese and salami from 5.30 until dinner is ready.
Et pour moi, I’m supposed to keep a wine-free kitchen (!).