I woke with a slight headache after sleeping with wet hair and an open window. A dull grey light showed the empty desktops in the next room. The furniture hadn’t all been put back into place after our rearranging for guests, although my husband had washed and I had dried and put away the stacks of dishes. In the kitchen the blossoms on two bunches of tulips—one white and the other pale pink—had begun to open. The strong pattern of the blue shamrocks on the white porcelain pitcher somehow complimented the delicate colors.
A.S., a friend, had brought them on Friday evening along with some thinly sliced salami and a bottle of peppery extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joes. K. and M., our upstairs neighbors, had carried down a bowl of popcorn, a plate with almond crackers and white cheese, and a bottle of truffle-flavored olive oil. A. and J., the final guests—a cellist and a young philosopher from church and the seminary, contributed scones, a loaf of Italian bread, a container of gourmet mixed olives, and a small clear glass bottle of pesto-flavored olive oil from a local shop.
As we continue to work at developing friendships, I think back on fine evenings with friends in Minnesota. Our group, “Gravitas”, will never be replaced, but it is no wrong to try to start something similar here in Pennsylvania. Here, rather than topics relating to theology, visual art, music, or literature, our theme is tasting: food. Each guest brings a different variety of the specified product for the month. We try to describe the appearance, the aroma, flavor, texture, and finish. Individual’s observations are penciled onto grids before being shared with the group. Next, we enjoy foods that pair well with the product to create a meal. A variety of desserts served with small cups of hot tea complete the experience. This time we had a basket of red grapes, and a plate with dark chocolate, swirled macaroons, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and sugar-sprinkled miniature scones. When we were done trying to choose adjectives that described each olive oil, the conversation shifted to tastes in other areas. Although we didn’t all agree on answers to some questions that came up, there was much thinking out loud. At the end of the evening we knew each other better and had questions on which to continue meditating.