Do you remember when I told you about this place, the pottery studio in town that is like a sanctuary and has the feel of being in another world?
I went there last night with Eustacia and a few friends. Eustacia is home for the weekend because it's the weekend for Pantasia, the high school steel drum band's big concert. She was a part of the group for four years and wanted to be here for the concert. She's behaving like a 13th grader, she fears.
Anyway, it's tradition on this weekend that I host a big hairy deal dinner for the band directors and the guest percussionist, Tom Miller, who comes here from San Francisco/Denver to conduct a three-day clinic and be part of the concert. This year we decided to do something different and go to the pottery studio for what the potter and his wife called the Empty Bowl Extravaganza. For one price, you select a unique soup bowl made by the potter, fill it with one of a selection of fresh soups made by a local baker, have some bread and cookies from the same local baker and sip some wine from a local winery.
The room was warmed by a coal-burning stove and absolutely beautiful. As I mentioned before, the studio is in what was a one-room school house built in 1887. When the owners bought the place, they found amazing things like huge trunks that had been abandoned. These served as tables and were surrounded by mismatched chairs. There was great music in the background, and lots of happy chatter.
We admired the pottery, the bowls each of us had chosen and the gumption of this husband and wife who put it all on the line to be able to live simply by their skills and dreams. A few of us (not me) ventured down into the old basement that had a dirt floor, and they discovered handcut sandstone blocks that made up the foundation and saw how the school children from 100 years ago had written lasting messages on the blocks.
I'm not sure how the subject came up, but we started sharing what we would want for our last meal should we find ourselves in the position of choosing it, knowing it would be our last. Some of us recalled amazing meals in amazing restaurants, and we wondered if the atmosphere made the food taste better. If we had that same meal in another setting and in another time, would it be as memorable, or would it be disappointing?
I didn't share my last meal at the time, but if I had to choose it, I would choose my grandmother's fried chicken, green beans cooked to death with bits of ham hock, fresh squash from the garden and a giant piece of coconut cake with seven-minute icing. Sigh. It would have to be served by my grandmother while in her kitchen in Alabama. And I would have to be sitting at that old metal dinette set with the smell of all-day cooking in the air. And there needs to be cornbread made from scratch, not like that fake stuff that comes from a mix.
So, it was a magical evening in the pottery studio. Here are the bowls we chose—Eustacia's is on the left, and mine is on the right. Question: what would you choose for your last meal?