Slow, Slow Food

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We left at dusk. Highway 401 glittered with semi-trailers and trucks of various persuasions. Hardware. Chickens. Fruit.

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The car was full of dogs, clothes, books. And food. Bags of food. Fresh tuna loin. Pineapple. Yams. Rhubarb. Chicken. Mint chutney. Cherries. Cherry tomatoes. Eggs.

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She told me all the beautiful things I’d see at the cottage: a river, trees, canoe and kayaks. But, being The Guitar Player, she left out a few things, too. No plumbing. No shower, no running water. “I didn’t want the outhouse to be a deal-breaker,” she admiited later, somewhat guiltily.

Had I known, I might not have planned to make grilled tuna with fruit sauce, coconut rice on the side. I might not have baked a cornmeal-rhubarb cake. I might not have promised cherry pancakes for breakfast.

The cooking was slow, and involved a muggy, dark cottage kitchen, and endless hauling of cauldrons of water from the river. I made the cake on one of the hottest evenings of our trip, and then the old 1940’s oven wouldn’t cool down for hours, so that we slept fitfully, a fan roaring noisily beside us.

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The days were slow, too, exquisitely so. It had been a year of 5:30 a.m. alarms, a year of books and notes and impossible deadlines. A vacation at a ramshackle cottage on a river, somewhere between Kaladar and Napanee was a gift to heal the memory of those drab days.

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We swam naked in clean green water flecked with gold. We kayaked the dark edges of the river, clambered on pre-Cambrian rocks to find a mossy knoll fit for a picnic of cheese and crackers and fruit. The cake was moist, delicious, with an interesting crumb. We ate our grilled tuna as the sky got smokey and purple, and the water turned pink and then gold with the setting sun. The leftovers became a salade nicoise for lunch the next day.

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The Guitar Player turned into a kid that week, running with the dogs, building me a bonfire, and singing up every song she knew.

What did you cook up or eat while on vacation?

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