Lunch was always raw almonds, millet, greens… which funnily enough seems quite trendy and acceptable now. But back in the age of processed foods? It was simply unheard of.
Being big foodies, Naomi and I both were quite picky about the reception menu, and it more than exceeded our expectations. A huge pile of stone crab claws, literally four feet high, and every kind of seafood pulled directly out the nearby Caribbean waters were exquisite. The amount of food was overwhelming and every bite of it delicious.
When I came home, I would leaf through one of the many cookbooks in the house and settle on one of the most complicated, involved recipes I could find. I only chose dishes that before the accident I simply had not had the time to tackle. I was free to spend all day preparing coq au vin or cassoulet. My entire challenge for every afternoon was to make dinner. Trust me: at the time, creating these dinners was always a four- or five-hour ordeal.
I mixed and measured, sliced, chopped, and pureed. The math involved in measuring ingredients or adapting recipes gave my brain a good workout. Cooking is all about timing and multitasking. It was not easy, and there were some major mishaps along the way, but my reward was usually a delicious dinner. Meal preparation became a huge part of my rehabilitation and something that carried on well after my recovery. To this very day, when I'm home, I'm the cook.
I was spending all my afternoon in our big old kitchen with the original 1928 cabinetry - though it had a modern range and refrigerator. It was such a fantastic room, the best place in the house. Naomi and I both loved coking or just hanging out in there.
One day we made roasted garlic meatballs, a phenomenal recipe but ridiculously complicated and time-consuming. Somehow, we didn't realize that we would wind up with thirty-six meatballs. We were faced with this ridiculously huge mound of meatballs. "Crap, honey, what are we going to do with all this freaking food?" I asked her.
"I know!" Naomi said. "I'll run over and ask the neighbors if they'd like to have dinner with us." Jack and Dennis were partners, in work in life; we'd spoken briefly to them out on the street the day we moved in. I thought inviting them was a great idea so we both put on our shoes, went down the fifty-two steps, and crossed the street to knock on our neighbors' door.
"Hi, guys! We made way too much food. Can you come over and help us eat it?" Our neighbors accepted and showed up a few minutes later. I headed to the wine cellar and started pulling corks, and dinner with our new friends began. It turned into an unbelievable five-hour-long feast, and they literally rolled themselves home. (It wasn't until years later that they told us they had already eaten a big meal that night, but wanted to connect, so they came over for dinner anyway and stuffed down some meatballs.)
After that we saw them frequently - generally starting around happy hour. I'd get a cheese plate and pâté going, and they would drop by after work.
Jason Priestley, Jason Priestley: A Memoir