Now Serving: Fruit Salad

Vaite Zests a Lemon While Cadence and a Nameless Dinosaur Observe.
Independence Day, 2012.

Careful Preparations
My niece Vaite offered to make fruit salad when our pastor and his family came for brunch during her visit. I was relieved: my arthritic hands fatigue before much peeling and chopping is done, these days, and I could trust her to prepare a tasty salad while I baked a strata and fried heaps and heaps of bacon.

And I would enjoy her company in the kitchen. She’d endured heartbreaks since our last visit 18 months earlier. A love had left, life had taken on a greenish tinge, unexpected difficulties had rutted the path she walked. She was coming through these trials now, rerighting herself, reclaiming her plans for her future.

I wanted to keep her very, very close to me.

I’d brought home summer’s best: I lined up watermelon, nectarines, plums, and berries, along with seedless grapes and bananas, next to the cutting board and armed her with a chef’s knife. I’d watched her expertly zest a lemon a few days earlier, so I knew she could handle a good knife.

Confident in her skill, I turned to other tasks while she prepared the fruit. I set the table, peered into the oven to make sure the strata wasn’t too brown, rotated bacon through the frying pan and onto paper towels to drain. I checked the cinnamon rolls she and I had made to ensure they were rising properly; we’d pop them into the oven last, so they’d be warm for our meal.

When I ran out of things to do I absentmindedly wiped my hands on my apron, mildly anxious.

Because when we share hospitality, the food tastes better if I fret a bit.

When I make fruit salad, I wash all the fruit, then cut it into chunks, toss it together in a bowl, and I’m done. Vaite is taking a long time to chunk up a little fruit, I mused, as I turned bacon and checked the casserole.

“Tatie*,” she said, “Do you have a vanilla bean?”

I did. Her mother had brought me some on her last visit from Tahiti, so I fetched one from the spice cupboard and handed it over. As I passed her the long, fragrant bean, I looked at her work.

She’d peeled the nectarines. She’d peeled the plums. (She’d peeled the bananas, too, but I’d expected that.) She’d diced all the fruits into perfect small cubes. 

She’d split every green grape into quarters. The cubes of fruit were smaller than the grape wedges. I stopped and watched her work as she split the vanilla bean open and scraped the sticky seeds from the leathery pod.

I’d never seen such a beautiful fruit salad. I told her so.

“Tatie,” she told me. “If I’m going to make it, I should  make it as best as I can, right?” 
“Right.” Yes, sweet girl. You’re going to make it. And you’ll make it as best you can. 
Vaite’s Fruit Salad.

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)

*Tatie: French for auntie.

Linking up with Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays. You’ll drop by for a bite, won’t you?