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That makes me smile!
Thank you, thank you!
When she so kindly gave me this lovely award I thought I must write something special, to prove my worth, as it were.
Naturally, my mind went completely blank.
Then I read this post on Jaden's Steamy Kitchen and her mention of kids, food and making a mess, reminded me of this incident. It still makes me smile when I remember it….
We were having dinner at a gorgeous country house hotel in the south of France. It was a beautiful, warm summer evening and dinner was on a stepped terrace on the hillside sloping down from the hotel. We had views looking into the sunset over acres of vineyards. The candles were flickering in a light breeze; the women were in flowing sun dresses with the 'de rigueur' pashmina draped over the chair arm; the men in subtle silk shirts. It was picture perfect!
There were only 6 or 7 tables and in the quiet evening there was just a low hum of conversation interspersed with the tinkling of silverware.
At one of the tables was an American couple with two young boys, close in age, between 7 and 10 years old. They had obviously been given the strictest orders to be on their best behavior. They carefully watched to see which utensil to use, which hand to hold it in, discussing with each other how to point the fork or knife. They moved their bread from the tablecloth to their plate, then back to the tablecloth when they noticed the French couple next to them left their bread on the cloth. Of course, the boys bread was full of sauce by this time…
They must have been admonished to stay neat. They dabbed their lips before drinking water from the goblets and always wiped their fingers (after licking them) before smoothing the linen napkin back on their laps.
They did so well, for so long…. until the cheese was served.
I'm guessing after eating cubes of Swiss and Cheddar with their fingers for their whole young lives, the runny, smelly French cheeses were beyond strange. Fingers didn't work (and dad frowned at the attempt) and it was difficult to keep the cheese on the fork. Finally, the younger one used his knife to scoop the cheese onto his bread. Very good!
Except that after every bite, remembering the admonition to be neat, he wiped his knife on his napkin. By the time the cheese was finished, and the dessert served, he was left with a sticky, smelly ball of linen and cheese – and nowhere to put it. We could tell he was considering tossing it down the hillside when the waiter noticed his dilemma and rescued him.
Still, we had all gotten through a 5 course dinner without a loud incident; no running, screaming or refusal to eat.
But young boys can only be so good. After some giggling discussion between the two, an agreement seemed to be reached.
In the silence, over coffee, as the now-replete diners were enjoying the quiet of the evening, a young voice rang clearly:
"Daddy, how do you make babies?" came from the elder.
All conversation on the terrace ceased.
"You promised to tell!" chimed in the younger.
We all waited, in silence.
Dad looked around. No help, anywhere.
The French couple gave an expectant "Oui?"
The Spanish couple lifted their glasses in salute.
The entire adult population of the terrace, including staff, looked , expectantly, at Dad. And waited.
Dad finally spoke: "This isn't really the place…"
"But you promised!" "Please!!!" "We really want to know!?!?"
The diners joined the chorus: "Yes, please." "Do tell!" "Aw, come on, tell" "We'll be good."
Yes, we ALL wanted to hear…
Good behavior is not always destined to last…..
Smiles, on the other hand…..
Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed my fondness for first courses. Easily a third of the recipes I post are for starters.
The reasons are simple:
If I'm going to do something fussy I'd rather do it for the first course when appetites are more appreciative…and If it's not perfect I can still redeem myself with the main course.
Most of my first courses are all, or mostly, vegetables. I can combine flavors and do interesting treatments in a first course that I wouldn't do in a side dish.
And, last, it gives me an excuse to sit down and have a glass of champagne or a nice white wine while the main course finishes cooking itself.
Unlike most Europeans we do not always have a first course: I reserve it for the weekends, when I still, out of long habit, make the nicer, fancier, more gourmet dinners.
1 stalk (rib) celery
1/2 medium onion
1 tsp olive oil
hand full spinach leaves, (2oz, 60gr)
7 – 10 olives, black or green
1/2 cup polenta I used quick cooking
1 7/8 cups stock (2 cups minus 2 tbs)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Tomato Prosciutto Sauce
Finely chop onion, celery and carrot. Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Add carrot, onion and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Slice olives. Using a scissors, cut the spinach leaves into fine strips. Heat stock in saucepan. When boiling, pour in polenta, whisking constantly – or it will have little volcanic eruptions spewing polenta all over your stove. Turn heat down and cook about 5 minutes (or whatever your package tells you), stirring constantly. When done stir in cheese, vegetables and olives, distributing evenly. Lightly oil a bread pan, size doesn't matter. With a rubber spatula, scoop polenta into one end of the bread pan – tilt the pan and prop it so the polenta stays put. Smooth the top and exposed end. Cover with film and let cool.
To Serve: Slice the Polenta Loaf, 2 – 3 slices per person (1/3", 1 cm thick). Arrange nicely on a plate. Divide sauce and add to plate. Serve. I sliced and fried the leftover and served with soup the next day – intentional leftovers 😉
Finely chop the onion. Roughly chop the Prosciutto. Heat olive oil in medium, skillet. Add onion and ham and sauté until onion is transparent. Add tomatoes and herbs, reduce heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. It should be chunky and thick.
I used half of the sauce on the Egg 'Noodles' (see photo on previous post)
Now, I'm meant to pass on the "You Make Me Smile Award"
I can't do it. I thought about. Then I thought some more.
There are so many wonderful blogs that I read regularly because they make me smile and brighten my day; I just couldn't single out five….so just go check out my blogroll – it'll make you smile, too!