I was doing ok until Star mentioned mac’n’cheese with ham, part of her Thanksgiving dinner. All I could taste was the longing. Then she said, with just the faintest hint of accusation, ” If you were home we’d have all kinds of pies lined up on the counter. We’d be eating them with ice cream”. We finished the phone call and I went to bed shaky with a side of self-pity.
Then I visited Elsa. It is her birthday this weekend. Naturally, this meant that she did about three times the normal amount of work. She made up her bed for me, insisting I took it because it is the softest in the house. She made her special lentil salad, because she knows I like it. She baked gata. From the moment I arrived I have been fed: coffee and chocolate. Tea with chirr– her own dried fruit from the garden. Nut and raisin mix. Fresh fruit. Green beans with egg– another favorite. For dinner yesterday we had giant bowls of harissa, a kind of porridge mixed with poached chicken and served with garlic butter and Elsa’s homemade pepper relish. It sticks not only to the ribs but to every other internal body part. I am leaving with two liters of homemade apricot juice, Elsa’s apricot jam, a jar of eggplant caviar, about half a tonne of dried fruit “take it to the office to share”, a carrot relish, and a carton of the lentil salad. She has also packed up some cheese. “It is made in Gegharkunik– the best in Armenia”. She has also given me a set of exquisite Armenian coffee cups to bring home for Star whose birthday is also this weekend. She washed my clothes and hung them out to dry. She gave me a pair of socks in case my feet felt cold (they never do). It wasn’t Thanksgiving, but it was family. I don’t feel quite so sore about missing the mac’n’cheese with ham, or the pies and ice cream. I have much to be thankful for.