“I need to see the baby,” my sister opined.

“You have to book me, Janstein,” I told her. “I’m busy every day this week. The people book me.”

So she said, “Dinner. Tomorrow night,” and I was on the bus. A home-cooked meal that you didn’t have to cook yourself is heaven. Sometimes, the quintessence of supper is other people.

I have never been sorrier not to have my camera at a meal with me. Bright yellow Formica tabletop, white wine in short glasses with birds of the forest on them, three delicious children animated by energetic dramaturgy, roasted asparagus, a big bowl of pasta con vongole, breaded fish from the churrasqueira at the bottom of the street, and an old-school salad to follow – romaine, cuke, celery, carrot. No goddamn frippery. Perfection!

Dessert was leftover chelsea buns from Easter brunch, made by my niece and my mother, chocolate ice cream, decaf espresso.

It was a great simple supper, a good reminder for me that entertaining is an adjective as well as a verb – that’s it’s easy and doesn’t take elaborate preparation (says the party who did nothing. But you know what I mean). It came together fast and there was nothing out of the ordinary about it and yet I’ll always remember it: the skinniest, daintiest carrot sticks my sister sliced for my ten-year-old niece, propped up in a pretty cup to be appealing, the salt pinched from a little green glass dish, the silver candlesticks Janstein set out, commenting that one had once been used to knock someone over the head with (it was quite bent). That my audacious brother-in-law could tell me (after an aquafit story) that the last thing I look like is a professional swimmer – and evoke no significant fallout. (None. How is it that even possible?). Taking everyone exactly as they are and eating it up.

Coming up next: I’m delighted to announce that my mum-in-law will be on our doorstep in the morning, all the way from South Branch, Newfoundland. This is a woman who can cook for a crowd. She doesn’t bat an eye at feeding 100-plus people at the South Branch Social Club (tends a pretty mean bar, too). She feeds us like kings every Christmas, so there will be serious action in my kitchen over the next few weeks in order to reciprocate. I’ll be trying to impress her with my Italian chops while she holds/chases the baby, and I hope to talk her into teaching us her secret to the world’s best fishcakes. Stay tuned.

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