The Last Cassoulet

I was sick for about eight days: a wracking cough that kept me from sleeping and unable to talk without bringing it on, although it happened all the time anyhow. I saw my doctor on Thursday. By then my vitals were normal. He said it sounded worse than it was.

Friday the 15th was the date for our annual solstice party. Every other year, I had another woman to cook with. For years, my friend Elise came and cooked with me. After her death, Melenie and I cooked together. But she’s out in Northhampton now, and although she returned last year to help, now she’s in a play. Melenie is an excellent actress who, as with her husband Jay, acted professionally when she lived in L.A. Woody had never shared two days of cooking with me, and he found it difficult and not the fun as my two previous women souscooks had experienced.

Every year for some years, the centerpiece of the spread at the solstice party has been my cassoulet, adapted from Julia Child’s classic recipe but with my own tweaks. Last night, we realized that it was no longer the great hit it had always been. Tastes have changed. The demographic of our parties has changed, as so many of our longtime friends have died or moved off to assisted living and we have instead many friends younger than us. Younger people don’t eat as much meat; they have no idea what a cassoulet is. After spending two days making the dish, we have most of it left. That never happened before. Obviously, there’s no point spending all that cash for duck, lamb, pork etc [5 kinds of meat in it] let alone spending two days cooking it. I will have to find something else. My curried turkey salad, chickpea feta salad, our gravlax and my triple chocolate pie all went well, as did our shrimp with spicy dip. People brought many dishes and lots of good wine. It was a great party. I think almost everyone had a good time.   Both Woody and I did.


Today, slowly a cleanup and putting the house back. This morning Xena, who refused to be shut up in a wing of the house with the other cats, but rather oversaw the whole party from the top of the refrigerator, was overjoyed to see all thirty people gone. She urges us on as we slowly put things back, occasionally standing on or by something and mewing to demand we return it to its rightful place or remove it altogether.

This will be a slow weekend as we continue to clean and straighten and I try to continue to recover. It is quite cold here now and we have three inches of snow on the ground. Pretty but a problem. This was such a long mild warm fall, I never took my boots out, and now I can’t find them. I just don’t remember where I put them and they aren’t in any of the obvious places. I can’t leave the house without boots, so with a mere three inches of snow, I’m snowed in.



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