On Friday I cooked all day. Till the last frenzied cold shower and candle lighting I cooked – the way I always do. Only a few days before the big “S” yet the need to cook and entertain and nurture in our home is still strong. So on Friday I cooked my heart out, for all the years I have always cooked, as a salute to the many, many good meals we have eaten in this house, to the many guests we have had around our table. And also to store up in myself, the memory of that cooking, for the months that will lie ahead. I made in no particular order; chicken soup, plum tart in a short-crust pastry, shepherd’s pie, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, roast chicken in marinade, roast potatoes, whole wheat couscous, zucchini sautéed with onion and herbs, chocolate mousse, an orange-honey turkey breast, smoked salmon pate, fried rings of eggplant in olive oil and garlic, and adamame with coarse salt. On Shabbat I ditched shul and communed with God in the kitchen: fresh fruit salad made with slices of peaches, plums, apples, oranges and grapes in a triple-sec syrup; tomato, olive and palm hearts salad; green-cabbage coleslaw hand- cut with and a mayo/paprika/garlic-salt dressing.
A Shabbat worth cooking for, with Yonatan, Shira and Moriyah home for Shabbat, some journalist friends around for “tea” in the afternoon, and our dear Leonie and Chaim with us in the evening for a “LeChayim” over beautiful Shani’s engagement. New friends and old to take the sting out of our lives, to make us ache less.
Late, Aryeh and I watched the very last of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Return of the King”. I am convulsed with weeping as I write this silly line, so the waitresses at Café Ithamar where I’m writing this, stand over at the cash till and whisper to each other. One of them approaches and says gently: “Hakol beseder?” meaning not the usual “is the food okay?” but “are you okay?” I can’t answer so she walks carefully away, as if from a dead bird or a hospital patient, casting one concerned glance over her shoulder. To explain to her the goodbyes to all the precious, precious things that have been shared over the years? I think not.
The Return of the King. Watching it, I come to understand what all my friends have already told me; that things will probably get a lot worse before they get better. And then maybe, once the ring has been cast into the flames, maybe things will get better quite quickly and drastically. But maybe not. Maybe I‘ll have to give up breakfast at Café Ithamar for years. Maybe I won’t be able to afford having a regular leg wax. I haven’t had hairy legs since I was sixteen.