Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family dinner.

There was a moment last night at the "family dinner" at Delancey.

Looking down the table of candles, wine glasses, and smiling faces, I focused in on a young woman and her grandmother, and three narratives of "family" converged.

I cried. Actual, surprising, unexpected tears.

Families of origin: mirrored there in the love Gina and Elsie--their names, I found out later--shared with each other. Elsie was, by far, the oldest person there, and Gina was proud to have her grandmother on her arm. Elsie claimed she was having an "adventure" and Gina assured us Elsie would adopt us all, gladly. We believed her. We loved her. We were glad she was there. We thought of our own grandmothers.

Families of choice: a table of people who love food, love life, will fall on a plate of wood-fire crisped bread and homemade butter as if it were the last meal on earth. Who will photograph it, tweet it, commit it to the mind's autograph book. "We were here. We were fed. We were sustained." These are my people.

Families of affinity: Brandon and Molly have created a space where people want to be. They make beautiful food, day in and day out. But last night, they turned the apron over to their sous-chef, Charlie. A few months into the life of the restaurant, they put their sous-chef front and center and gave him the freedom (and the support and muscle and sweat, no doubt) to prepare a 4-day rabbit braise. It was a wonderful meal. We clapped and raised our glasses of hot bourbon-spiked apple cider and drank to Charlie's meal. We drank to Brandon and Molly's graciousness. We drank to each other and to all being in love with a candle-twinkled room on a cold, rainy night.

And to Elsie and Gina.

And to oysters slurped in glee.

And to friends who are family.

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