The week before my vacation, I’m spending a lot of time day dreaming about the foods that my family has missed for the past year: Razor clams, Goose neck barnacles fresh grilled sea bream, lemons picked from our own trees and fragrant rosemary bushes. I can picture the fresh melons, cucumbers, cauliflower, peaches, oranges and avocados overflowing in crates set out on the cobblestone town square by weathered farmers. As I pick my way through, I am busy creating the next meal in my head.
I am thinking about the tiny truck that is filled with homemade Portuguese rolls and pastries. A line of townsfolk quickly forms as we wait to purchase the day’s fresh bread. I am also thinking about the ways that we will use the fresh bounty, what we will eat and how we will cook together. We crowd into our small kitchen away from home, with sea breezes wafting through an open window. My daughter arranges fresh flowers; my son squeezes a dozen oranges into the sweetest juice ever tasted; my mom is making hot chocolate and coffee, while my Dad and I are elbow to elbow arranging a morning feast. (My husband? Oh, he’s still sleeping.)
And that’s just the early hours of our day.
Each meal is one that we create and then savor together. After a brief few hours at the beach, we come back to our villa, and side by side create a heavenly lunch; a few hours later, we’re laying out fresh olives, cheese and toasts on our terrace to compliment the ice cold green wine we sip while watching the sun begin it’s graceful descent into the sea. The day culminates with dinner, the most remarkable meal of our day.
Whether we’ve gone to the local fish market to get the day’s catch, or picked up some farm raised pork, we use what’s fresh and local. I send the kids out into the yard to snip fresh rosemary and pick a few lemons. My husband prepares the open air tiled grill, arranging wood chips and charcoal, getting the fire just right. My mother sets a glorious table and helps prepare and shuttle food from kitchen to grill. Together we have worked, if you must call it that, to create a sumptuous feast. Together we will sit and together we will savor.
At last, with bellies full and kids asleep, the grown ups will sit with a glass of port in hand and watch the moon rise, anticipating another unforgettable day.