I went and got Vida, yesterday morning, and offered her: a day of shopping, a day of touring or a day at my house. You know what she chose.

It was wonderful to see her smile and spend so much time with her.
As I suspected, she is not one for relaxing.
K had requested a particular seasoning from her home, and she misheard me on the phone and brought hot sauce. (Not that we won't USE the hot sauce.) When K confessed that he was hoping for the seasoning we took a drive to the market to buy the ingredients - because Vida doesn't BUY seasoning. She MAKES it.
The stuff I am talking about is greenish and a spread that is a tiny bit chunky with onion and peppers. It has great complex flavors that I couldn't put my finger on, until yesterday.

She requested a big cutting board and a small knife (You get better control!) and set to work.


Yes, she is using a big knife here, but only at the very end to get the finest mince.

fancy pants

She wore her fancy pants. She teased me pretty mercilessly about my height.


K jumped up to grate the onions while Vida poured little handfuls of spices and finely chopped herbs into the bowl. When she was done it was exactly the seasoning K loves.
(It is spread on chicken or fish before grilling and comprised of scallions, onion, clove, thyme, garlic and lime.)

But we weren't done.
Her husband had grated a couple of pounds of coconut for us. She brought it to us frozen and had me defrost it.
Ordering me around the kitchen she whipped up the dough for three coconut breads.

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We watched Judge Judy while the breads baked. (Vida likes it when the people on Judge Judy "get tangled up")
She imparted many words of wisdom to me, quietly.

You have to have some luxuries in life cause you don't want anything after you're dead...

is the one I remember right now.

She shopped very carefully in the market, checking the prices for canned fish and meat with a tiny slip of paper and pen to do all her calculating, and was pleased with the price of Tetley Tea.

Can you reach it, I asked timidly.
Well I know YOU can't, she cracked.

Our mailman was interested in the woman chopping away in my kitchen when he brought the afternoon mail and asked, hopefully, if she was making coucou. They chatted a bit and he went on his way.

Vida brought me new dishtowels - one of them is all of her homeland's recipes and she insisted that I never use it as a dishtowel. I promised with all my heart that I would never - washing it might fade the recipes she warned. But she wasn't happy until she made me put it in a zip bag to preserve it. And she made me promise to follow the coucou recipe to make for the mailman.

She brought flying fish too - frozen all those hours and a week. When I was incredulous that she got it through customs she told me she had a suitcase full of frozen fish. She brought tuna too - the prices have gone up. It's $5 a pound now.
She had bought 100 flying fish and she and her husband cleaned all of them, wrapped them in packs of 5 and froze them for her friends here.

My mom came to dinner and Oldest arrived with his girlfriend. Oldest is her favorite and they spent a long time hugging and laughing.
She has great insight into each of my boys and was pleased to see that Middle has opened up and talks a little more than he used to.
I don't think she cared much for K's chicken with tarragon cream, one of his special dishes but she ate quietly. She would have appreciated chicken and rice with peas, I think, but he wanted to cook his food for her.

At about 8:00, I packed up an apple pie I bought her, her favorite, and drove her back to her friend's house.
I wrestled with her to take money for the fish. I told her buy chocolate with it (chocolate is very expensive where she lives)and she relented.

It was a happy day and, as I stare off into the kitchen I can see the hunk of pumpkin she made my buy. I wouldn't let her grate it or make the batter for the fritters we love last night, so I know what I'll be doing later.
Even though it will be hard work I'll be smiling - and laughing while I think of her.


Dani said…
Everyone should have a Vida in their life. She sounds wonderful.
Eleanor said…
Oh, wow, that was everything I expected, and more. Thanks Vida! Thanks Blackbird!

P.S. Hey bb, watch your back...I can see you!
MsCellania said…
Can you share that recipe for coucou? Or did you already....
I can't believe customs didn't swipe those nice fish from her! Lucky you they didn't.
You must be a very good (short) person to attract such a good, old soul like Vida. I wish we lived closer. I am coveting your leftovers!
Anonymous said…
What a lovely visit. I'm glad you had such a nice time.
Anonymous said…
Can I just tell you how much I LOVE all of that. Love it.
I am excited about the possibilities of that spice mix...I may ratio consult later if the secrets can be revealed.
Amy A. said…
I am filled with jealousy. Vida seems like a nice friend to have.

Food always tastes better when it's sprinkled with that much love and friendship. I am convicted to do a better job in that area.
RW said…
I agree with Amy A. food prepared together with friends has to be one of my most favourite things. It always tastes so much better than when you prepare it solo.
Anonymous said…
I know this has probably been said before...but I like how her name, "Vida," means "Life" in Spanish.

She seems to bring a lot of it with her wherever she goes...
She sounds like someone who brings a little sunshine wherever she goes.
Coconut bread sounds amazing.
Angela said…
I think I just fell in love with Vida. What a perfect day.
Fannie said…
Love cooking with friends. Glad you had a wonderful time.
Carol said…
I don't even know what cou cou is? Is it like cous cous? Wow - Vida would be wasted on me! :)
Paula said…
How nice to be able to show her where you live since you've spent time with her where she lives.

And? Will you share the seasoning recipe?
Caset said…
that sounds like such a lovely and delicious day! lucky you!

grocery shopping with friend is always so intriguing - i love finding new things via wandering the aisles with others
Badger said…
That is just so cool. Will you get to see her again before she leaves?
Stephanie said…
I love Vida, your kitchen, her pants...all of it. What a lovely day.

I must have missed the back story on how you and Vida there a link? Or is that part of the charm of it...that there is no back story? :)
Anonymous said…
What a great day and evening. And yes, won't you see her again during her visit?

I love the quote too. Why deprive oneself (one's self?)?

Vida is a gem, please tell her we all think so. I am keeping her wisdom - I love to dip into these when I feel low or overcome. Thanks Vida, Thanks Blackbird - I love your style.
Anonymous said…
Vida is a wise woman, especially on the subject of little luxuries. And judging from the photo, she is not THAT much taller than you -- she is wearing what look to be 1 - 2" heels, after all.
Velma said…
Hey! This was a total "Love Thursday" post, you sneak.

(It sounds like it was a lovely day.)
Anonymous said…
Well, qhat coudl I say that has not been said already.
Vida sounds great, looks great, can cook wonderfully, sneak loads of things through the customs, is wise, loves your children.
She's a treasure! Hold on to her.
You are definitely opening up, we could see the whole lot of you, from the back. I "dig" your hip kitchen!!!
barbra said…
It's very special that you have a relationship with someone like Vida.
Anonymous said…
That is lovely - cooking together is a very special thing.
Unknown said…
She sounds like a gem. I love the idea of making seasonings from scratch. Love her outfit and love that she teases you about your size.
Eleanor said…
And not one apron in sight! How reckless!
KPB said…
God you're short.
Anonymous said…
I asked LB (master of scale) if you were shoter than me, and he says you're an inch taller. Sigh.
Duyvken said…
She sounds wonderful, how I would have lovd to have been at dinner with you!