Saturday, December 5, 2009

Once Upon A Yogurt Part IV

I am convinced that this dinner was unique! But very the account for yourselves and see...!

A Dinner Not To Be Forgotten

Sometime later the gong sounded and still half-asleep I got out of bed. Somehow just being around other people, I felt better and slowly became aware of a delicious aroma that wafted through the hallways of the splendid villa. As I padded down the curved, marble steps to join the two couples, I felt hungry for the first time in months.

The table had been laid out beautifully by Juju, the maid. Each setting looked elegant and had a number of fancy utensils to eat with and a crystal goblet to drink from. My all-time favorite meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, green beans and homemade bread sat within reach. Two pitchers sat planted at either end of the large table, one containing fresh pomegranate juice and the other ice water. “Oh Meryl, bless you!” I cried in anticipation. She smiled over at me, “We’ll get you better yet,” she beamed, then placed a chubby hand over her husband’s, “Marvin, will you do the honors to say grace?” and bowed her head.

“A-MEN!” Lydia echoed loudly as if God might be hard of hearing.

They began to pass the food around, but just as I was about to ask for the roast beef, Lydia puckered her lips, “Oh, no, no, NO! Don’t even go there!”

I looked up in surprise. Was she talking to me?

"Juju —” she called, “What IS taking that lazy woman so long?!” She got up to search for her. “Juju prepared something special for you,” Lydia called from the kitchen.

"For ME? Why would she make something special for me?"

Lydia looked at me as if I had lost my senses.

Was this my last meal or something? Was I that far gone? I was not going to eat whatever special dish she made for me if it wasn't anything like this wonderful-smelling beef dinner...mmh! Ah, such delicious aromas.

Then the torture began...

First, the bread passed by me as if in slow motion, and each person took a piece. Frank slathered his with butter, as did Marvin after him. “I think I’ll have me some a those fresh green beans,” Marvin chuckled. And so it continued, oohing and ahhing with each exquisite dish that passed by me. Meryl looked at me, then at Lydia who came back in the room with Juju, who was carrying a small jar of yogurt in her hand. I loathed yogurt. Was this some sadistic game? “I think I’d prefer some of that roast beast and potatoes,” I croaked, my eyes fixed on Meryl.

“Well, dear, maybe it’ll be okay to have …”

“Do you want that girl to be sick as a dog right here and now? And up all night to boot? Lor-dee, Meryl! There is no way she can eat that heavy food after not keeping anything down for months on end! Juju went to a lot of effort to make this delicious plain yogurt for her, at my request.”

Meryl shrugged apologetically as Juju placed the single jar of creamy white substance next to my plate. I stared at it as silence surrounded me. How could I bring myself to eat it?

Well Lydia, now I do believe we have some papaya that would sweeten it up just a little and that would be very good for her, too,” Meryl remarked kindly.

“Well, Juju, go on and get it,” Marvin prompted.

The clinking of silverware resumed and I sat stunned. Could this really be happening? Each person seemed to remark on the delicious attributes of the individual dishes I could not touch. It’s like a movie, a spoof, a comedy!

“If that girl spends the whole night in the toilet again, Frank is not going to teach for her! You know that, don’t you? Let’s be certain. The good Lord says, ‘He who does not what He commands will harvest the results in his own day,’ “

“Yes, Lydia, we know.” Marvin rolled his eyes over at Meryl, before plopping a full helping of whipped potato into his mouth, “You hear that?” he asked, turning to me and winking.

I nodded meekly as the papaya arrived. I picked up a spoon and tried to look grateful for this special meal prepared for me. It took quite a long time for me to cut up the papaya but once I did, there was no other course of action but to pour the plain yogurt over it on my plate. I looked down at my plate. I am here in this beautiful house with all these delicious smells and here I sit forced to eat the food I hate the most!

I tried to ignore the delicious aromas around me and slid my spoon into the yogurt for my feast.

That marked the beginning of what would later become my love affair with homemade yogurt mixed with sweet orange papaya, for that’s all I ate until I finally beat Indonesia’s dreaded Salmonella food poisoning. I learned to love it.

I also lived to tell the tale.

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