Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last Bites

Sigh... this trip was as much a learning experience as any of the last ones. Mostly, actually, relearning.
I re-learned that my sister is very much the youngest child: it was my job to take care of things, that if they went wrong...well, she was not responsible for things going right in the first place. Someday, as I often find myself hoping, we will both be able to foresee, to take blame, or at least not assign it so convictingly.
I re-learned that because of the latter, I often feel guilty, like I am letting her down, and that I physically resent this. I get tired. And I get testy. After unsuccessfully trying to perk her back up (oh, when that girl gets down, it is a long haul back up), I just give up, speak a little shortly, just tire of the whole thing.
This, I re-learned, actually lifts her back up. Hard to explain, a bit like a guilt trip I suppose. But it works.
Lastly, I re-learned that she will not admit to being hungry. I would ask if she wanted to stop for lunch, and she never did, as her mood sunk lower and lower. But insist on some food, get her eating, and she unfailingly says she feels much better, she must have just needed to eat. No shit, now if only i could remember to keep her fed like a diabetic.
What I learned though, is that food often brings her down. She claimed, before the trip, that she is very open to trying new things; as I explained before, she will eat it so long as you assure her she has had it and likes it. Again: if she has tried it. Nothing new, and, more importantly, nowhere new. What I learned is how uncomfortable she is with places, assuming that a restaurant only serves fancy, weird, foods that she is not used to, that she will not enjoy. This is new, an assumption that because of where I work and what I am doing with my life, than I must want to eat only that way. It was difficult to convince her otherwise, and disappointing considering the meals we would have was to be the highlight of my trip. She not only dampered this, but made me feel bad for wanting it, and certainly didnt respect that I had catered to what she loved and wanted to do, hoping she would oblige my passions too. Not so much, and it remains a tint on our trip, albeit another learning experience.
Wow, did that ever make our trip sound a complete bust. It was not all bad, and perhaps I should have raved before I ranted. We did make many a good memory, laughing and singing, unexpectedly touring through the home our mom grew up in, having great family visits, movie going, and latte drinking. And now that she is gone I wish we hadnt had little spats, that we had done things differently, that where we ate hadnt mattered so much to me--or so little, no, so much too, just in a different way, to her.

There were, however, two particular eating highlights of our trip, though only one of which we would both agree on. The first was a small coffee shop, Coco et Olive where we had breakfast on the last day of our trip. I had stopped there for coffee the previous day after picking up milk for our shreddies, and suggested we go there the next morning, bribing her with the croissants they had ready. Both days we had plenty of cookies with our breakfast, and sipped lattes from small soup bowls with perfect, dense foam. The only disappointment, the housemade tomato quiche was not ready yet. The quaint shop was a little taste of France, and a serene way to start off the day (though cookies are always a wonderful way to begin, especially when they are dainty lemon sables).

The second place was at my insistance for one wonderful meal (the first night, I had a bag of popcorn for dinner, the second was a pub--I was adamant). We stumbled upon this place on our first night when Jeanine refused to eat at the restaurant I had made reservations at and we began a hungered wandering for somewhere else (should have reverted to our coffee shop go-to). La Quercia, a tiny Italian place captivated me with their simple menu and casually intimate ambiance, so much so that when they had no place for us that night until ten thirty, I made a reservation for two nights later instead. And the wait was worth it. The parmesan souffle was a perfectly blonde pillow, firm to the fork and steaming within, revealing air pockets but as tiny as a needles eye. The zuchinni salad accompaniment was thin ribbons of squash dressed lightly in lemon and olive oil with flecks of basil. A drizzle of well aged balsamic vinegar rimmed the plate, so sweet and fruity; it was a trio of clean, undeniable flavours. For dinner I had Linguine Puttanesca, a sauce rich in salty robustness, the anchovies, capers, olives and tomatoes coarsley chopped, a carefree presentation that renewed my appreciation for peasant food. Dispite my sisters obvious discomfort, I, perhaps selfishly, enjoyed this meal so much that I am glad to have nothing to compare it to. It was perfection, all I could have wanted from Vancouvers restaurant scene. Well, that and the lemon tarts from Granville Island Market that we desserted on while driving home.

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