Last month there was a tragedy which one of the senior black belts from our sister dojo was killed in a car accident. Not merely limiting the tragedy to the premature end of a joyous soul, the event has left behind a widow (also a member of our dojos) who is expecting with child. At New Year’s we had expressed a wish to host a dojo gathering at our house as a post-Christmas feast, and Josh, our senior black belt, said that the dojo was planning a memorial seminar in honor of Thai’s life and wondered if we would consider hosting a lunch after the seminar. Without hesitation we put ourselves and abilities in the dojo’s service. Even as I write this, now over a month after initially hearing of Thai’s demise, I get the empty pangs of sadness to think of his departure and of the void left in the lives of Sensei, the Culver City dojo, and most of all, Kate, the soon-to-be mother of his daughter. As we try to live in present, and celebrate the life Thai had, we are coping in the way D. & I know best, to cook.
As the event approached, the dojo sent out an evite to spread the word. D. had been the first to see it and had left a message to let me know of what was in store for us. After being posted for only a couple hours, “15 people have said they are going to attend. Yeah.” “2 can’t make it. Ohhh, too bad. I’m not sure if we know who they are…” Keep in mind, D. is new to evites, since anytime we get them we always have to work and are unable to attend. The next time she checked, “1 more is coming. Nice.” “What is this? Not Yet Relied? 242!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!” I don’t think she realized that the evite would be going out to a very broad email list. Our garden is good sized, but that is So. Cal “good sized.” The largest gathering we’ve had at this point was almost 40 people. This feast was sizing up to be of epic proportions.
Heart attack aside, we are planning on a feast of 60-70 people or so this Saturday (today is Thursday). As we stand now, 50 have replied that they plan on attending. We began the battle plan last week, planning the menu, making the sauces that hold up, and the initial house cleaning. As the days passed, the screws tightened and the pace quickened. Yesterday the final menu was written, and this morning provisions were purchased, and the hammer brought down on the house cleaning. “No using the second bathroom until Saturday!” There will be some cleaning that will have to wait until last minute due to 2 large canines that share our residence, but most is in good shape. Good thing we have people over or else the house would never get this clean.
Starting at about 8:30 tonight, after getting home from the nail shop, D. began the desserts. After training at the dojo, I was home around 9:00 and jumped into the fray. “We need more baking powder and coconut.” “You got it Champ.” So off I went to Stater Bros., got the goods, picked up a pizza (funny how we never have anything to eat while fixing these feasts), and returned to the battle. Cooking was in full swing and the house smelled sweet and warm as a bakery. She had laid the counters with newspaper (to make clean-up a snap. Old feast prep custom), and she was ripping through the creations of sweetness. Time to turn on some cooking music (but not too loud, D. just spent the day surrounded by the cackling of manicurists.)
The 1-2 punch of Team T. D. was in action. One cleaned while one cooked, then the other dried the dishes while the other cooked. “We’re running out of flour.” “Shit, I can’t believe we missed that.” One more Andretti spin over to Stater Bros. before they closed for the night. Good thing I like to drive fast. Grabbed a couple other staples just to fortify our rations, then zoomed back home. Back to the 1-2 Team T. D. punch, now with D. nearly complete on the cakes and cupcakes. More dishes cleaned, then I started on the tarts. More dishes dried and D. prepped the dips. A couple more sauces, last round of dishes cleaned & dried, and newspaper rolled up and thrown away. Kitchen is all clean; desserts, dip, marinades, and sauces are all done. Plus we have leftover pizza for breakfast. That was easy. All in 4 1/2 hours. Not too bad. Time to write this post then get a little sleep. The real cooking begins tomorrow.
-T. of Team T. D.