Traditions are so comforting and the events connected to them eagerly anticipated. Nine years ago a friend from school invited a dining room table full of co-workers for dinner on a Saturday night. The twist to this invite was that her husband was going to do all the preparing, cooking and clean up. Many around the table were at that time either single, still immersed in the dating scene, newly married, or with little babies. I, being the eldest member of the group was well beyond all those stages (That statement makes me feel even older!)
Anticipation for this night has always been heightened by the tight security of the awaiting menu for the weeks leading up the awaited Saturday evening. Despite promised bribes, it is kept a mystery until we walk through the door. We have never been disappointed!
Last night we celebrated the ninth year of this March event. We shared hello hugs and greetings and swiftly glided to the refrigerator where our menu, complete with pictures, was posted.
The meal was one that could rival any four-star restaurant. An enormous seafood paella was placed on the table to our open mouths of awe. Chunks of lobster, shrimp, scallops and chorizo lay atop a bed of perfectly seasoned rice. Peas sprinkled over the top added the finishing touch. At the risk of being rude, I quickly went to get my phone to take a picture of this masterpiece because I knew I'd want to write a slice about it. It was even more delicious than it looked, if that was possible.
Of course there was an amazing dessert to end the meal. Individual lemon creme de brûlées, glazed with a torch, we're topped with fresh raspberries, blackberries and strawberries marinated in a liquor.
This elegant meal was certainly the centerpiece to this evening. Not found on restaurant menus, but at my friend's home, was the opportunity to share our lives. As the meal was being prepared, her young sons were trying to hide from us showing off their youthful exuberance. They weren't a part of this family the first few years that we gathered.
After the hush of our initial eating, the stories about school, family adventures and the history we shared began, accompanied by contagious laughter. I guess you might say that this sharing became the aperitif to the meal. No one moved from their seat at the table not wanting to miss any of the memories being created. Together we started to wistfully look forward to year ten "Ladies Night Out" in 2013!
I am feeling so content this morning as I reflect on the carefully planned and executed meal, enhanced by friendships and shared stories wrapped in tradition.