Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Foodies

The Foodies

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." ~Virginia Woolf, English writer

Everyone asks me how I found out I had colorectal cancer. I think back on what lead up to me making the first few doctors' appointments, and I realize the one symptom that compelled me to dial the phone: appetite. "Loss of appetite" is one of the many symptoms listed when one Googles colorectal cancer. Here's the thing--I love food! I love to eat. My favorite memories of falling in love with Michael are of us eating at fancy restaurants. We love Rats in Hammilton, Vetri in Philly, Bibou in Philly, and of course hometown burger joints like the Pour House in Westmont (where we met). There are a hundred other restaurants I could name, not to mention Michael's cooking at our house. I will eat anything, except pineapple on pizza (okay, okay, Joe). So when Michael made a zucchini pasta with turkey sausage that looked and smelled incredible, but I couldn't bring the fork to my mouth, I made a doctor's appointment the next day.

When Michael and I were only dreaming of having kids, we would plan to eat dinner as a family at a specific time and at our dining room table. But when Zoe was born, our schedules and figuring out how to be parents made us laugh at those innocent dreams. Ha! In 2018, when Emmy was born and Michael had surgery, Timber Creek provided us with delivered meals and Michael and I literally saw our dreams come true. The delivered meals made sitting down to dinner as a family in our dining room a reality. The four of us have had a family meal at our table every night (when Michael is not at the firehouse) since our first meal was delivered.

So in the midst of the pandemic and my diagnosis, I want to thank the people who have not only provided food, but have provided DELICIOUS food! These friends have made it possible for us keep our family dinners and have given Michael a break from having to be the James Beard quality chef that he is.

First, Abbe Elliott (who will be getting her own post soon) organized the staff at Timber Creek and orders food from Rent-A-Chef in Haddonfield every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We recommend the fajitas! The rice is especially delicious.

Immediately after hearing of my diagnosis, Abbe's mom, Paulie Bucholski, made a lasagna that lasted us for 5 days. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was the best lasagna we've ever had! My girls loved it for lunch and asked for it for dinner during that entire week. When I moved to South Jersey in the early 2000s, I moved away from my family and the Bucholskis really adopted me. I went the their family holidays and birthdays consistently for almost 5 years. Receiving that lasagna from Mrs. B was like my version of getting a home-cooked meal from mom.

One of the saddest parts of the quarantine is that we won't get to celebrate the retirements of some friends who were already planning their leaves before we closed. One of those friends is Lisa Draper, a Timber Creek counselor. I have known, laughed with, cried with, and confided in Lisa Draper since I started teaching at Timber Creek. Along with the counseling department, Lisa provided meals from Scarpinatos in Washington Township. She drove them over and left them on my doorstep. We are definitely adding Scarpinatos to the list of restaurants we'll be visiting after the quarantine is lifted. And I'm definitely adding Lisa to the list of people to give a huge hug when social distancing is done.

One of the things that has touched my heart the most is the well-wishes and love I've received from the staff at Triton and Highland. Years ago, I did a presentation at NCTE (National Conventing of Teachers of English) and one of my presentation partners was Beth Marks. We spent one weekend together and I see her at a few district-wide in-services a year, but nevertheless, Beth takes the cake with the meals she provided. She MADE a white bean chili, several loaves of crusty white bread, cookies with browned butter, and delicious tortilla chips. She packed all of this up and included a beautifully written, heartfelt card and drove it to my house. That kind of generosity and care is what will make the "new normal" a reality we all want to live. We were not only fed, but we were inspired by that meal.

So if you read this blog, you likely know Lauren Curiale (Birm) and if you don't know her, please find her on social media ASAP because her sidewalk chalk art is out-of-this-world. Lauren will likely get her own post soon, too, because I count her among my closest friends even though I haven't gotten to really see her in years. We both went and had kids at the same time and now have two toddlers a piece. Before kids, Lauren and her husband, Gabe were our favorite double-date buddies. The Curiales were always ready to visit any yummy Italian restaurant with these DiVietros and we'd talk it up, like good Italians, the whole time. So of course, after hearing about my diagnosis, Lauren and Gabe dropped off a gift card to Bruno's, our favorite pizza place. We're using it again tonight!

Speaking of good Italians, Pat Tarricone, who is more than a secretary at Timber Creek, has had her own share of family medical drama over the past few years. Her husband, Vince, is now doing well, but it was a little dicey there for a while. Even when Pat is dealing with her own woes, she is basically my personal counselor. I wander down to her office and sit at her desk to complain on a weekly basis. She listens and provides insight and laughs and that alone is worth a thank you note on this blog. But of course, she and Vince sent us a GrubHub gift card, too, because the generosity of every person at Timber Creek is abundant.

Bon Appetit, friends!

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