I am delighted to find a way to offset the dreaded Sunday blues I have been feeling by having a “framily” dinner – a dinner with friends who are like my family.
This Sunday sadness is an odd phenomenon for me. For many years I thought it was because on Sunday afternoon I remembered I had to go to work on Monday to a job I hated. As time passed and I changed jobs, then changed jobs again, I was in a series of long-term relationships with men who lived out of the City. Sundays meant either they left to go home, or I did, and there again leaving me feeling lonely at dinner and facing an evening of dread anticipating work.
Work got better but I was always seemed to end up alone Sunday night and in my societally-programmed brain Sundays are meant to be spent with family or friends, with a well anticipated family meal capping off the weekend’s adventures with each other, or hopefully, at the minimum, the successful completion of chores that inevitably pile up. But that is not my life, and now that I am single and even without a cat roommate I find the sorrow and loneliness is sometimes overwhelming. Some Sundays I even spent watching Hallmark Channel movies and dabbing at the eyes with tissue, such a deplorable state in which to find oneself. The Hallmark Channel!!
Last weekend however, I invited friends over for dinner and we had such a nice evening together, full of laughter, silliness and great food, even if it is a challenge to cook in my tiny kitchen astride a scooter. I realized, even after they went home, that I didn’t feel as lonely as I usually do, and this is because my dear friends are my family and that this simple family meal felt right and true and I felt like a member of a family, a family of friends, my “framily”.
I spoke honestly about my feelings over that dinner and found that some of my friends feel the same way. Either they’re not in a relationship right now, or their partner lives far away like mine used to, or the child custody arrangements mean half of the Sundays they say goodbye to their children and go home alone. I have proposed a standing Sunday dinner or midday supper going forward where we gather and relax and enjoy. I know it can’t happen every weekend but I hope it will.
This weekend, despite the 6.1 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area and severely damaged the town of Napa, we in SF were in good shape, a little shaken but not stirred, if you know what I mean. Saturday, before all of the excitement, I prepared an osso bucco with a large format beef shank from my amazing local butcher, 4505 Meats. I love making osso bucco and it is very nostalgic for me and I haven’t made it for four years.
I made a variation of my usual osso bucco and added shitakes and some local bell peppers, just because I had them, and used a bunch of whole carrots scattered across the top. Everything cooked away in the oven while I practiced crutching around the apartment.
I was so proud of myself for using crutches almost the entire day, except when I made myself a sandwich for dinner. It was quite a gourmet sandwich made from leftover smoked beef brisket but once I had made it I couldn’t figure out how to transport it to my dining table. I tried wrapping it in a paper towel but couldn’t hang onto it while holding onto the crutches and it fell on the floor, happily still wrapped up. Then I put it in waxed paper and tried sticking inside my tee shirt, but it fell out! So much for passing the pencil test then, I chuckled to myself. Then I put it in a ziplock baggie and held it in my teeth, like a dog. Utterly hilarious.
When my sandwich was done, so was the osso bucco and I let it cool a bit on the stove before packing it up for my friend’s place.
On Sunday, D___ made a gorgeous pot of polenta with lots of butter and cheese, and we reheated the sauce first to thicken it a bit then added the meat and carrots to warm up. While it was heating I chopped up a huge mound of gremolata, the magical mixture of garlic, lemon zest and parsley that is scattered over the top of the osso bucco and livens up the dish.
(once you make gremolata you will want to put it on everything)
Another friend made a beautiful salad of avocados and ripe tomatoes and brought some tomato basil bisque to start.
(from the Unsafeway, delicious!)
We sipped on Prosecco then rose, while the young man in the house enjoyed his milk in a wine glass.
(there is a huge mound of cheese-laden polenta under that sugo!)
There was a moment during dinner where the conversation just halted and we all felt so replete and blissed out. Having a luxurious and hearty mid-day meal on Sunday was so pleasant and relaxing, it was the perfect moment. Afterwards we chatted and played games and I knitted a bit while the sun streamed in the window while the room was chilled by the Pacific breezes. We all felt really happy! Mission accomplished!
Next weekend, tacos!