Nobody would really believe me if I said I was much of a lady, but I do have friends who qualify. Some of them will even admit to being my friends! So I had a trio of them over for lunch a few days ago. I’m happy to be in good company of any sex, but whoever my companions, sometimes it’s just dandy to have a little break with a very small group so we can really visit and talk about common interests and the doings of our days. In truth, I also waver between being as polite as I can manage (when absolutely necessary) and being as much the Wild Woman (my friend Celi’s name for females who embrace living fully as our true selves) as time, circumstance, and self-esteem allow. I make plenty of self-deprecating winks and purring demurrals, I know, but my truth is that I think I’m quite dandy. Vraiment.
Still, part of self-acceptance and encouraging affirmation is surrounding myself with outliers—extraordinary persons—and remind myself that they willingly keep company with me, no matter how many alternate options they have. The vast majority of such persons-of-excellence worth pursuing as companions and friends should lean toward the aforementioned Wild side, regardless of gender, by my preference. That means that no matter what the topic, serious or silly, highbrow or low, the conversation will always be scintillating and memorably informative.
This is an instance where, surrounded by fabulous people, my cookery should be so edible and tasty as to please the palates and invite slow and relaxed dining that never distracts from the camaraderie around the table. Nothing aggressively fanciful and showy, but all (hopefully) easy to eat. I don’t like to feed guests over-complicated stuff at the best of times, or I get all stress-ridden and the attention is diverted to picking tiny bones out of the fish, carving tough peels and rinds off of vegetables, and dividing oversized pieces of food into manageable bites. Food is for sustenance, first, and pleasure next; anything more I’ll happily leave to the multitudes of greater cooks, including many of my favorite friends and guests.
So, what shall I fix when a few of those wonderful friends do come over and lunch with me? The usual DIY-friendly foods that we can all assemble to suit our individual appetites, and uncomplicated flavors that will fill us to contentment without drawing attention away from the deeper comforts of delightful companions and their conversation.
This latest Angelic visitation (I can’t help myself: when we took a few candid snapshots of each other, three of us couldn’t resist hamming it up in a parody of the old Charlie’s Angels pose) had the following lunch menu:
Apple juice-cooked quinoa with smoked paprika, served at room temperature
Roasted vegetables (baby corn, carrots, olives, green beans, tomatoes, and artichokes, oven-roasted with mandarin slices, dried mint leaves, black pepper, and coconut oil), also served at room temperature
Fried cheese cubes (we all agreed these addictive little nuggets were the highlight), warm
Crisped zucchini-potato cake pieces—used like croutons
Quick cucumber pickles: fresh diced cukes preserved in leftover dill pickle juice sweetened with honey and sprinkled with added dill
Balsamic vinaigrette (just avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, a jot of honey, salt, and pepper) to dress any or all of the other main-dish ingredients
Assorted sparkling waters and pomegranate juice, plain or mixed
Assorted trifling truffles for dessert