There are as many definitions for the word gourmet as there are for friend, and I am lucky enough to belong to a group that brings new meanings to both these words each time we meet.
Founded a dozen years ago, our group gets together two or three times a year to celebrate exotic food and to toast important things like friendship, laughter and fun.
Together we’ve cooked our way through various countries from Venezuela to Iraq. We’ve roasted pigs, boiled fish, shelled shrimp and, on one especially adventurous occasion, pressure cooked beef tongue.
Along the way we have celebrated the births of some of our children, and the adoptions of others. We’ve mourned parents, toasted promotions, commiserated job loss and raised our glasses to new U.S. citizenship. We have ushered in every season.
Thanks to my gourmet friends I have danced the salsa under white twinkle lights in a neighbor’s backyard and shot craps on a regulation table in my own dining room. I have used my wedding china and my Bundt cake pan. I have ridden a hurricane spawned wave on to a sandy beach in South Carolina and recreated the French Quarter at a house on Overland Drive.
The beauty of a successful gourmet club lies in its teamwork. Our group works like this: two couples get together to plan and host the dinner. They assign recipes to each of the other four couples and everyone gathers on a Saturday night to celebrate.
We apply the word gourmet generously and our meals have ranged from the simple to the sublime. Once, we deep-fried every course. Another night we put the men in charge and their beef brisket did not reach an edible stage until midnight.
Of course the relationship between food and friendship doesn’t escape us. Both need tending and patience, seasoning and care.
Luciano Pavarotti once said “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
I believe the same can be said about friendship and I’m very happy to belong to a group that encourages its members to stop whatever they are doing and devote attention to both.