When Old Friends First Meet

Have you ever had a friend like this?  Someone you’ve known for so long that neither of you is sure whether it’s been ten years or twelve years.  Someone who remembers your birthday, always asks about your family, shares favorite recipes, and lives far away?  A friend who lives so far away, in fact, that although you’ve known each other for what seems like forever, you’ve never actually met?

Meet Heinz and Christine, as we just did.  After perhaps ten, perhaps twelve, years of an Internet-only relationship, Heinz beamed himself from the south of Germany to the south of France, and ended up with his charming wife and granddaughter at our lunch table.

The first few moments were a blur of sorting out our languages, adjusting our preconceptions to the reality of living, breathing persons, and focusing on the bright link that has kept us in touch for twelve years.  Or was it ten?

Although Heinz and I had a rich history together, especially a kitchen-variety history, it had all been told in writing.  It’s quite something else to hear the voice that speaks the words, and making the transition from pixels to sound waves was a lot like the difference between looking at these figs piled with foie gras and truffle mousse, and popping one or two into your mouth.  Or was it three? 

Because we’re both cooks, and cooks are always at their best when they’re around a table heaped with food and wine, soon the stories were tumbling out of us like a tangle of green vegetables over rare duck breast, which is to say juicily and refreshingly.  Satisfyingly, filling in the little empty corners in our understanding of each other until it seemed that we’d often sat together in just this way.  Or was it the wine?

And before we knew it the afternoon flowed into evening and we were still at the table, laughing and catching up on the things we hadn’t been able to talk about for lo these ten long years.  Or was it twelve?  No matter, because in any case we reset the clock today, and now we’ll count from this lunch forward.  And next time, it’s his turn to cook.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

7 Comments on “When Old Friends First Meet”

  1. Martin Says:

    Hello, I have been reading your blog for a while now. I love the food that you prepare,it all looks so wonderful. I was wondering if you could let me have your recipe for coleslaw that you made back on July 9th. My girlfriend saw it and would love to give it a try. Thank you.

  2. Giorgio Luzzatti Says:

    Abra, i have lost your email address when my computer crashed. If this reaches you, can you contact me and let me know how you guys are doing??


  3. Abra Bennett Says:

    Martin, The cole slaw is basically here http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_31299,00.html although I used red as well as green cabbage and a lot less carrot than Emeril suggests. I also couldn’t find celery seed and so used celery salt in place of the regular salt. It’s a really good recipe.

  4. Sue Geisler Says:

    Abra – found you – by accident! Is this the Heinz with wife Christina?

    I’d not heard from him in a long time and wondered how they were.

    So good to read your posts – a lot of years are under the bridge.

    Enjoy! I’ll read.


  5. Jeremy Newel Says:

    Heinz and I had a few interchanges long ago on the internet. I am in awe of his talent, as well as yours. How fabulous that you actually got to meet him! I’m sure that Christine was an added bonus. I remember when the grandchild was born!!

    And hello to Sue Geisler, another good friend from that period.

    Your French Letters, Abra, are more than you can imagine.


  6. Ujwala Samant Says:

    Hello Abra,

    Your blog is beautiful! I am well-chuffed at having “found” you after so many years. Ironically, you’re in France now and we just returned to NJ last year after 5 years in Lyon and London. We all miss being in France and will be back there once Nevenn is done with high school. I have fond memories of my time on Compuserve, and of you and Shel. I was telling friends of mine about your cooking, your pumpkin pie, your savoury bread pudding… murg dopiaza… cheers, Uju

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