Of food, feasts and friendship

The other weekend we had a party but other people brought the food: very strange. We’ve had a lot of farewell dinners this autumn, each one with echoes of earlier dinners when we weren’t about to leave everyone.

My current cookery notebook begins in 2001. It’s the third of these notebooks, all kept the same way: recipes in the front, dinner and party menus at the back. The first is a slim volume, begun when I was sixteen in 1976. This last book has a silver cover and was bought for me by my daughter. I’ve been reading through menus from ten, eleven years ago, seeing names of people I’ve just been saying goodbye to; and other names of friends no longer here. I miss them.

Some dishes I can taste again (lamb with lentils and artichoke hearts, pears baked with Rasteau); others stir no memories at all. What was Moroccan chicken? Was it nice? Leafing through the years, with each meal I am transported back to that table, that house, those friendly faces, the talk and laughter.

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