Tonight I had a small dinner party for my sister and brother in law, Aniko and Gyuri who live nearby, and my bil Franz who lives in Germany. My son Andy was there too, and Alice, Mike, Nathan and Stephen came over for dessert. I did invite them for dinner too, but they thought they couldn’t make it.
In Hungarian a common greeting is “Isten Hozott” which means “God brought you”! And guest used to be called a “szent vendeg”, which means not only a guest but a holy guest. Hospitality is a fine and heart felt art which I have not been practicing for too long.
Of course I didn’t think about my camera until the actual dinner was over and we were beginning dessert! And then, I was quickly distracted from photography to conversation.
Feri is a vegetarian and so is my son Andy, so we had a simple vegetarian meal. I baked a large vegetable pot pie (with onion, carrots, celery, Portabella mushrooms (with the gills removed – a tip from the Food Wishes blog), parsley, yellow wax beans, and green peas and a quite simple bechamel sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley, marjoram and Parisian Bonnes Herbs from Penzey’s – http://www.penzeys.com/) which turned out quite well, and I served only creamed spinach and pickled beets as side dishes to the main course. The menu sounds like an acknowledgement that the weather is changing to something quite a bit cooler these days! Andy brought out one of the jars of pickles he made earlier and presented it to Aniko, my sister in law. We talked about things we used to make or can and no longer do. Aniko made a wonderful pickle consisting of Hungarian medium hot block peppers stuffed with finely shredded cabbage and seasoned with mustard seed and (sometimes) tiny hot peppers, salt and a very small amount of sugar. I miss this and am thinking I should try to make some while I can still get the right peppers.
Being rather lazy, for dessert I bought some small quick breads from the little farm at the end of the road where I buy my eggs. The farmer’s wife bakes her own and sells them from coolers. Sometimes she has fabulous Russian tea cakes, but not today, alas….
I bought instead some mini loaves of zucchini bread and cranberry nut bread. Alice brought some chocolate chip cookies and some far too decadent brownies left over from her party last Saturday. We drank water with the meal, but later some enjoyed a good merlot and some drank herb tea and some had both.
Alice helped me with cleaning on Wednesday and I did a lot of organizing and am now fired with ambition to donate more things to Goodwill. I’ve got to have fewer things! It’s so funny how when we are younger we acquire more and more things we think we need or want, and when we are older we want to get rid of so much of it all.
I was quite amused that part of the dinner conversation was a discussion about our hearing, how bad it was, when we first realized we had a problem, etc. I remember in 1992 when Paul and I took his mother to visit her cousin Ditke and they discussed health issues the entire time. (How are your legs? How is your stomach, how are your eyes, do you hear well? And more of the same.)
Well, they were both 90 years old at the time, but we swore we would never reach this state of decripitude! Right!
Now Paul has been gone for nearly five years and I am thinking I should perhaps ask to have my hearing tested at my next appointment with my doctor. But actually, I think I will wait a while. It’s not such a problem yet. When my mother in law was my age she still had three more years of teaching sixth grade before retiring.
Tomorrow Franz or Feri (it sounds almost like Fedi with the trilled r) as he is called in the family flies back to Frankfurt where someone will meet him and drive him to the retreat house in Gries, near Coburg and even closer to Kronach if you have a map. I asked him if he would rest a little now after his long journey, but learned that the day after he returns he will begin a new retreat. He is 85 years old, and I wish I had his energy. I remember when his mother (who lived to be 104) was 85, and would manage my vegetable garden which she had to drive a half and hour each way to get to, and harvest it, and box it up and send it to us in the summer with whichever relative was coming to visit us at Chautauqua. His 86 year old sister in Budapest still gets up sometimes at 6am to attend political rallies.
The conversation was excellent and lasted til almost ten o’clock. I was sad when they left because I know there is a good chance that I may never see Feri again. I don’t go to Europe that often and he doesn’t come to the States more than once a decade or so. And what does that mean when one is 85? He is such a special person, full of wisdom and kindness and a decided twinkle in his eye. His sense of humor reminds me of Paul’s.
And later I came upstairs to the computer and read Alice’s comment on facebook, “Nothing like coming home from dinner to find that in a moment before leaving, your two year-old closed the drain and started the water in your sink! Good thing it was above the unfinished side of the basement….”
Life is so interesting, isn’t it.