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April 13, 2011

Act 3, Scene 3: Luncheon at the New Court Hotel

If you’ve ever read O Henry’s, “A Gift of the Magi,” you’ll understand.
Two young newlyweds make huge sacrifices to enable them to buy gifts for each other. Their sacrifices made the gifts they received useless. It’s a lovely story about giving. And that’s what happened to me last Sunday.

Paul and I had chugged into Abergavenny in our wreck and even found a free parking spot on Saturday. Breezing through the market town we picked up rashers of bacon and three homemade pork sausages from Sausage Man, fresh veggies from Veggie Lady, farm fresh butter and eggs from – you guessed it — the Butter and Egg People. After a stop for coffee and toasted tea cakes with our friends Malcolm and Pat, we putt-putted back to our hilltop aerie to watch the sheep.

Sunday morning dawned rainy and cloudy but the haze lifted by late morning and Paul went off to get a haircut. I took our purchases from yesterday and decided to have a lovely Welsh breakfast ready for him when he returned. Now, a Welsh breakfast isn’t just bacon and eggs. It’s bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, planks of toast, fried eggs and beans. Yes, you read that right, beans.

The sausages browned slowly on top of the stove. The tomatoes were grilling. The
bacon, not the thin, skinny strips found in America, but long, wide cuts of
pork, sizzled. Mushrooms were sautéing a la Julia Child (if you’ve never made
mushrooms from her recipe, you haven’t lived! (Turn to page 513, top, in the
“40th Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French
Cooking.”) Toast popped out of the toaster and was waiting to be slathered
in the fresh butter. The air in the kitchen was swimming in the aroma of
breakfast as found only in the UK. I sautéed away, humming and happy in my
work. Until Paul came home.

Haircut? Good. There was still some hair left on his head. But while in the barber chair
he’d struck up a conversation and learned about a good little restaurant in
Usk. And since it was Mothering Day (the UK equivalent of Mother’s Day) he
thought I deserved a nice Sunday lunch – out. Reservations were made and he
burst through the door all smiles, so pleased with himself and his plans for
the afternoon. Until that aroma hit him.

He was delirious to see and smell all his favorite foods grilling, sizzling, roasting
and toasting. There’s nothing like a good meal to make your man raise his
plumage in appreciation and strut around the room. Until he realized the

Paul got one of those crazy grins on his face that made him look like the little boy he once was. You know the type — one sock up, one sock down, always getting into mischief. The grin explained itself when he told me about our luncheon reservations, set for, yes,  – 1 ½ hours away!  What could I do but laugh.  At the two of us, standing at the crossroads, each with a gift in hand.

We compromised. We ate half of the breakfast and then went out for lunch! The
other half would be saved for dinner. As Yogi Berra once said: “When you
come to a fork in the road, take it.” We did. We’d had our Magi moment and
made the best of it. Thank you, Paul, for a lovely day. And Happy Mothering Day
to all who celebrate!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Malcolm permalink
    April 13, 2011 7:25 pm

    Question the Rabbi whats to know what happened to the black pudding?

  2. April 19, 2011 3:07 pm

    oh what a nice story! I wish I could have smelled all those wonderful things frying that I don’t usually cook! Love thick cut bacon as a treat once in awhile. I liked your very fond description of your sweetheart Paul as he wanted to give you his surprise. The give and take of love when you’re together.

  3. Sal Davis permalink
    May 8, 2011 9:49 am

    Oh that’s a nice story.

    And it’s the US equivalent of Mothering Sunday today so here’s hoping you have a nice rerun with him cooking the breakfast this time.

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