A little break from the “New Friends,” for Christmas Eve.
A time for family, friends, egg nog and whatnot.
Or programming reports to run the end of month numbers.
Every time I tried to leave the office, “uh, I better get some food, you know, since everything will be closed tomorrow,” the financial controller asked me to do one more thing. It didn’t help that he called me at 8:30 AM to let me know he would be arriving at 1:00. So I arrive at oneish figruing it’ll be roughly an hour or so, but he tells me that he needs to finish some numbers.
“Can you come back at three?” he inquires.
“Sure. No problem,” I reply.
“Not like it’s Christmas eve or nuthin,” adds the InMo. “Not like I had plans,” he continued, “I was just gonna chug a magnum of cheap champagne and cry into the toilet bowl like I do every Christmas. I am so sad and lonely, it would be my pleasure to waste my day hanging around and waiting for someone. Anyone. I need a scotch.”
Of course at three, he dound some stuff wrong, so I sat there until 7, fixing the templates. Once I actually got outta the office, I went off to where I had been planning to go about four hours earlier: to the home of the Director of the AIDS Project for the CDC in Africa.
And I thought I had my work cut out for me.
I don’t know the guy but a friend of mine happened to be house-sitting for him over the holiday. I had to pick up a few things for our meal; she’s a CIA trained chef, so I knew I had to step it up.
Luckily the Nakumatt was open and full of sad souls that should’ve had something better to do on Christmas Eve. I picked up the ingredients and we on the road again.
Until we ran out of gas.
“There goes your tip, Paco,” slurred the InMo.
As we neared the general area, I call my friend to find more precise directions. “OK, so near the Sarit center. My friend,” I say to the driver. “We’re going near the Sarit Center.”
“Ah, yes, the Sarit Center. I know it,” the driver stated confidently
“We’re going near it. Like, by it. You know, not actually going in the Sarit Center.”
I call my friend again, “OK Lion Place, gotcha. I see the sign. No, I know, we are not going in the Sarit center. We are driving by it right now. Yes, I understand we are not going into the Sarit Center.”
The driver smiled cooly as he pulled into the Sarit Center.
“That’s it,” the InMo smashed his rocks glass on the floor of the Cab. “Hey, Paco. I guess not bathing has affected your mind?”
“Calm down,” I muttered, inhaled deeply through my nose, and cracked Pilsner myself.
After putting the driver on the phone with the Security Guards, I finally got him to get to the right place. I signed for the cab, hugged my friend, and she put a cold beer in my hand before I could say anything. We talked, ate, drank wine, and I played a littel geetar for after dinner entertainment.
Waking up Christmas day, I sighed. I knew it was time to cook. I walked downstairs opened a Tusker and began chopping. The kitche n was spacious by american standards, and so was the house. Four bedrooms and hardwood floors with a valley descending into fog past the quaint, richly green backyard. It was a bit drizzly or else we would’ve spent more time outside.
By noon, I was sautéing a mire poix of carrots brunois, red onion, scallions, and celery in a bit of bacon fat left over from the 800g I’d just fried to chrewspyness: chewy and crispy. I thought of the word before Taco Bell, mind you.
Potato bread, whole wheat, and baguette were mixed with melted butter, cooked boerwor sausage cut out of its casing, chrewspy bacon, and the sauted veggies. After sufficient taste test for salt and pepper, the bird was stuffed after it was rubbed inside and out with salted butter and latticed like a cherry pie with raw bacon.
We spent the whole day preparing the meal, drinking champagnem and discussing philosophies on food. We covered schools of thought on simmering stocks, when to season, toasting flour for roux, on salt and temperature with regards to potatoes, as well as heat levels for different egg dishes. Food truly dominated the day.
A touch of light sauvignon blanc and turkey/butter drippings finished off the veloute. The stuffing removed, mixed with raw onion and broiled to form a think crunchy top.
The portions were small since we’d tasted throughout out the day. To top it all off, my cook-off winning chocolate-orange bread pudding with vanilla whisky creme anglaise filled the special compartment in the stomach that always saves space for dessert.
My friend passed out early, an I saw my opportunity. I left her note of thanks and called a cab, preemptively handing my phone to the guard to give directions. I got through most of Tommy Boy and a package of fruit pastilles by the time the driver arrived.
I packed a couple beers in my bag and headed home. I skyped the family and we chatted and made fun of each other for a good hour and a half. It was truly fantastic. Afterwards, I had only 40 minutes to rest before drinknig tea and watching the Eagles stomp on the Cowboys, securing a spot in the playoffs, and getting one step closer to clinching the division. It was nearly 5:00 AM before I crawled into bed.
Merry fucking Christmas.