Tuesday, March 8, 2011

America Never Dies

Some holidays are not meant to be enjoyed. Yesterday was my choice du jour. Green Monday for those of you still unripe bananas in the art of sin or Clean Monday for those who have been bestowed by the heavens with the DNA makeup of a saint. In any case, it marks the day you are supposed to stop sinning (not if you never have, oh holy ones) and give up those foods which, when push comes to shove, are the most delicious. Say bye-bye to steak, cheese, omelets and rich eclairs.

Most years we end up in an unkempt plot of land by the beach eating greens like famished cattle and grilled seafood (no fishiness, mind you) on paper plates and with dull plastic cutlery. After lunch, the children clumsily try to fly polychromatic kites with their patient fathers or uncles as Master and Commander of the Wind, only to get frustrated as the fluttering diamonds crash onto the rough terrain for the umpteenth time. Now officially bored, the kids run off like an excited troop of monkeys to kick a football among the brush while their mothers pray there are no sprained ankles or bloodied knees. The restroom is over some weeds behind a largish fig tree and the only electricity available comes either from a portable generator or one of the pick-up truck's cigarette lighter receptacle. The trucks or jeeps or Hummers (for the posher yet more wasteful families) are essential to carry the folding chairs and tables, ice boxes, grills, disposable china and produce needed to give the luncheon a small semblance of civility. Beer is poured and wine bottles are uncorked yet for some reason the roughshod set-up, cornucopia of vegetables and dearth of dairy always put me in a finicky mood.

For a change, this year we stayed in Nicosia and enacted this lavish festivity in The Wife, Ph.D.'s godparents' backyard. The kitchen counter and dining table resembled a cross between a colorful stand in a farmer's market and your fishmonger's latest wet dream involving mollusks. I would love to list all the bulbs and leaves and seeds and nuts and fungi and maritime beasts available for the malnourishment of the guests but I fear that would read like a mean judge's sentence for a carnivore who refused to eat his green beans. Obviously, since I am an amateur chef, I chose to actively participate in the soiree by cooking up some mussels a la Provencale and stuffing my face with Russian caviar and chunks of bread generously spread with taramosalata, or what I have anointed as Poseidon's elixir. Despite my healthy servings of fish roe and The Wife, Ph.D.'s dexterity in peeling my shrimps, I still felt like I lost three kilograms just from sorely missing "real" food.

Luckily enough, wine has not (yet) been forbidden by the church on this day so we all drank merrily, some of us probably just enough to tie us down until we flew past the No-Ribeye Zone. I shared a bottle of the 2007 Santowines Grand Reserve Assyrtiko with the crowds and then opened a 2009 Moulin de Gassac's Guilhem, a bombastic and fruity Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault blend from Languedoc Roussillon that for roughly five Euros is worth guzzling down.

As I served myself a fourth glass of wine, the pain within my empty stomach failing to subside, I heard The Wife, Ph.D.'s communist uncle exclaim (in a voice vaguely reminiscent of a born-and-bred Texan, Oklahoman or Alabaman patriot) that "America never dies!" I shook my head in dismay, wrote down the phrase on my notepad and understood then and there that turning back was no longer an option. To be honest with you, not even the arrival of a twenty-five thousand liter Petrolina tank truck filled with a First Growth Bordeaux for the masses would have salvaged the day. Just imagine my predicament: stuck on The Rock masquerading as a pescetarian for the day with the commies praising the good old USA. Damn. Lights. Out.

2 comments:

El Canuque said...

Maybe not dead, but perhaps checked into the asylum with the greedy relatives ready to cash in on the inheritance.

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