Location: Middlebury VT
When: January 22, 2005, 8 pm
Present: astonishing numbers of Brakeleys
How many Americans are overweight specifically because their mothers drilled into them, "Clean your plate, dear, there are children starving in China!" Intellectually I know better, but to this day I have this deep seated feeling that there is a direct causal relationship between me eating all the food on my plate and children dying in China. There's just so much food. I can't believe it. This is the big gathering of the Brakeleys. The matriarch, Gigi, had five sons and instead of having individual birthday parties, she has one big party for them at the average of their birth dates. Gigi is one of the landed gentry and has had a lifetime of experience putting on fantastic parties. This one was no exception! There were more caterers there than there are family members at my own family's gatherings. All totaled there were around fifty family members gathered together. This is a fairly regular occurence in this family, and they do it because they enjoy it. They like each other and have fun when they all get together like this. In my own family, we only gatther in such numbers when someone dies. And the Brakeleys are so friendly and so nice! They hug and ask questions and are interested. It all makes me insanely uncomfortable. My family gives the obligatory hug once a year or so, and we might talk about books or movies or something, but nothing personal. Honestly, I'm okay with that. I'm a very private person and don't really need anyone to know much of anything about my life. Public displays of affection make me uncomfortable. So I felt like a long tailed cat at a rocking chair convention (or however that saying goes). It is ironic, really. The whole family is trying to make me feel comfortable but none of them are doing the one thing that really would make me feel comfortable: ignore me completely.
But anyway, the food! Such exquisite food! Not only was I trying to save the life of a Chinese child, I was trying to make a moment last. It is hard to find really good food north of Portland, which is two hours away. So this was the best food I'd tasted in a very long time. Eggplant and portobello parmesan, mesclun salad, baked potato that somehow had been whipped with cream and butter and returned to its skin. And the coffee? Sadly, it wasn't going to win any Golden Cup awards, but I was too full to be drinking it anyway. But I needed something when desert came around. Chocolate mousse cake that was to die for. The Oompa Loompas had to roll me out the door. I was fat and in pain from eating too much, but at least no Chinese children were dead from my selfishness at being unwilling to clear my plate!