Sunday, September 16, 2012

Story of Two Cupcakes

Cupcake One
The table is loaded with salads, pasta, and cupcakes. I set my cupcakes on the bar and walk out to the deck. It is cool and dark. A fire burns and ash floats with each gust of wind. I pull a beer from a cooler and start chatting. Conversation begins, stalls, and resumes. Everyone seems to be connected with the art department.

I listen to a verbal explanation of a project and ask, "Is there a relationship between the character trapped in the fairy tale and your experience in life?" There is a slow smile and then more discussion. We talk about movies, swimming in a Russian lake, and then I drift along. I overhear, "all the hamburger buns are made with high fructose corn syrup." We talk about food. The hostess changes her outfit again. She has a wide smile and gives lots of hugs.

I take the tray of homemade mini chocolate cupcakes and waft the tray under the guests's noses; six disappear. People are huddled about smoking in the cool night air making small talk. I return the remaining cupcakes to the kitchen. Drinks are being poured near the sink. "What's your recipe for margaritas?" It involves organic lemonade. I shuffle out of the way.

I notice the host is wearing a Laguna Beach surf t-shirt and recollect the long board propped up on the front porch though there isn't an ocean for miles. "Do you surf?" He replies, "Oregon, California, Mexico, Baja." We chat geology and then earthquakes-- his mother called him after he experienced one in Mexico to find out what it was like whereas no one could reach me in Japan on 3/11. We moved onto insulation and getting off the grid. A man brings him a shot. He drinks it in one gulp without flinching and sets the glass quietly down. We wonder why so few people fail to insulate their houses and why there are no energy programs to help families purchase insulation to reduce winter electric bills and ultimately save energy for all. We touch on healthcare. I go home reeking of smoke, shower, and fall asleep.


A Day Later, Cupcake Two
I lean against the wall in a side aisle of a small theater. A fund raising presentation is underway with video clips of various community agencies that have received funding the past year. I am late and unwilling to search for a seat amongst the couples and groups of friends, besides the theater is packed. Afterwards I get a map for where I will eat dinner.

After a cocktail, mine being nonalcoholic sangria, we gather under the dimmed lights at the dining room table. The candles are lit, the china sparkles, the balloon wine glasses sit on long graceful stems. The food is prepared by a chef with mostly local ingredients, you know except the avocado in the gazpacho and the mango ice cream with the poached pears. The courses are served on small plates by kind, quiet women. There is tapenade, bread, and wine to fill in any crevices. I eat everything.

I over hear a woman discussing Tweeting. "Do you Tweet?" I ask. She replies, "No." I try, "Do you blog or Facebook?" "No, I don't have time for that," she says and sits back in her chair. I ask, "What do you do?" She answers succinctly, "I work." I ask about her work and think we are at last conversing. Suddenly she stops talking. She seems angry and tight. I am confused. The talk at the table is of history, art, sports. Each person at the table is connected by others-- neighbors, businesses, or children.

My favorite dish is a prosciutto cupcake. Line a cupcake pan with prosciutto, sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese or herbs, top with a raw medium sized egg, and bake at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes or until the egg is set to your desire.

Sometimes conversation is easy, sometimes you need to stick with the cupcakes.

Prosciutto Cupcake with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce