Monday, April 14, 2014

Message in a Bottle

My parents are moving house. An event that is both emotionally draining and psychologically liberating (but much more on that in subsequent posts). In helping them downsize, many decisions needed to be made about the true value of household objects. What is precious enough to keep and what can be discarded or donated – a fond memory – its enduring legacy.

Over the four decades my parents lived in their home, they often entertained, many times simply, and on occasion quite lavishly. My father is a great cook, a skill he learned from his father, and one that thankfully has been passed down to me. My father was raised by his Swiss-Argentine father to cook in the French culinary tradition, and a critical part of Gallic gastronomy is its reverence for wine.

Wine was present at all of our dinners, and I learned to appreciate its complexities at a young age. My parents kept a couple of empty bottles as a memento from a memorable party in the early 70s and thus a tradition was born. As the collection grew, they crowned their high kitchen cupboards with bottles from dinners both regal and informal. They are touchstones for me of long tables, summers on the patio, gleaming stemware, overflowing floral centerpieces, silver service, laughter, music, smoking jackets, a convivial atmosphere and guests always put at their ease. When I think of those dinners I can still taste boeuf bourguignon, escargots, salmon with dill, turkey with chestnut stuffing, and potato leek soup.

The bottles alas will not being moving to the new house, but in recognition of their animation of many a memorable meal, I want to document them here. Enjoy.

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