I think there will be no vampire sightings in my neck of the woods today [pun intended, and I’m ducking as we speak]. Last night was the monthly dinner with Brother Sushi, and his turn to buy. He’d had several places in mind and drove past three of them on the way over, each with lines out the door in 100°F weather. We opted for a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant just around the corner. It is LittleBit’s favorite place to eat, other than our kitchen when I’m baking brownies.
The first time we ate there, Fourthborn and her fiancé came along. I had the lasagna; Brother Sushi had the Chicken Piccata; I don’t remember what the kids ate. LittleBit’s favorite is the manicotti, which is what I ate last night, and now I quite understand. I like it every bit as much as I like my own lasagna, which I prefer above anyone else’s, and which is the first thing I learned to cook well, back when I was married to First Hubby.
The sauce is sublime. It tastes as if it had been simmering gently for days over the merest whisper of a flame, and it’s not over-salted like most restaurant food. The seasoning is subtle and complex, and love is evident in every bite. The pasta is not tube manicotti from a box. It is squares of fresh pasta carefully rolled around the filling, and they don’t skimp on the cheese. I had hoped to eat half and bring the rest home for breakfast or lunch today. No such luck! If my mother hadn’t taught me better, I’d have licked that plate.
This is a family restaurant, the sort of place where you sit surrounded by people you love and solve the problems of the world over dinner. There were two little boys sitting at one table, coloring quietly and watching TV. Obviously the owners’ sons. There were a couple of men sitting at another table, conversing exuberantly and joyfully in a language I couldn’t quite place. I asked Brother Sushi what he thought, and he said it might be Armenian. I thought the vowels sounded Greek and the consonants vaguely Slavic. So when Madame brought us our check, I asked. Her husband was speaking Albanian with a man who grew up with him in the same village in Macedonia. She is NY-born of Macedonian parents. I came home and Googled and Wiki’d and chipped a bit more veneer off my ignorance.
How cool is it to think that these nice folks who cook so well might be related to Philip of Macedon and his rather more famous son?
And now it is morning, and I have drunk the last drops of the milk, and my ankles and eyelids are not protesting last night's dinner. [My skin is so sensitive to salt intake that some mornings I wake unable to open my eyes. This, thankfully, was not one of them.] And I am of a mood to spend a good part of the day in the kitchen. Some of it packing lesser-used tools and culinary toys, and some of it cooking and baking. It will have to be simple stuff, things that I have memorized, for I packed my cookbooks earlier this week. Thank goodness for Epicurious.
And I have to find a way to get cash to Middlest and LittleBit today; last night they picked up a new duffel or suitcase for LittleBit's return trip. Middlest’s PayPal is down, and the two major money transfer companies want $20 or $14 to facilitate that transfer. Which means that much as I hate to give my bank any more of my cash than they already take, I may have to put on my Mrs. Uppity clothes and go inside and arrange for a wire transfer, which will certainly be cheaper.
How on earth do my poorer brothers and sisters manage? Isaiah [3:15] truly foresaw our day: “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” I think of these good people who are working here legally and sending money home to Central America and losing what? 15-20% of what they send, to transfer fees?
I am all for free enterprise and a lawful, reasonable profit; that's what’s building my 401K after all and ensuring that I won't have to eat cat food in twenty years. But usury makes me livid, the moreso because I have experienced its effects myself. We bought our little house in 1981 at the height of the interest rate feeding frenzy. We assumed a mortage on which the previous owners had paid 7.25% interest. The savings and loan bumped our rate up to 14.25%. And the second mortgage had an APR of 20.36%.
Almost this persuadeth me to become a lawyer. Almost.
[A few hours later]
We now interrupt this relative rhapsody for another infomercial from Reality, Inc. My left toe, formerly ingrown, is now ingrate and infected. So I have made two trips to the pharmacy today: one that I expected, for a refill of Mr. Lasix. And another to pick up Mr. Sulfa. And returned my library books. And picked up a $5 pizza, because I no longer feel like cooking. Firstborn was out mid-morning, having picked up Bitty-Bit. They brought me oodles of boxes from 1BDH's sister. No Bitties for me this weekend; BittyBubba does not need my germs, and my toes do not need BittyBit's feet.
No photos today, sorry. Not in the mood to move stuff around and photograph minimal progress. Ask me again tomorrow?