Posted by: lisetta | October 18, 2008

Friendship calls

While making the torta caprese today, I got a call from Jeff, who was hosting his first DC dinner party and wanted to know my recipe for tart crust, which he remembered eating at many of my parties. What a compliment! He was planning to make a rosemary mushroom tart as an appetizer, followed by a butternut squash risotto, some other things I can’t recall and a flourless chocolate torte. I wished I could be at his party tonight as well! He had invited over a colleague with an Italian wife, and thought we’d get along. Dining on great food with linguist and Italians  …. if I hadn’t already had plans, I’d have gone in a second. 

Later on as I was getting ready to go out, Kim called to ask me how to make roasted garlic.  Wondering why the heck she thought I knew how to do it, she shared her memories of my dinner parties, insisting:

“I know it was when you were living in your house here in Pittsburgh.” (Actual quote. We’ve been friends since fourth grade, so laptop typing while talking is no dealbreaker.) 

She said she remembers spreading it on bread. Huh? What was I doing serving roasted garlic? I have absolutely no recollection of this, of course, kind of like when my sisters start telling all kinds of goofy stories about our childhood. I swear they make most of the stuff up! Kim shared other memories as well:

I remember one of the first times I had arugula was also at your house. I remember thinking it was bad; that something was wrong with it because of the bitter flavor. I think I said something like, “Lisa, something in this salad doesn’t really taste right.” And you paused and said, “Oh it’s the arugula!” 

When I lived in Pittsburgh, few in my world even knew what arugula was. I grew several varieties in my garden, and served it to anyone who came over in the summer. Few folks liked it. One of the reasons Penn ‘seduced’ me to move here  was because my future colleagues all ordered arugula salad at Bistro La Baia, the place they took me for dinner after a day of interviews.  I remember thinking I had found “my people”. LOL. Only one of the people at the table that night are still in my world. (Two turned out to be real jerks.)

Kim had another lettuce story:

Remember when Nick and I came to Philly and we went to that place where we sat at the counter and watched the guys cooking, (Dmitri’s in Queen Village), and I asked you why they were boiling the lettuce? (It was escarole.)

Sometimes the unexpected blasts from the past bring just the right sentiment into the present moment. While I wasn’t spending the day cooking for a dinner party, I was happy to be going to one; reconnecting to the inner hostess felt like going ‘home’.


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