I have never met a table I didn’t like or didn’t think had potential. I have had professional relationships with tables for decades now. Setting up and breaking down folding tables at farmer’s markets, setting tables as a waitress, setting up tables as a caterer, making table displays in retail stores-I love tables. I have, currently, in my home, 6 full size tables-no joke! One is from Monica, one is from Dotty (who makes the amazing cards), one I scavenged from Craigslist way before farmhouse tables were chic-so who’s laughing now? One I got from Steve and Jessie’s old store in the mountains and one was a $10 Habitat restore table top and Shawn put an old base from a Mainsail table on it and voila! table and the last one I got from an old thrift store in Burgaw that used to be where Brown Dog is now. In my house they perform as desks, eating stations, art tables and Lego building platforms, cat walkways and dog hiding places! OUTSIDE I have 6 tables as well. ALL scavenged from the side of the road on the island except one set that I got at an estate sale. AND at the shop we have 22 tables inside and 2 outside. And ALL those tables have stories too! Some of those tables are from a movie set, some are from friends who moved away and didn’t want to get rid of tables but couldn’t take them, some are from yard sales, some scavenged (of course) but I could tell you the provenance of EVERY SINGLE ONE. And, I love them all.
Yes, that is a pie on fire, on one of my favorite tables. It is a marble topped table that cost me a whopping $25 off of Craigslist from Topsail Beach because who wants an antique table at the the beach? Uhhh, me. All day, every day. Anyway, PRO TIP do not use the magic relighting candles next to a highly flammable plastic toy. FLAMES.
When I waited tables eons ago at Soundside Restauarant, every table had fresh linens, cloth napkins and the dreaded OIL LAMPS. Oh, they were beautiful, but at the end of a long night of fielding moronic, repetitive questions from inebriated vacationers the last thing one wanted to do was de-smudge those bad boys and refill them with oil, all of them, in your section. I had not thought about that in years until recently Joanie gave me a box full of them and I cranked them up to show the boys (while promptly splashing myself with oil) and they are still charming and beautiful.
You can travel so much with a table! A different table covering, even a scarf, makes the most pedestrian tv tray magic. Do you remember in “A Little Princess” when they use Ermengarde’s scarf to cover Sara’s shabby table in order to feast on the contents of her Christmas hamper? When Sara was faint with hunger and that red scarf made the dingy room glow with promise? Or the changes wrought in the room when the lascar had scaled the roof and filled her small table with warm foods and lit the fire? That book made me deeply love setting a scene and a mood with fresh food and candles. Which is why I am dragging my family and all the bakery customers to India this week and the mystery of the raspberries shall be uncovered!
In India, Cape Gooseberries are a SUPER FRUIT and they are also known as “Rashbaris” pronounced “raspberries” which is why a recipe like this one Raspberry Matar could potentially be WILDLY confusing! (If you click Raspberry Matar above it will take you to the recipe!) IF I had been able to choose where I was born and my cultural heritage, I must confess that India has always held me in it’s thrall. It’s the food I crave at all times, the colors I love, THE JEWELS and I do absolutely worship cows. When I was little, I appropriated our neighbors calves and named them Candy and Bambi (I was 4, give me a break). I loved everything about those gorgeous creatures and their warm smell and gentle natures. ONE DAY, I shall own a forever cow. In the meantime, Connor paints me cows and I occasionally find massive cow art. As to jewels, there are simply not enough of them. The irony being you can wear no jewelry while baking because of the butter, the oils, the heat and all the equipment- you can lose appendages that way or even, worse ruin your gems! I love real gems, old world gems, and vintage Swarovski but cubic zirconia doth not dazzle me. In one of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, she discusses gems in mouth-watering detail and as a child the Hope Diamond and the gems of Egypt kept me poring over library books of gems. I have a dear friend who trucks in fine jewelry and has let me hold some AMAZING pieces, so if you have not been to Tavernay’s in Wilmington, you should go. They have new items, vintage items, original items and will repair and redesign things. They also have crazy sales on their Facebook page, so, if you believe in jewelry therapy as I do, it is just the ticket! That’s where my wedding ring came from, my baby shower present from Mom (it’s a shower of stars necklace-I am obsessed with stars), my wedding earrings, my 40th birthday earrings-all from Tavernay’s! In Ayurvedic science, diamonds guarantee long life endurance and beauty. Some people do gluten-free, I do diamonds plus. The tales of riches to be made in the spice trade lured Europeans to risk demons, dragons and falling off the edge of the world to seek new routes to India’s golden shores! Me too! What was more alluring as a child than to dream of being and 11 year old who inherited diamond mines? The sparkling necklace and skull ring below are lovely baubles made by our friend Charles Butler, who also makes beautiful things (these are NOT from my private collection) but only does custom work rather than have a store front. (ALSO, if you missed the Dior Skull ring collection and are still smarting from that style defeat, Mr. Butler’s skull ring below, retails for a cool $1200.00 versus $11,500.00 WITH the added bonus of not worrying about anybody ELSE shopping in Harris Teeter sporting the same ring because YOURS is custom.)
While working on this week’s Indian menu, I pulled out my copies of “Sara Crewe” and “A Little Princess” including one volume that had belonged to my grandfather, though the writing in the front is a mystery and I have no idea how this book came into his possession. And as I flipped through it, I found the most astonishing passage! It was the explanatory letter Frances wrote, telling why “A Little Princess” ended up being an ever changing story. And while I had read, all the versions, somehow, the explanation by the author herself had escaped me, and it is so endearing I read it twice. I will include it at the bottom, as it is a little long, but it will make you wish you could have sat down with her over a cup of tea and a plate of cookies! And this little story is so FULL of pandemic applicable lines of goodness!
“Just look and see! How do you know mine are fairy stories? But I can tell you’-with a fine bit of unheavenly temper-‘you will never find out whether they are or not if you’re not kinder to people then you are now!” Sara Crewe as snarled to the despicable Lavinia
“Miss Minchin’s tables and chairs are just like her.”
“To be invited into a warm place full of bread seemed an incredible thing. She did not know what was going to happen. She did not care, even.”
Passage regarding starving street urchin Sara gave hot buns to.
“I don’t want you to give me anything,’ said Sara. “I want your books-I want them!” And her eyes grew big, and her chest heaved.”
Sara convincing Ermengarde to give her the fine books her Papa sent her.
(Papa with a British accent sounds so much better to me then, “PAW-PAW” but when you live in Sneads Ferry…)
If you want to give yourself a treatment in Indian glamour, spend some time researching the sparkly diamond that is Madhur Jaffrey.
She has written an incredible amount of cookbooks, she is hilarious when she guest stars on podcasts and her biography is splendid. Look at all these jewels! I also happen to enjoy this mother-daughter team that was recently on Splendid Table (another wonderful TABLE!) Click the link to listen to a delicious podcast on GRILLED YOGURT SANDWICHES. That’s right. Sounds nuts. So yummy. https://www.splendidtable.org/episode/2019/05/03/mothers-amp-daughters I was working on my menu this Saturday and when Logan brought the mail in there was a Claudia card with her original art with a very Indian feeling sketch on the card AND her last name is Burnett so how is that for a fun twist of magic????
We are going to spend this week celebrating the fact that WE SURVIVED ANOTHER SUMMER and inhaling copious amounts of naan and raita, rice and chutney. One of my favorite fluff books to read “Goodye Jimmy Choo” has a delicious passage about “The Indian takeaway” which sounds SO much better than “take out” and reminds of getting to eat food in an Indian restaurant in London and have my mind erased by the deliciousness of it all! And the chai!! OOF. I do wish I could eat honey, because it truly looks like liquid gold and it’s so FUN to say “milk and honey” and honey is lovely in real chai but honey and I must retain a respectful distance. Read your old books, research some new books, clean your jewelry and get your plant beds ready because fall gardening is just around the corner and THAT means that we will have completed 75% of the year 2020 and THAT is a very, very good thing.