Time to eat!

The other day, I got to pondering the words we use for meals.  I was on my way to my favorite wine bar where I intended to have an early supper/late lunch and the fact that American’s don’t have a word for that meal got my brain spinning around the ways we talk about dining.

Breakfast, break fast, is just the first food of the day.   A light breakfast is light in weight and doesn’t usually last very long.  Toast, maybe an egg.  Granola.  Hot cereal like oatmeal that you can eat standing up.  A big breakfast has a load of protein and is meant to stick with you.  Frequently there are vegetables, too.  Potatoes in the form of hash browns. Sliced tomatoes in the summer. Onions, peppers and mushrooms in the omelette.  Fruit on egg bread, waffles and pancakes.  A big breakfast isn’t a meal that you grab as you run out the door.

Brunch is a word that means garnish and, frequently, alcohol in your fruit juice.  Brunch is languorous.  It also means I’m not doing anything that takes effort before noon.

Lunch is the middle of the day meal.  Big lunch means you will wish for a nap, later.  Lunch happens anywhere from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Supper is the evening meal.  Dinner is the biggest meal that is not breakfast.  So, lunch or supper could be dinner.   Sunday dinner is almost always lunch.  But, a work day dinner is usually supper.

So, the question that came to my mind was “what is the afternoon equivalent of brunch?”  Turns out, it’s afternoon tea.  My Canadian friends tell me that tea is served around 3:30 or 4:00, there is tea to drink and something light to eat.    We chuckled over a young acquaintance who had fussed at her sister to “eat your tea.”  But, I think I want to adopt that usage.  It’s a handy definition. And while a cream tea is one that includes jam and clotted cream in the snacks, I think a wine tea may become my occasional earlier-than-supper afternoon meal.

And, according to my English friend, high tea is a heavy meal served as workers come in from their labors ready for serious eats.  I expect it comes from afternoon tea that waited a little too long and needed to be more filling since you were ravenous by the time you finally got have food.

Another word I am going to adopt is “fika.” It is a Swedish word and it means to have coffee and a bite and a chat with friends.  It is a thing I love and now have a word for.  It is not time specific.  It is activity specific and it an activity I enjoy immensely.


Addendum:

I learned another meal word from my Spanish friend.   “In Spain, there is an actual meal between lunch (which for them is always the largest meal of the day), and dinner, which is a lunch-sized portion late in the day, like 8 or 9 pm. I was always offered this meal, each day, even in the hospital! “Merienda”. It corresponds to the “tea” idea, but without mentioning tea. Coffee or tea might be offered, or beer or wine, and deli slices, bread, cookies, fruit. Oh, it happened around 5 pm. Very confusing.”

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Names

My friend has a son who is 10. I have been in a room with him. But, we haven’t actually been introduced other than “This is my friend, Kitty.” directed to his grandmother, who was in the room at the same time. I have no clue what he is expected to call me. It will be interesting to see if he ever actually calls me by name.

When I was growing up, I had an Aunt Nel and Uncle Carl who weren’t actually related. But, they have known me since I was a year old and are still good friends of my mother. I, also, had Mr. Jim, Mr. George and Miss Esther, who were friends of my grandparents. Also, no actual genetic connection. But, close enough not to require the formality of last names.

An African-American friend once told me that her parents taught her never to Miss This or Mr. That to anyone because it was a slave time holdover. And I can see that. But, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the names we used for the older family friends. I told Diane about Miss Esther and Aunt Nel and she said “Hm. That’s interesting. I’ll keep it in mind when I hear those used in the future.”

My sister works in a daycare. The children there call all the teachers Miss Firstname. So, my sister is Miss Amanda to her 3 and 4 year olds. I’m not sure why the school chooses to do that. It is surely no more difficult to say than Miz Whoever.

Because I am called “Kitty” (birth certificate says “Katherine”), I get the extra silliness of Miss Kitty. If you are of a certain age in America, you watched Gunsmoke on TV. Miss Kitty was the madam working at the saloon in Dodge City. Even the director of my department at work adds that superlative to my name. And that feels odd. “Miss Kitty” from someone under the age of 20 would fit my family’s traditions. But, from people my own age or older, it is just peculiar.

RiverRun 2017

Additional addendum:  I’m very excited! We are going to see a bunch of movies at the RiverRun Film Festival in Winston-Salem. We have tickets for 8 feature films and 2 shorts collections. And our AirBnB hostess has given us tickets to the gala Friday night. Hotcha!

Thursday 3/30

Lost in Paris “Fiona visits Paris for the first time to assist her myopic Aunt Martha. Catastrophes ensue, mainly involving Dom, a homeless man who has yet to have an emotion or thought he was afraid of expressing.”

Friday 3/31

Little Wing “Little Wing tells the story of 12-year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog), who’s quickly growing to adulthood, and about her mother (Paula Vesala), who doesn’t want to grow up.”

I Am Cuba.  “This sprawling vision of Cuba from 1964 was poorly received upon release and largely forgotten until the 1990s, when directors like Martin Scorsese pushed for its restoration. Alternatingly dreamlike and neo-realist, I Am Cuba attempts to characterize the Cuban revolution and the suffering of its citizens through an anthology of four varied vignettes.”

Our AirBnB hostess has given us tickets to the Gala.

Saturday 4/1

Pushing Dead, “When a struggling writer, HIV positive for 20+ years, accidentally deposits a $100 birthday check, he is dropped from his health plan for earning too much.”

Documentary Shorts 1

Strange Weather. “A poignant, lyrical drama about a mother (Holly Hunter), who, in an effort to deal with the grief over the death of her son, travels the back roads of the deep south to settle a score.”

Sunday 4/2

Cuban Shorts

Sacred. “Møre than 40 filmmakers travelled the globe to witness religious celebrations and interview people from all sorts of background.”

Thursday 4/6

First Lady of the Revolution  “the remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, a Southern belle who takes a life-altering journey through marriage, civil war and audacious democratic reforms to become the First Lady of Costa Rica.”

Frantz. “In the aftermath of WWI, a young German who grieves the death of her fiancé in France meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé’s grave to lay flowers.”

My son will be house/cat sitting on the weekend.

Addendum 4/3:

After seeing I am Cuba and the Cuban shorts, Chuck was intrigued by the other films in the Cuban series.  So, he’s going back while I’m working on Saturday, 4/8 to see Memories of Underdevelopment and, since he’ll be there anyway,  Purple Dreams.

Additional Addendum 4/17:

We both got sick and neither of us returned to see the Thursday or Saturday films.

Artichokes

When I was 14 or 15, a frequent habit in my family was to go to church on Sunday and then have our big meal, usually in the dining room instead or the breakfast nook off the kitchen. It wasn’t always a huge feast that my mother had spent hours over, just the biggest meal that was getting fixed that day. It could very well be chicken salad and pimento cheese with choices of bread or crackers and some chips.

But, one Sunday when we came home, she got stirring around in the kitchen and shooed me out when I came to help. I didn’t argue. I didn’t get let off that hook very often.

After a while she called us into the dining room, where there was nothing on the table except napkins, some silverware and glasses of tea. She was clearly pleased without herself as she told us to sit down and whisked into the kitchen.

She came back with salad plates holding steamed artichokes. And she brought little dishes of melted lemon butter.

We were baffled. She sat down and showed us how to gently pull the leaves off and scrape the tasty bits off with our teeth. My sisters and I had a blast dipping in the butter. My parents seemed to think it was fun to enjoy their artichokes and to watch us having a big time. Eventually, we got down to the choke. She showed us how to scrape off the fuzzy part and cut the heart into bite sized pieces to eat the best of the artichoke.

When we had all finished, she whisked the plates and artichoke debris off the table and banged around in the kitchen for a couple of minutes. Then she brought in bowls of Campbell’s soup and a plate of peanut butter and honey or jelly sandwiches (which was a fairly usual lunch for us).

I looked at my soup and said,”I’m not complaining about the meal. Soup and sandwiches is great. But, it’s kind of anticlimactic after the artichokes.”

She almost looked sheepish and said, “I rarely see fresh artichokes at the grocery and when I do they usually only have 2 or 3. The other day they had 5! One for each of us. So, I got ’em. And if you ever find yourselves faced with one, you’ll know what to do with it.”

So, that’s my mother.

RiverRun 2016

Monday 4/11

My Friend’s Rubber Ducky  “In a tipsy fit, Joseph kidnaps an old friend who owes him $5,000, enlisting the aide of his hipster girlfriend and stoner roommate.”  This was hilarious.  Pot, tai chi and a kidnapping. Everyone involved did an excellent job.

Jacqueline (Argentine)  “This mockumentary follows an unnamed director and narrator (Wyatt Cenac) down to Argentina, where he’s filming Jacqueline, who claims to be blowing the whistle on a plot to assassinate an Arab politician.” Didn’t live up to my hopes.  The title character came off as a flake rather than an international woman of mystery.  And, if it was meant to be funny, it failed.

Francofonia “A history of the Louvre during the Nazi occupation and a meditation on the meaning and timelessness of art.” This was wonderful.  When it is available, I will watch it again.

Tuesday 4/12

Salero “When the future arrives to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, one of the most secluded places on the planet, the destiny of this ancient salt flat is unearthed and one young salt gatherer becomes the last link between the old world and the new.”  We were moved.  It was thought provoking.

Thursday 4/14

Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers “…follows three women in an all female, predominantly Muslim unit of police officers sent to post-earthquake Haiti as UN Peacekeepers for one year. The mission challenges these women while shattering commonly held stereotypes.”  We liked this a lot.   Geeta Gandbhir and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are names we should remember when looking for documentaries.

Cameraperson “Exposing her role behind the camera, Kirsten Johnson reaches into the vast trove of footage she has shot over decades around the world. What emerges is a visually bold memoir and a revelatory interrogation of the power of the camera.”  This was an interesting memoir.

(Dinner at Willow’s Bistro with 3 Sextons)

Friday 4/15

Heavenly Nomadic “A family of nomads live in the high, remote mountains of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia…”  This is slow and lyrical.  I enjoyed it very much.

Chevalier “In the middle of the Aegean Sea, six men on a fishing trip on a luxury yacht decide to play a game. During this game, things will be compared. Things will be measured. Songs will be butchered, and blood will be tested. Friends will become rivals and rivals will become hungry. But at the end of the journey, when the game is over, the man who wins will be the best man. And he will wear on his smallest finger the victory ring: the Chevalier.”  This was very funny.

NC Shorts 1  (Oops.)

Tomato sandwiches

My husband is from West Virginia and he says he never heard of anyone eating plain tomato sandwiches until he moved South.

I find that astonishing.

I come from a place where people argue about the correct condiment for a tomato sandwich. Duke’s mayonnaise or Hellmann’s? Or are you a complete heathen and use Miracle Whip? Is pepper too much of an addition?

For those not from around here, Miracle Whip is “salad dressing,” which is mayonnaise with added sugar. Southern cooks are infamous for adding a pinch of sugar to just about everything and this is a commercial variation on that theme. I loved it when I was a child but lost my taste for it 20 or 30 years ago.

Some friends and I had a conversation about tomato sandwiches, recently. I was amused to hear the voices from the Midwest and Northeast talking about tomato sandwiches with bacon, smoked turkey, cheese or other plants like mushrooms, avocados or onions.

No.

Just, no.

That is not a tomato sandwich. That is a turkey sandwich with tomato. Or a BLT. Or a vegetable sandwich. Or a cheese and tomato sandwich. All delicious and delightful. But, NOT a tomato sandwich.

I acknowledge that to purists, the occasional sprouts and celery salt I enjoy are pushing the envelope. So is mayo made with basil infused olive oil. While they are very tasty, they are treading the razor’s edge where a tomato sandwich becomes Something Else.

If you are from some other part of the world, pick (from a garden, not a grocery bin) a tomato that slices like this:

DSC03089

A small one that requires several slices to cover the bread is fine, but this is a perfect sandwich tomato, minus the center cut I just ate.

Your bread may be toasted or not, mayo on one or both sides, salt and pepper are optional. You will need to stand over the sink to eat it because the tomato juice will drip from a truly ripe fruit.

THAT is the flavor of a Southern summer.