Monday, November 28, 2005

Decadent Eating and Reading

It was a Thanksgiving to remember. . .especially in the past few days as my pants grow tighter through the hips and sweatpants tempt me as a viable fashion statement. The invention of elastic waistbands may be the doom of us all.

We headed up to the shore early on Thursday afternoon to join friends for Thanksgiving dinner. Although snow was forecast, it was sunny despite the chill. Near three o'clock we set off for a short hike along the coastline and scaled impressive granite rocks along the cold shore. A bit of exercise to prime the gut for the feast, so to speak.

Cheese--at least six varieties from France and Portugal and Vermont--with fresh white crusted bread and olives took the edge off after the walk. Then, just for fun, we had a round of freshly sautéed shrimp. This was followed by a round of mussels--prepared Belgium style. I should note that two cooks vied for our affections. One dish followed by another, just for fun, to see which cook could garner our praises.

While we waited for various things to simmer, D. (the ten-year-old and the only one there under the age of twenty five) got us going in a fiercely competitive card game: Spoons. The Cuban soon declared that there should be a punishment for whoever loses three times. He claimed that card games in Cuba always have punishments. We were game. M., the world class scientist, soon had to succumb to his punishment: sitting on the floor, he propped himself on his hands and feet and had to use his raised bum to trace the numbers 0 - 9. This was the Cuban's idea. It was genius and absolutely hilarious. I'm sure it burned some calories too--which is always good between courses.

A thick and steaming vegetable soup course was served at the table. Before the soup we had been milling around, eating at the kitchen island and enjoying the sunset through the wide expanse of windows.

Then a small salmon course with vegetables. Just for fun. It was sumptuous. I know we are supposed to eat more salmon--it has various healthy attributes, but this course felt too decadent to be healthy.

Finally we arrived at the main course: pheasants cooked in cream sauce with endives and a side of mashed potatoes. L. was in charge of the mashing. It was quite a sight to see M. and L. busy with their kitchen tools and mystified by the blown fuse. It was my first taste of pheasant and endives. The pheasant was quite mild, moist and decidedly ungamish. The endives were slightly bitter, but just to my liking.

Then we took a break. We sipped wine and rested near the crackling fire.

Finally we dug into sweet potato/pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and at least three other homemade desserts. It was over the top, to say the least.

We stayed up until at least one a.m. enjoying chatter and wine and the toasty fire. Finally, exhausted and heavy with food and sleep we headed off to our bedrooms. Luckily the house was built for a big extended family to vacation and so we all got a comfy beds with views to the ocean to wake to in the morning.

I paired my indulgent eating with a guilty reading pleasure: The Rule of Fourby Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. It is a Dan Brownish thriller, but easy going. I admit that I gave up even my daily dose of news in order to indulge in this one--taking breaks only for necessary naps. I also enjoyed finishing Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, which my book club read for November. Both of these little jewels will be set forth in Boston soon as part of

Currently I am reading William Gaddis' Carpenter's Gothic (which turns out to be less strange than I had hoped). My night table book is Exodus by Leon Uris. I am also reading one story a day or so from The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction and I have just checked out from the Boston Public Library a copy of The Working Poor by David K. Shipler.

In between reading and eating, we also took time over the long holiday weekend to visit the important new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science: Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. It was too crowded and the lighting could have been handled more effectively BUT we loved it. Do you know how they made Luke's spacecraft hover? I do! After nearly three hours building robots and learning about magnetic trains, we headed off to the North End to find a cozy Italian restaurant with plates of pasta and then a cafe for plates of pastry. I know, all that on top of the feast I already described. . . today, it is back to the gym!

Oh! And just for posterity's sake. . .and future torte buying. . check out The Empire Torte and the special "reserve torte." Talk about decadence.

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