Happy February! (And very Happy Birthday, Marie!!!)
For those of you who don’t know, this is the beginning of my birthday week—well, technically, yesterday was, since that was the day Tim came home with a dozen white, long-stemmed roses and arranged a group of them into a vase by my reading chair, a single in a bud vase on the bathroom vanity, and three sublime beauties on my side of the bed, on the corner table. That means that all day I have been thinking of things to eat. Yes, I know this may seem an odd association to some, but for me, food has always been at the center of any good celebration, particularly my birthday. Come to think of it, maybe my birthday started Saturday? That was the day Tim went to antique stores with me looking for junky, ornate frames of the type someone’s grandmother might have in the hallway, framing a family portrait, (if you come across any good, cheap ones, feel free tosend them my way) and took me to Cupcake Royal for Salted Caramel Royal Chocolate cupcakes and hot chocolate. You know, now that I’m going down this road…I weigh a little more than I would like, especially lately, and I think, “What’s wrong with me? Just lose the weight already!” Really, though, isn’t it amazing that I’m not as big as a house? Think of the culinary delights that this place offers! Salmon, baked with lemon, arugula, and chipotle; oysters, on the half shell in a bed of mascarpone and spinach, baked just so with sourdough focaccia on the side; strawberry balsamic ice cream in a fresh baked waffle cone; Crème Brule that melts in your mouth with the crusty smoothness of a winter sunset; fresh beets, poached in a butter wine bath and served with smoked sea salt; harvest squash bread with hulled pumpkin seeds on top, smoked salmon piroshkis…
The year I turned 16, I was looking forward to being allowed to date and being officially somewhat grown-up, at least enough to drive and have some measure of freedom. There was a terrifying amount of snow on the ground, up to 5 feet at times, and on the day of my birthday, it was 26 degrees below zero. Dad took me to Coffee Traders in Kalispell for my first “date,” and to an art gallery (this has become one of my favorite kids of dates, no matter where in the world I am). Part of the date was symbolism – the daughter being launched into the world. Part of the date was getting me the heck out of the house so my family could throw me a surprise party, and stashing me somewhere out of the cold for the afternoon. When dad and I arrived back at the house there were about 50 cars parked out front (no way to hide that), and about 65 people in the living room and kitchen, which had both been denuded of furniture to accommodate all the guests and to allow room for dancing. I flew up to my room to change into something more appropriate, defaulting to my favorite white corduroy bell bottoms and lime green tank top, accessorizing with a hemp choker and dangle cross earrings (ready to paaar-tay!). Taking the stairs 2 at a time, I arrived back in the kitchen to find that, in honor of my epicurean enthusiasm (or food neurosis, as some call it), my friends had all brought their favorite food. Ranging from fresh baked baklava and samosas, to blue Top Ramen and vanilla ice cream, we had everything any 16 year old could have possibly been craving at the time (or avoiding, as it turned out).
We danced and ate and danced until I fell asleep in a sitting position on the floor of the living room. It was one of my favorite birthdays ever, and was an extension of my existing food connection with birthdays. Since then food has been an intimate part of my birthday celebrations every year, whether to celebrate with a crowd or console myself after spending the day lonely and forgotten.
What is your favorite food? Where do you like to go for your birthday dinner? What should we have this year!?