Since my 70th birthday, the living room centerpiece each year has been the lighthouse that Mary had secretly constructed for the occasion by model-maker Kath Dalmeny. It’s full of symbolism, the details of which would put even a Freudian to sleep.
The tomatade on toast quickly disappears; I’ve barely time to photograph the first plate.
Here we are, helping ourselves to the rémoulade.
Come on, Mike, cheer up!
Warren, delayed by London Transport, makes up for it by reading a birthday poem he’d written for me on the slow train.
The moment of truth!
It’s too dark, crusty and thick for some tastes, but it’s the way I like it. All that collagen in the pigs’ feet makes it stick densely together. With only a kilo of dried beans to almost five kilos of meat, Atkins Diet followers—if there are any left—could call it hi-fat, lo-carb!
It’s accompanied by the sacred Bandol:
Next, Mary’s architectural triumph, the terrine des fruits…
…followed by the cake, a stormy sea surmounted by a lighthouse. (Having grown up in Provincetown, my early sensory memories are of lighthouses and foghorns.)
It’s a rich White Christmas cake full of candied fruits and nuts, similar to one my mother used to make, but this recipe came to Mary’s mother via a GI billeted in their road in Grimsby during WWII.
Finally, the desolation of a deserted battlefield. Roll on 2007!