Sharing meals

This is the story of first impressions. A story of a lot of many expectations and much preparation, a story of first hand shakes, a story of first hugs, a story I will tell my children and grandchildren about.

In April 2009, a few months into dating A, I was invited to met A’s mom and his brother. Over the first few months we were dating, A told me many many many stories about his mom and his dad, who have been divorced for a long time and his younger brother, he told me about how wonderful they were. How they were always there for him, how he knew they’d love me and vice versa but no matter how much you think you are prepared for this sort of things, you never are enough. I came to learn, that every occasion (even A & me dropping by for a quick dinner) was a big celebration. Nothing was ever ‘just thrown together’, everything was always well planned through. Every meal came with it’s instructions and every instruction came with a story of how the food was inspired by Mr. Gordon Ramsey or Bobby Flay himself.

Now if you have had the great pleasure to have met my parents, you know that meals ARE in fact thrown together, that meals are mostly selfexplainatory and that they were in fact not ‘inspired by one of the greatest chefs the world has ever seen’. So having bright, wonderfully decorated meals was a first for me.

Let’s back up here a minute: It was midafternoon on a Saturday, I was on my way from Virginia to rural PA following the instructions on my GPS, which left me in the middle of nowhere, when finally, after two hours of driving, I pulled up in the right driveway. I was sitting in my minivan for a minute, checking my make up and my hair in the mirror, making sure I look good for the very first encounter with A’s family. Even after 1.000 stories, I still didn’t know what exactly to expect. From what A told me, I was picturing a middle aged, dark haired, tall woman that was a little all over the place. Kind of like your silly aunt (we all have one), that likes to mix decorations from different cultures in their homes.

Well, that’s not A’s mom. Ms. G in fact is a lovely and friendly lady with blonde hair, about 5 foot 4, very well organized and planned through. She welcomed me with open arms, which in fact meant open arms and a hug. Again, my family doesn’t hug. It’s not that they are not friendly or not welcoming, it’s just that they do not hug upon meeting someone for the first time.

Ms. G served a lovely dinner in all kinds of colors, she explained why the selected courses worked so well together and why she picked this particular meal. A didn’t wait for her to finish the story, he just dug in deep and ate as he hasn’t eaten in months. Later that afternoon, still while eating dinner, A’s brother C dropped by. Now from A’s stories, I imagined a young vivid guy, lots of energy, loud as only a Greek can be and very lovable. And that’s exactly what C was. He marched into Ms. G’s house, with lots of energy, telling us the news of the day. Meanwhile I pushed my plate aside and listened with big eyes to what he had to say. After a few minutes, he stood in between A and me, eyeballing the wonderful meal we just enjoyed. In fact so wonderful, if I could have, I would have eaten all, but I couldn’t so there were still leftovers on my plate.

I guess C thought that the plate in between A and me was A’s plate. So I watched him slowly picking a few leftovers from my plate and I was stunned. Seriously, who does that? After a while I asked him if he needed a chair and a fork, I’d be happy to get him one, so he could finish my meal. He looked from A to the plate to me and realized that what he had been nibbling off, was his brother’s girlfriend’s plate, who he only just met.

Needless to say, that C, being a lovable guy, just apologized and went on, as if nothing ever happened.

A few months later A and I were invited to C’s wedding at the beachhouse. C told me how nervous and excited he was, how he couldn’t wait to say, ‘I do’ and how he couldn’t wait for the wedding party. It was a beautiful ceremony at the beach and we all had some tears in our eyes. After the vows, the obligatory walk at the beach and picture taking, the wedding party moved into the house to enjoy the wonderful meal.  It was a small wedding, so we all sat on one long table. I was seated across from the groom and A and between A’s uncle and A’s dad, who I only met this day for the very first time.

A’s dad is Greek, which is where A’s and C’s loudness comes from. No point in trying to deny it, Greek’s are loud and welcoming and friendly and laid back but most of all loving but more on that later.

Anyways, so at the wedding party, they served salmon. When I grew up, my mom scared me for live by cooking fish at home. Being from the Philippines, this is something you do all the time but having a very sensitive sense of smell, the smell of fish nauseates me, in fact so bad, that I have up to the year 2011 never eaten a fish. Needless to say that I wasn’t able to enjoy the main course, so I left my plate in front of me and nibbled on the side dishes. C was aware of my non existent fondness of fish and after finishing his plate, it only took him a minute to ask, “You don’t eat that anymore, right?” Before I knew it, he had my salmon finished and I was again stunned.

Now C doesn’t do that to anyone, only to people he really likes, which is lucky for me, I guess. That moment I knew though that I was accepted by C and that in fact I was part of his family already and that sharing meals with C actually meant, to share meals…

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