Friday, September 18, 2009

A little Southern Hospitality in Ireland

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I had kind of a short day today. My finger seems to be much improved. No bloody sheets when I woke up this morning. The main attraction today was dinner. Zach and I met the Kesters at 5:30 at the bridge. Mrs. Kester wanted to get some pictures while the sun was in a good place, so we walked around the river area for a bit before heading to their place for dinner. It was nice two bedroom cottage with a patio shared with next door. Billy, a well-behaved black lab, patrolled the back patio and even joined us for dinner. When we arrived Mrs. Kester poured some bitter lime seltzer for everyone and we sat at the table on the patio drinking and eating pita bread and hummus. The seltzer was really good. She apologized, but told us they did not drink alcoholic beverages. I was quite fine with that, but I had brought a bottle of wine. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I felt like it was customary back home to do something like that, so I had it just in case. Upon hearing that, I just didn’t mention the wine and enjoyed the seltzer instead. It was easy to carry on a conversation with them. We talked about a lot of things. Mr. Kester is currently at Washington and Lee University. He teaches accounting and financial classes. He has taken a lot of sabbaticals, and every year they spend June in Slovenia and August in Australia as part of his teaching agenda. They’ve been to at least Fiji and Singapore for his teaching and have done ample traveling. We talked about skydiving and scuba diving. The latter of which he has much experience, and the former of which he hopes to do. I recommended both! Zach and I discovered that we both took fencing from Coach Miller at Carolina, just different classes, but the same year. I also discovered that the Kesters were in Florence, Italy, during the time I was last summer and we all enjoyed La Carraria – the gelato place I visited multiple times a week for the best priced and most delicious flavors. We could have been in the same place at the same time! They seemed to really enjoy Montepulciano. That was one of my favorite little hill towns as well, but when I was there most of it was closed down for the mid day siesta.

Mrs. Kester talked about traveling when her boys were younger. They were coming back from Singapore by way of Greece to visit a relative doing some excavating in the country. They then went on a European vacation that was done as a package, but it was so many days of a rental car and then so many days of trains but you got to design the package how you wanted to. She said it was years ago and couldn’t remember the company they did it with. To be exact is was 1989 and Communism had just fallen. Budapest was on their itinerary right before one of her sons turned 16 where she planned to celebrate in Lucerne, Switzerland. Mr. Kester ended up pulling his back in Hungry and was unable to complete the rest of the journey. Uneasy about the medical care in the rather unstable (especially at that time) country where nurses really were wearing the white dress and go-go boots, Mr. Kester got his plane ticket changed for an earlier flight into New York. The rest of the family changed direction and flew later from Amsterdam to make it in time for Mr. Kester’s surgery in The States. Quite an adventure if you ask me. She said they were in the clinic in Hungry getting him checked and they administered a shot of pain killer, but that left them wondering if they had changed the needle because while waiting they saw a drug addict go in crazy and come out calm and motioning he got a shot for a fix. Scary stuff, but everything turned out ok.

For dinner we had a Moroccan salad consisting of carrots, oranges and black olives. We had rice with mushrooms and something else. The meat was meatballs Mr. Kester had rolled with a special spicy spice from Melbourne, but it was Lebanese I think. It was all very good, but I had filled up on lime seltzer and black currant juice. The black currant juice was very syrupy, so we added apple juice and seltzer to it. The food was unique to my stomach, but tasty; however, dinner conversation turned to talking about trying new foods and eating foreign meats as well as the occasional stomach problems which can arise, but shouldn’t cause one to forego trying new things. This is all true, but it wasn’t the best thing to think about at that time for me. I started feeling a little queasy myself. I took a break from eating, but finished my plate. It had gotten a little chilly (but no rain!!), so we moved inside for dessert. Mrs. Kester offered for Zach and me to go through a movie collection she picked up at a thrift shop and borrow what we liked. I picked out a Sophia Loren movie, a movie with Michelle Pfeffier and The Nephew with Pierce Brosnan (set in Ireland). For dessert she had a warm apple pie and cinnamon/cardamom tea. The apple pie was topped with real whipped cream, which we watched Mr. Kester make in a jar. It was brilliant. I make my own whipped cream as well – 1pint of whipping cream, ¾ c. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla, but I always need a mixer to make it or it is usually too soupy. They used a jar to shake it in and it worked just as well. I’m glad to have discovered that trick. That was the first time I’ve ever had apple pie, and it was actually pretty good. I doubt I’d like just any apple pie, but this one was right tasty. Also, my first tea experience outside of a chi tea. I’ve had two kinds of chi. One Lori makes that is really good and kind of creamy, and one I had at a cafĂ© in Chapel Hill that I couldn’t even drink it was so bad. I need to know how Lori makes hers.

Overall we stayed at the Kester’s till 10pm making it a good four hours with them. It was so nice of them to have invited us over. That was a meal I’ll never forget because of the superb hospitality and conversation.

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