Turns out I've been eating lettuce wrong all these years. I'll bet you have too.
Today I met my friend Lisa for lunch. Lisa and I both worked for Women's Health Associates in the "golden years," before the Sutter system ruined it. She has always been a good friend and every so often -- every year or so -- we think about each other and get together for lunch.
We had gone several years without seeing each other when we met for tea a couple of years ago, when I had a Groupon for a quaint tea room in nearby Dixon and when the person I had intended to go to tea with could not come with me, I called Lisa and invited her.
As you do, when you haven't seen each other in a long time, you start with the usual questions. What are you doing now? How's the husband? How're the kids? (Actually "how's the husband" can be a dangerous topic, given the rate of divorce these days.)
I was not prepared for the bombshell she dropped, which was that one of her children had died two years before. I was so sad for so many reasons, that she had lost her son, primarily, but that nobody that we knew told me about it. I recall so strongly in the days after David and Paul died, the people around with whom I felt the most comfortable were a couple who had also lost a child.
I think it was good for her that we could talk about losing children without it becoming one of those uncomfortable subjects that it often is when people who have not been through that terrible experience meet you.
We left tea determined to stay in touch more closely and we sort of have. Today's lunch came about because both of us have relatives at Atria (her mother-in-law has been there for three years) and we were going to have lunch and see Still Alice together, but it turned out it has not come to Davis yet, so we decided to go to lunch anyway.
Osteria Fasulo is a delightful little Italian restaurant, tucked away at the edge of Village Homes, the country's first all solar-powered community, with community gardens for growing fresh produce to serve at the restaurant.
When I read over the menu, my eyes lit on the only selection that included Dungeness crab. "Grilled Romaine lettuce topped with Dungeness crab, olives and boiled eggs, lemon and olive oil dressing." Salads aren't usually my lunch of choice, when I'm being treated to a fancy restaurant, but I ordered this.
Oh. my. word.
Who knew that "grilled lettuce" could be so delicious! It had the smokey flavor of a barbeque mixed with the lemon dressing, and some brown sauce that was under the lettuce too. After the first bite, I didn't even care about how much crab was on my lunch!
Maybe I should start barbequing my salads from now on. Maybe it will help me enjoy them more!
At the end of the meal, the waiter who had seen Lisa give me a birthday present (2 weeks early), surprised us with two tiny meringues topped with a berry sauce and a lit candle for my birthday. The perfect end to a perfect lunch.
After lunch, I drove to Atria to visit my mother, who acted as if I hadn't been there in two weeks (it had been two days). She was remarkably "with it" today. Other than asking me a dozen times what I was going to do in the afternoon, she really engaged and I could have a conversation with her. In fact, I brought her a fund raising card from St. Baldrick and told her of the overwhelming, and humbling, response I've had to my request for support yesterday (I had to up my goal from $500 to $1,000 because I reached $500 in less than 24 hours).
Thank goodness, she did not get angry at the thought of my head being shaved, as she usually does, and she actually said she wanted to make a contribution, and gave me a check for $50. Whew. I stayed an hour. I've been cutting my visits shorter lately because we have nothing to say to each other, but we did today and it was very nice.
When I left, she decided to walk me out to the front of the building. She won't go out the front door, but she stood there and waved goodbye to me as I left.