Thursday, July 12, 2007

a proper lunch

We are firm believers in a proper lunch. I'm sure it started years ago: a combination of living abroad and getting used to the mid-day break of good food and good wine mixed with the fact that we work five nights out of every week, so lunch becomes our sacred meal of the day. We eat dinner very late, after service at the restaurant when we all sit down together. It's a great dinner with discussion about the evening's work which eventually moves on to other conversation. We often taste new wines, or try a wine from the wine list to see how the bottle is currently drinking. We eat well. But we also know our evening is not done. There is still clean-up. There are glasses to be polished, silverware to be wiped down, bread to be made, floors to be swept. It is a working dinner with another hour or so of labor still ahead.

Two to three days out of the week, we also eat lunch at work. We try new dishes, or just want to be there to get a jump on the evening ahead. On Saturdays and Sundays, we eat lunch at home. This is when we truly indulge in what we consider a "proper lunch." Even though we still must go into work after we eat, we pay attention to the meal that we prepare and spend an hour--and if we are lucky more than that--relaxing and enjoying the results of our efforts. We make a point of setting aside the time. And on our days off? The best is when lunch is followed by reading and a nap as was the case Wednesday. After a morning of work in the new garden and in the humid fug of midsummer, precisely at noon, thunder rumbled, and lightening flashed. A wall of rain came our way, and lasted the rest of the day and evening (we have been plagued by rainy and volatile weather this past week.) A perfect reason to come in out of the deluge and pour a glass of wine and think about lunch.

We have been reading Richard Olney's Simple French Food, a terrific discussion on the cuisine of la bonne femme, the good woman, or the good wife. In Italian, we call it la cucina casareccia--the housewife's kitchen, or the housewife's cooking. Essentially the same translation out of the two languages. We chose a couple of dishes from the Olney book to prepare for Wednesday lunch: scrambled eggs with tomatoes and basil and leeks topped with a vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, hadboiled egg, and olive oil. We added fresh melon to our plates. As we had forgotten to bring home prosciutto, we opted for little fried bits of pancetta and sprinkled them over the fruit. We finished with fresh cherries and a raw milk blue. We drank a refreshing white from the highplains of the Veneto, a blend of pinot grigio and white tocai(not the Hungarian tokay, or the Alsation, but a varietal truly known as savignon verte and called tocai as that is the dialect name for the small glass it is served in the Friuli.)

Sleepy and full, we found our way to different couches, spread out with our current books, and read until our eyes drooped and we felt asleep to the sound of the rain on the roof.

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