Easter lunch with grandmother
Suddenly they were there, in front of me. Two women, mother and daughter. I knew them, and I quickly tried to figure out of what, how, who and where. The older of the two has a powerful twinkle in her eyes.
Oh yes of course! They had lunch here once, years ago. That was the first time that we had a group for a vegetarian lunch.
We do not have a restaurant. We do cook for people – often enough! Always by appointment. Specially for vegetarians, it’s hard to find something in this neighborhood. In a “normal” restaurant you are often presented with an omelet. And there is so much more to vegetarian food!
We had a chat, and they asked if they could book again for lunch. With Easter. Yes, of course, fine! It was a nice group of people, I remember, so yes, nice, welcome.
Com muito prazer.
A precious hour
I completely forgot about the changing of the time – one hour less. Oops! Buckle up!
Cut the eggplant and put in salt with a stack of plates on it.
Dough – must rise. Chocolate mousse – should stiffen.
All those things should be done first.
And it seems difficult to plan for (Easter) lunch than for dinner. Funny. Maybe because I do it less often.
They are too early. We’re talking about portuguese people! You can put that in the newspaper, it probably never happened before.
I have, in fact, no time for that, because the sharp schedule leaves little time, happy to be breathing!
It will work, it’s almost ready – keep smiling. They will look around a bit. Fine.
The show is on the road
The table is ready, the appetizer and the wine are there – they can amuse themselves with that, while the spinach quiche starts to show nice round souffle-like curves, the falafelroll is beginning to get a beautiful brown colour, the eggplant moussaka is literally letting off steam, and the couscous is almost done.
I’m the hostess, the chef, the dishwasher, the sommelier and the waiter. Check, check, check, check. Everything is ready. A deep breath and there we go!
I can’t see anything, but by the sound of it, everything is good. At first it’s quiet, then the talking and the laughing starts. That’s a good sign – most people are happy with good food. Always nice when your efforts are appreciated.
After dessert and coffee the grandmother came in the kitchen to settle the bill.
As older people can do, you’re suddenly in the middle of a story. I have yet to learn how it works, I’m not old enough, I guess. But it’s nice to hear, that is to say …. nice …. it’s a story about the war.
Portugal has not participated in the Second World War, but it was close.
In Lisbon, where the grandmother lived as a young girl, everything had to be dark at night.
Imagine, an entire city in the dark, with only the searchlights across the sky. And everything quiet. I had never really thought about how that is.
Her story was not very spectacular, but I looked through her eyes and memories back to that time. How strange it is that a whole city is dark and silent, as if all beings hold their breath and wait for what’s coming.
One night, there was a kind of procession, a group of people who walked through the quiet streets with a few tiny candles, and they sang:
Miraculosa Rainha dos ceus………………….Miraculous Queen of Heaven
Sobre o teu tecido manto de luz……………..With your cloak made of light
Faz com que acaba a guerra na terra………..Make an ending to this war on earth
Baja que entre os homens a paz de Jesus…..Let the peace of Jesus descend
I saw them walking. I heard them singing. That must have been beautiful. Goosebumps-beautiful.
Grandmother is 84 and follow the news. Says things like: “You’d think people have learned something, after all this misery, but it now it seems to go the same way.”
“There are enough wise people around to avoid that it gets out of hand?” I reply hopefully.
Let’s hope for that, but she has her doubts.
In spite of the beautiful story she presented me with, I hope that such a procession is no longer needed. Because we’ve listened more to what our grandmothers have to say.