Twice a day, after their meals, Wolfie and Bisou chew a bone. Even though our house looks like a midden, with so many bones lying around, Wolfie and Bisou always chew the same bone, passing it back and forth between themselves. They make an amazing racket. After a long session of this, they fall over on their side and go to sleep.
This reminds me of feast-day meals in Catalonia, when I was a child. Epiphany, St. Joseph\’s, Easter, Corpus Christi, Saint John\’s–there was at least one every month, complete with office and store closings and huge family meals. These meals took place in the middle of the day, that is, two in the afternoon, in Spanish terms.
They would begin with an \”entremes\”: at least four kinds of olives, roasted sweet peppers, thinly sliced dry xorissos and butifarras, and some anchovies and capers to make sure you were thirsty enough to drink lots of vi blanc. A few leaves of endive, sprinkled with olive oil, and lots of fabulous crusty bread. Then there was a paella, bursting with fresh crayfish and clams and mussels, with some green peas for color. Chicken or rabbit would follow, with a tomato sauce and more bread to soak it up, accompanied by a glass of vi negre (red–not black–wine). Dessert varied according to the occasion: the ring-shaped Tortell de Reis for Epiphany, Crema Catalana (the best creme brulee you ever dreamed of) for Saint Joseph\’s, Mona de Pascua, a fancy cake crowned with a chocolate egg, for Easter. We (yes, even I) drank champagne with dessert. We didn\’t eat cheese–formatge–as part of a festive meal because we ate it on regular days.
But I digress. I meant to get to the post-prandial part, which consisted–though I wasn\’t allowed to participate, being a child–of coffee (strong, in tiny cups), brandy (in tiny glasses), and cigarettes or, on really big occasions, cigars. We would sit around the table, idly sweeping bread crumbs off the tablecloth (I used to eat every one I could find), and the grownups would sip, and smoke, and talk, and loosen their belts. And then everybody would go and take a nap.
Just like my dogs. And, just like my dogs, nobody was fat.