BY MARCUS DAY
Let us unite in praise of fabulous food. Let us toast occasional indulgence.
After all, the dreamy sensation following a sumptuous meal, when every part of your being feels pampered and spoilt, is hard to top.
I experienced such feelings last Thursday night. Where, how, why — those kinds of details can sit back while I recall the components of my feast in order of consumption, using the exuberant language favoured by culinary commentators and writers the world over.
If you begin to get hunger pangs … you will need to frequent the finest restaurant in the land to ease your suffering. Even that might not suffice.
First up – or down, you could say – was the king of beef cuts: prime rib roast. As Tom and Louis carved, their implements slipped through the meat with the merest application of pressure. Two slices sat on the throne of my plate, demanding feudal allegiance from everything around it. Is anything more majestic than beef? So succulent and juicy, its buttery perfection dissolved almost instantly in my mouth. No gristle, no bones. No teeth grinding required.
Beside the beef knelt the courtiers, knowing their place, yet full of self-awareness, coaxing my fork towards their understated charms: potatoes – gently roasted or mashed – a dazzling array of salads, cherry tomatoes and garlic bread.
As I write, I have a transparent plastic container on my desk reminding me of the evening; in one compartment is leftover Greek salad, in the other wheat salad. Let me break off from this column to scoop some more wheat salad.
Oh my, is that vanilla that fills my mouth with the joy of ice cream? Truly, these are my salad days, this is my salad heaven.
Hungry yet? I think I am. My stomach doth protest, methinks.
Let’s hasten on to dessert, for I’m not sure I can do this much longer.
How about a game? Guess what I’m referring to: it’s fluffy, tender and lathered in pale yellow cream. It’s unashamedly decadent in appearance, yet surprisingly light and divine to taste.
Enough clues? Well, the answer is … angel food cake. Ambrosia to my stomach.
Here’s something else to guess: purest bliss. Dreamy. Silky and lush. Rich, dense, a creamy treat like no other.
No idea? Well, pay homage to the ultimate culinary delight: cheesecake, richly layered with berries and syrup.
Are your hunger pangs getting too much to bear? Mine are, and I think I’m through with flowery – or could that be floury? – descriptions, so let me get on to the where, how and why.
I was at the Senior’s Centre at 103 Cypress Street for a Seniors Valentine’s Day bash, a fundraiser to help replace the crumbling steps on the south side of the building. About 65 people showed, taking their place at tables clothed appropriately in red.
My original intention was to take a photograph or two, say something polite, nod, shake a few hands and depart. Yet I became drawn into the event and, before I realized it, four or five hours had slipped by. This often happens in Maple Creek.
Okay, okay, I confess: I never need much persuading to stay to dinner, for food is one of the perks of my trade. In lieu of a salary, some might argue.
And, as I think I’ve made clear, what wonderful food it was. Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made for my palate. It was like a second Christmas, but without the turkey. It even had an extra festive feel, for midway through proceedings we celebrated Margie Chisholm’s birthday.
I know Margie from my daily visits to the Hi Kick. Now I know her name. And the date of her birthday. I hope you had a great day, Margie!
After the dining was over some people said their goodbyes and left, some played a card game called court whist, and others sat about enjoying a quiet drink.
I was one of the quiet drinkers. Then I did something I haven’t done in ages … helped with the washing and drying up.
Yes, that’s right, I was useful. So much of what I do is worryingly nebulous, that it was good for my soul to perform a task that tangibly benefits others. At least I have something extra on my record should I get to the Pearly Gates.
“It makes you feel important, doesn’t it?” someone said. I think it was Fran.
“Yes, it does. It really does.”
My second big contribution related to the evening’s big mystery: why did punch suddenly stop flowing freely from the drinks container? Tom theorized that a bit of lemon was lodged in the nozzle. It seemed plausible. Playing the role of surgeons, Fran and I attempted to remove the arterial blockage, but with minimal success.
Later I had another go at the troublesome spout and – hey presto! – there was once more an uninterrupted flow. That too should go on my life’s log.
Before I conclude my Valentine’s Day reprise, a special toast to those behind the celebration. There was a time as a young punk when I would gorge myself silly with hedonistic indifference to those who made everything possible.
So now I make partial amends by saying “thank you” to Louise (centre president) and Tom Sandau; Louis and Fran Bonneville; Marlene Anhorn, secretary; Florence Russell, treasurer; Peter and Delores Sehn; Mel Smith; and Cypress Resort owner Wes Eng and the chef Rolando De Guzman, who cooked 46lbs of prime beef. Sorry, if I’ve forgotten anyone.
When I left that evening, I took with me – at Louise’s insistence – a big bag of leftover goodies, which would probably cost $50 or $75 at a grocery store.
Into the cold, cold night I went, thinking about lemons in nozzles, layered cheesecake and other wonderful things. My fridge has never been so stocked since I arrived in Maple Creek.