One of life’s great pleasures is sharing a meal with friends. There’s something to be said about a bowl of salad or a plate of fish that reminds me that people have been sitting around and breaking bread since humanity got started. Eating is a great equalizer and, in a house like this one, it is essential to the maintaining of friendships. Whether it is in the kitchen or the dining room, my Bond family communicates caring through food: we celebrate with champagne, we delight in cooking together, we never seem to stop laughing.
These last two weeks have brought us more reason than usual for eating and toasting. Our “parents” (Claudia & Michael) eloped. With a wedding planned for sometime in September, we all eagerly awaited what would have been the party of the year; of course, I’ve come to learn that my dear friends like spontaneity. So, while they went away for a family reunion down in Florida, we shouldn’t have been surprised by their sudden nuptials when we saw them hinted at on Facebook. Let’s just say that the group chat was poppin’ that night.
To celebrate our newlyweds properly, a banana bread cake was made. The significance of this gesture is lost on you now, but know that rarely does a week go by without somebody making a loaf of banana bread. With both parents slated to get home late, we pushed the surprise party back a day (much to the chagrin of Gizem and Elzerie who are equally impatient). At last, though, after a box of party hats was found in the basement, we planned our attack with all the sweet artlessness of children too excited for Christmas. Which is to say we sprung the celebration on them. They laughed, cut a cake together, and told us the details of their wedding. It was, of course, too sweet for words.
It is nice to have nearly everyone home (Bill has been away in Florida for a week with his family). More than that, we have a temporary addition: Lark. She’s a travel nurse and a longtime friend of Brennan’s. She’s fun and knowledgeable about a great deal of things. Having her at home in the kitchen seems a natural thing, like she’s been here the whole time. Moreover, she and Brennan have been living as vegans this month, so a good deal of our menus have been more adventurous than usual, which is saying something.
This past Thursday we had a welcome dinner for Lark. I invited my friend Daniel over to cook because he is both a professional chef and enjoys spending time with my housemates. We spent the day in careful planning, trying to figure out how best to get around the pesky details of cooking vegan. Boy, am I glad he was there (I tried to put half a stick of butter on top of our green beans, twice). The menu was basic but interesting: vegan penne with homemade marinara sauce, Cajun green beans with shallots, and stuffed mushrooms. For dessert, Lark made vegan chocolate/banana pudding.
Before any cooking can happen, Daniel and I had to make our way into the city to Whole Foods for vegan pasta. It took a lot longer than it should because it was 5 o’clock and raining. We managed to get lost in the oddly-shaped aisles hunting for said vegan pasta, somehow managing to pass it three times. We argued over the type we should get (chickpea or lentil) and then fought over who got to pay. I laughed at myself after I said, “My family will pay for this.” I guess it’s true, they are my family. I think about that when we drive home to throw a marinara together faster than it’s meant to be cooked.
It was such a heartwarming thing to have my roommates congregate in the kitchen while Daniel and I worked. He chopped, I snipped beans; he sautéed, I made rice; he was very serious, I had a glass of wine. When it was time to eat, the table was set and things were transferred without much word. Things just sort of happen here. We passed around bowls and plates and somehow had just enough because everyone is considerate of everyone else. No one is greedy. We toasted to Lark and to ourselves by saying, “Proust,” and aggressively making eye contact with each other.
As the night wore on, we laugh some more and Michael made a pot of tea. The pudding was perfect and paired well with ice cream. Conversation spills and spills and doesn’t stop until well past 9. We eat like Europeans, late and leisurely. At some point, Daniel excuses himself because the world marches on and he has work the next day. The family applauded and thanked him for the meal. I go to bed soon after but am more than aware that the party rages on in the dining room for the better part of another hour. It makes me smile, too, as I pop on my headphones.
The weekends at home are my favorite. Someone is always cooking breakfast and willing to share. After a night of too much drinking, my stomach was soothed with oatmeal that Brennan made. Michael broke out the salmon and bagels. Claudia made coffee. My headache disappears. We hang around in the kitchen well into the afternoon. In fact, the kitchen is rarely empty. Someone is in there right now, rattling around to the tune of their schedule. I’ll go out soon to refill my cup, say good morning, and will be ready to tackle yet another day.