Please welcome Passionate Cook Jianne Carlo to the Cafe!
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About a year ago, my best friend, Tamarind, had a breast cancer scare. Next thing we knew several of both our co-workers were facing the same threat. All together, we were seven women waiting for biopsy reports.
Two of the seven did, in fact, have tumors. One had a radical double mastectomy, the other a lumpectomy. Then, one woman lost a son and another a treasured nephew. Both men, who had just turned twenty-one, were the victims of drunk drivers. Tamarind and I then lost the third in our ‘Three Musketeers’ friendship to fibroid, lung, and ovarian cancer. It seemed tragedy had dropped a veil over all of us.
We were both reeling, but our friends who’d had surgery needed support. All seven of us pitched together and supplemented family as necessary with providing food, transportation, and simply being there. Fast forward nine months – physical healing was complete, but the emotional scars had left everyone drained. Tamarind decided to host a tea where empathy would be the main focus.
It was the beginning of our ‘EmphaTeas’. Once a quarter, one of us hosts an English High Tea. For each event we invite women whose lives have been touched by illness or heartbreak.
For the very first tea, I served my dish-Date Me, Baby!
I had recently gone to my first college football game (what a thrilling experience – such energy) and we’d taken my son out for dinner. The restaurant served an appetizer with figs and goat cheese and prosciutto. I liked the dish, but thought it would go better with other cheeses and different cuts of bacon. So, on our ‘date night’ (pun so intended), I played with different versions of dried fruit, cheeses, and pork products (salami, Serrano ham). Date Me, Baby! is the final product.
The core seven participants have grown into twelve, and we now have tea once a month. It’s a couple of hours where we shut out the world, relax, and try to help each other. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to our EmphaTea escape every four weeks.
Date Me, Baby! turned out to be so popular that it’s now served at every EmphaTea. Each woman puts her different spin on the recipe. One likes the dates with blue cheese and crisp prosciutto, another uses gorgonzola and cream cheese and pork belly bacon, and our resident vegan adds hot pepper to the cheese mixture and tops the date with kale chips.
We’ve all agreed to make our EmphaTeas a priority. Husbands, kids, job responsibilities, all are relegated to the back burner for around two hundred minutes once a month. It seems like such an insignificant event, but we take a step out of time into a slow, unhurried, soothing world. In some ways, the English did it right. The ritual of tea, the act of sitting down amidst the frenzy of life, and dawdling over a fragrant cup of Earl Grey with friends is to be savored, every single second.
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