They went mad for my cauliflower

I have to say, in glorious retrospect, that my Middle Eastern mezze lunch was a success. That could have had something to do with our guests as well as the food. The many dishes were demolished with all the gusto of a plague of locusts.

Our guests were Scott, Corrie, Bridger, Cade and Asher. And the extraordinary Susie.

Scott works for the same company as Mirinda (though in a different part of it). They come from Colorado (originally) but have lived all over the place including a long stint in Australia, giving us lots in common.

Corrie also spent a year in the Ukraine which I really want to talk to her about but, as these things go, there were other things to talk about, filling in the short time we had together.

It was Bridger’s fault we were time limited. Scott was happily ensconced in a chair on the terrace when he was reminded that they had to leave so Bridger could go to work. I can forgive him though because he filled the dishwasher with nary an instruction (or expectation).

Actually, the three boys were brilliant. When Scott said they wanted to come today (they had a choice) I was kind of dreading the arrival of 17, 16 and 10 year old boys. My fear was unfounded. They were all wonderful company.

Ash, in particular, is a wonderful boy. His tendency to query is an adjectival delight. And, who’da thunk it – he has the gift of dog whispering. It’s very rare for Emma to take to strangers, particularly when they’re male but, when Ash sat on the floor, she instantly went to him and curled up in his lap.

Ash reminded me of me. He finds interest in many things and is never hesitant about asking questions or offering his opinion. I think he’ll grow up to be a most eclectic man with a tendency to a big, boofy white beard.

Susie is their dog. She is an American bulldog and a mass of muscle, strength and cuddliness. She is a seriously friendly dog. Even the girls got on with her, something that rarely happens when a strange dog invades their space.

Anyway, the meal went down extremely well. Scott declared, on reading the menu, that he LOVED Middle Eastern food. This did concern me a bit given he hadn’t tasted it yet but, as it turned out, there was much praise for the food.

Obviously, a lot of the credit belongs to Sabrina Ghayour but I took it on her behalf.

Most impressive was the unanimous opinion of the roasted cauliflower. It’s a Syrian recipe, simple but very tasty. The cauli is roasted then has a sauce poured over it before serving. Strong in cumin, oil, garlic and lemon, the sauce really works with what can be a bit of a dull veg at the best of times. As it turned out, Mirinda complained that she didn’t get any because it was all eaten.

After lunch we went to the park to walk it off and the three boys climbed the walls surrounding the castle.

I spent a lot of the afternoon chatting with all five of them, both individually and in groups. I particularly enjoyed chatting with Corrie who has some brilliant ideas regarding education. Of course, I forgive her for the homeopathy or, placebo, as I call it.

It might be because we’ve been in Lockdown and therefore I’ve not seen a lot of other people but I really enjoy entertaining. The cooking is generally a long haul but it’s worth it. I love cooking, particularly when the guests are so appreciative. And chatting about things, both safe and dangerous, is something I always enjoy.

And I really have to mention the lack of technology. The meal (and the walk) was about us as human beings and not constantly being interrupted with texts, Google searches or phone calls. There were no phones at the table (apart from one brief appearance of Mirinda’s when she was changing the music) with the focus being on each other. This, for me, was perfect.

We may have started off as strangers but we definitely parted as friends.

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