It is probably just a coincidence that this week has been food-heavy for me, beginning last Sunday with a delicious barbecue afternoon. Good heavens I have absolutely no recollection anymore as to when the last barbecue was that I attended. Sometime in Berlin I suppose, and definitely pre-pandemic times, to that would be at the very least, Summer of 2019, if at all. What did I realise last Sunday? First of all that I have truly missed gatherings around food, the easy flow of conversations that criss cross without any particular rhyme or reason, and all while picking on snacks, sipping drinks, and slow burn of the grill. This brought me back to my childhood in Mexico and Kenya, where the gatherings were large, but no matter where you turned, there was always someone to talk to.
It was my mother’s birthday on Tuesday, and one of her favourite dishes was roasted chicken. It was a simple choice, but both unifying and satisfying. Mommy would accept chicken meals in almost any form, grilled, roasted, fried, baked, boiled – as long as it was chicken. So to honour her memory, my daughter and I shared a chicken dinner via Zoom. We both bought grilled chicken and then sat down and had a wonderful evening together catching up on our latest adventures and news. We are both in the process of moving to new homes and the countdown has began, so you can imagine the excitement and underlying stress running through us. It was as if we back at a family gathering with criss crossing topics while munching on the chicken and glugging down whatever soda we had on hand. I was so full afterwards that it was impossible to sleep properly, but we had honoured the memory of Mommy with body and soul that that was all that mattered.
Yesterday I began my day with my weekly Wednesday breakfast rendezvous with VK. We began this ritual a couple of months ago and realised we both need this quiet time away from the office to get a lot of things off our chest. She drinks tea and I have my usual capuccino and croissant. Even the guys at the new cafe know my standard order and say “The usual?” with a smile before I can even get a word out. I don’t know whether it is typical Portuguese behaviour, but find it endearing to be remembered in this manner.
Later on the same day, I had lunch with the birthday boy RF, a beautiful soul who has become a such a dear friend. It is fair to say that we connect on a spiritual and artistic level, something he has in common with my daughter. What a joy to be able to share food at the table (again) and plunge right into topics that bother us both, such as the inability of so many people these days to carry on proper face-to-face conversations. In a world of chatting, social media and virtual realities, not to mention the forced isolation for the past two years, some of us a hungry for meaningful dialogues. It was such a pity that we were both limited to our lunch breaks, otherwise we could have gone on for hours ranting about influencers, scammers, forced social behaviour and mandatory timelines that other people think we should follow. Basically we were two creative souls rebelling against social norms that need to be revised or junked altogether.
This evening I have a dinner appointment with friends who are in town on holiday from Germany. It is reminiscent of bygone days when I had house guests from faraway lands (well, that was because I was living in a faraway land myself such as India, Thailand or the Philippines). I may not have my house yet, but it is still a gift to be able to meet up with friends who are an integral part of your life. Personal and professional choices have led us all down down different paths over the years, but we kept the friendship flame alive and when you can claim a friendship that spans 30 years, then that is worth its weight in gold!
So my body is reacting to all the surplus food, but I don’t give a damn. The intrinsic joy of dialogues and the thrill of planning makes me feel alive, with an excitement running through me that I haven’t felt in years. There will be plenty of time in the future to shed the pounds, but you can never reclaim precious moments with special people once the window of opportunity closes.