I have been trying not to tell you anything about the wedding this week. I have been trying to put it on a shelf, to sit down squarely, and to write you about something solid and normal, like butternut squash or apple pie or turkey soup. I have daydreamed stories about scalloped potatoes and cranberry crisp and basil-tomato-mozzarella sandwiches, but the trouble is, I haven't been making any of those things. I have been planning and thinking about and going over the wedding again and again—with my mother, with Alex, and with his mother, too.
This weekend was especially taken up by It That Shall Not Be Named. Alex and I went up to Wellesley, where he grew up, for a shower thrown by his mother's friend. My mother came down and my sister and her boyfriend, too, and we got all gussied up in black dresses and blue button downs and orange ties and brown boots and ate a whole heap of good food, including quite a few of Judy Harrington's famous grape jelly meatballs. (It sounds strange, I know, but I swear you have never tasted anything like those things.) And after the wine and the high heels and the hugs and the trash bags of wrapping paper, when all was said and done, we drove home with a ridiculous pile of loot.
We felt sort of like bank robbers on the car ride home, worried about getting out for a sandwich or a bottle of fizzy water or a pit stop lest we return to a rubble of missing dinner plates and broken glass, but we made it back unscathed. And when we did, we realized that no one had warned us about the next part. We realized that we had a rather full house and some very important decisions to make over the next few months about what stays and what goes, and then we took a vote about what to do. My vote was to unpack the car into the guestroom, to pile up the boxes and shut the door and lock it and throw away the key and come back after the whole wedding hoopla is over and do the opening all over again (it would be like Christmas! twice!), but Alex informed me that this was not how things would go. We would unpack the car now, and we would unpack it for real. Meaning that there would be all sorts of unpleasant things involved like cleaning out closets, going through clothes, and throwing backpacks from elementary school away. It seemed like a good way to make a mess of an otherwise perfectly wonderful weekend, but the man was determined.
Luckily for everyone's sanity, we unpacked the dinner plates first. They are Gien, from France, and they make plain, un-buttered toast look like a meal for Cherie Blair. I pulled out a batch a pesto from the freezer, and we made a pot of pasta before the big clean. There were still spiders in the entryway closet and packing peanuts all over the floor, but the plates—our first meal on our very own handpicked china—made it all much more okay. In fact, it made it rather splendid.
I have a feeling that from now on, between the wedding and the husband and the perfectly creamy plates, dinner will make me feel that way every single day.
This pesto, adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, is the one I grew up with, and is one of my all-time favorite sauces. My mother used to make huge batches in the summer to freeze so that we could have homemade pesto all winter long. As a toddler, my sister was famous for finishing her pesto, then promptly placing her oily, green-flecked bowl on her head. She was also famous for going on strike from bathing, but luckily, the two phases didn't overlap much.
3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
3 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Combine everything in a food processor and give it a whirl. Keep going until the pesto is thick and well-blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.