Christmas 2007 With The Philosopher King & Henry JamesTuesday, December 25, 2007
Even though it was only the second time that Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick spent Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) with us it has become what feels like a long-time and pleasant custom. Abraham was late and Lauren kept asking,"Where's Abraham? When is he coming?"
There were two mutual conditions for his coming. On the one hand we told him not to bring anything (last year he spent a fortune in presents for everybody) and for my part I had to make sure that whatever I offered Abraham for dinner had no traces of onion. Many years ago Abraham found out about his allergy to onions while in a bus on mainland China.
Our menu was a salad of sliced tomatoes, fresh bocconcini and fresh basil, steamed carrots, green beans and white rice. Our main course was what I would call a two-front course. Rosemary put a chicken that Ale brought from Lillooet in the oven and I cooked tenderloin beef shish-kabobs. I made one without onions. To drink some had ginger ale and others an Argentine Malbec.
It was the dessert that was the success. When we first came to Vancouver I photographed a French-Canadian soprano (she was very tiny and very pretty) Ginette Duplessis who invited us to her house for dinner. Here is the recipe for her Pernod Pairs Flambé which were particularly enjoyed by Abraham.
Half, peel pairs.
Melt 1/4 cup butter / bubble not brown.
Put pears in, caramelize
2 oz Pernod
Fire it / let it burn till fire goes out.
Put in three tablespoons berry sugar.
Low temperature - add one cup of heavy whipping cream.
Put high to mix well.
I personally cannot stand Pernod or anything with a licorice taste. But the fired Pernod and the cream go through some sort of chemical change and the result is delicious. This morning I had what was left for breakfast with some very strong Indian cardamom tea.
Our other guest was Carlos Zamora Arcaraz whom we have known since he was born 32 years ago im Mexico City. His parents and his three sisters have been our friends since both our families moved to Arboledas, Estado de Mexico in 1971. Our daughters have ketp in touch traveling to Mexico and Carlos and his sisters coming to stay with us in Vancouver. This time around, Carlos (below left), who is a heavy duty star-salesman for HP Computers in Monterrey, Mexico had to balance pleasure with work involving his cellular phone and his laptop.
Abraham circumvented the not bringing anything by doing origami animals and origami Christmas ornaments for our tree. Since Abraham is an expert on Venice my gift to him was a photograph of a Venetian gondola that was purchased and restored by the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Abraham knew everything about the boat (he almost bought it) that in a travesty of Vancouver provincialism was almost converted into a gelato stand!
Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick (the Harvard trained architect) that I would compare to an almost all-knowing philosopher king (particularly on anything related to Venice) is traveling with Mayor Sam Sullivan and partner Lynn Zanatta on boxing day for a 6-day tour of Venice. In a way Sullivan's Beatrice will be Lynn as Abraham will read sections of Dante Alighieri's Commedia in Italian in previously selected spots in the city.
Abraham was most interested in my copy of Henry James's Italian Hours which he eventually took home to read while forgetting his Venetian gondola photograph. He could not remember the name of the palazzo where James had stayed in Venice. We found it here and it is called Palazzo Barbaro.
I do believe that in some way this trip to Venice will be a turning point for our mayor and I hope that it is all for the better of our city. Sullivan will have the best of company and we can only be happy that we shared with Abraham (85) another memorable nochebuena.
It is appropriate that Lauren and I appear last here. I was tickling Rebecca and Lauren (who is always there to defend her sister) swung back (for more momentum and force) with a crystal necklace (given to her by Hilary) in her hand and struck me in the forehead. I momentarily blacked out and quickly discovered I was bleeding. Today I have a painful chichón (bump) and cut and the realization that I am lucky that Hilary did not give Lauren a pen for Christmas. It all brought memories of Deborah Kerr being hounded by a couple of demonic children (similar to Lauren, perhaps?) in the 1961 film The Innocents based on Henry James's story The Turn of the Screw.