She still doesn’t speak any words I recognize. But delight is her noisiest emotion and her palette has no expectations. For breakfast we can have oatmeal swirled with grated apple and heavy cream, or cold brown rice sprinkled with sesame seeds, or slices of roasted sweet potato dredged in lime juice and cilantro.
But it’s the lunches that I look forward to: at last they are the lunches I’d read about in my favorite food memoirs: lazy and slow with many plates crowding the table. My fellow diner has no compunction about being served from a pyrex from the fridge; and she loves to watch me trim and chop our food in front of her at the table. New ideas of simple combinations come to me as we eat, and I jump up to try them on the spot.
Inadvertently, it comes in courses. Begin with enormous slices of avocado and move to a plate piled with soft pinto beans doused in olive oil, bits of green onion and topped with a snowy layer of feta. Square of homemade bread, hers spread with olive oil or tahini, mine toasted and slathered with Justin’s chocolate peanut butter. We share gooey bits of camembert, spoonfuls of fig jam folded into greek yogurt, and tiny slices of strawberries, the red juice dying both of our fingers. A small plate of fluffy scrambled eggs and brown bits of potato. A sautéed pile of bitter greens with olive oil and slices of garlic. I chop up spoonfuls for her, wondering if suspicion of green things is inborn. It isn’t, she loves it more than the strawberries. Back to the avocado we go, for a final dessert slice. My kitchen has tripled its former avocado capacity—we eat the whole fruit in one meal, daily. She smears it in her hair as she eats, and why not? She has justified the ritual bath time yet again.
We look out the window, listen to the subway trains coming and going, and sip water. She loves to drink out of the glass. I watch as she eagerly sips and then lets the water trickle back out of her mouth, she looks thrilled with the experience. It’s quiet: our neighbors are at work, and the table in front of her has been stratified with everything we’ve eaten: all of it tasted, smeared, examined, and shared. It was a good lunch.