Tonight I began the evening with a Whiskey Sour, a cocktail I went to bed thinking about last night. Whiskey, lemon juice, powdered sugar, egg white for froth - that seemed to be what I remembered.
So, tonight sitting quietly in the restaurant with my beloved whilst waiting for friends I ordered a whiskey sour and at the first sip was Proust-like taken back - in my case to a night in Greenwich Village many cocktails ago. A hot August night it was, walking around the Village with friends: those same friends who introduced me to Willa Cather; to the Village itself; to the first loft I ever saw; to Manhattan bars; to the Clam Broth House in Hoboken NJ; to the Garrison NY railroad station where I met Miss Dolly Levi; to Olana and the Hudson River School: to Hyde Park; and more importantly, to the richness of culture of the country I'd loved from afar but which in my British isolation had been taught to discount.
Willa Cather led me to Eudora Welty and she led me to .... well I could go on for hours about my love of American literature and the way the land and the people are invoked in such clear, simple ways: the people of the South, of Appalachia, of the West, of the far North - my love affair is long-standing and runs deep.
So, the Whiskey Sour, which in its Americanness evoked in me reminiscence, melancholy and a certain philosophical mood has left me wondering why I ever gave away Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock and O, Pioneers, these books I loved and had meant so much to me. That opening of the inner eye is now for other experiences but let me tell you when I first read O, Pioneers it was as if a whole new landscape had opened up for me - and it had in a way, for it was the landscape of the mind, my American mind.
It's good to go back, even years and many cocktails later.
Dinner? At Dogwood, was ham and pimento cheese blue grits, followed by a plate of seared foie gras with black pepper brioche French toast, fried quail egg, and truffled maple syrup. Wine for the four of us was a Luigi Bosca Malbec.