Surprise, it's Sethie

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So on late Monday afternoon, Becca calls me up and tells me that Seth will be getting into town in about an hour. This was the first I'd heard of this, and I'd hoped to have my iBook fixed before I saw him next so I could give it to him. So while I waited for him to arrive, I started the long process of taking the laptop apart. When Seth called me from Becca's house, I'd gotten about a third of the way through the crunchy outer shell into the chewy center and was becoming exhausted by the trying steps of disassembly.

I went to Becca's where we hung out for a while, playing with Ashira, until the little baby got tired and fussy. The strategy for getting Boobalah to sleep was to cart her around in her stroller, and indeed, she calmed down as soon as she was seated and started moving. Soon enough, all five of us (Avraham, Rebecca, Seth, Ashira, and me) trundled out to the street with the stroller, in search of a restaurant for dinner. We decided on the little cafe in the Canaan Gallery, as Becca and I had enjoyed it the last time we were there. Unfortunately, Ashira still wasn't asleep by the time we got there, so Avraham quickly chose a sandwich and salad off the menu and took her out to ride around some more. The rest of us each ordered one of the three available flavors of quiche and split them equally. I got a banana milk shake which the others sipped. Seth complained about the unoriginality of the menu, and we generally chatted the evening away.

When we got back to the Loewenthal residence, I was pretty tired, but didn't decline when the suggestion of a movie arose. The vote was cast and "Beaches" and "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" were discarded in favor of "Prizzi's Honor". This movie stars Jack Nicholson and dates back to a time when he looked much younger. It turned out to be an awful film. The acting was terrible, the plot went nowhere, the succession of scenes dragged on far too long, it concluded on a jarring, tonally inconsistent note, and the consequent moral message was just broken. The group broke up and went to bed.

Late next morning (i.e. today), I went back to Becca's courtyard to join her and Seth in deciding how we'd spend the day. A few ideas were tossed around, we lounged in lazy deliberation, and at long last settled on having Seth cook up a gourmet meal for us. Off to the supermarket we rode in Becca's car, putting Ashira into her long overdue morning nap with the vibrations of the trip. She slept like an angel for most of the shopping, nestled in her car seat, which was, in turn, lain at the bottom of the shopping cart. We carefully piled the groceries all around the sleeping babe, and toward the end of our tour around the aisles, Ashira was nearly buried in packaged foodstuffs. It was so cute that Rebecca had to run back to the car to fetch the camera so that she could take pictures (which should appear on the Internet sometime after Becca starts building herself a Web site).

When we got home, the cooking frenzy began. Seth started frying leeks, and I ran off to the Ari mikveh to toivel a few of Becca's new knives and dishes so that we could use them for the cooking. (The kaylim mikveh by the Sanz shul has been putrid all summer, so Becca's been lacking a convenient place to toivel new utensils.) When I got back, Seth put me to work shelling pistachios, which I did slowly since I was still baked from rambling out while the sun was high in the sky. After that job was complete, I took charge of entertaining Ashira while Becca and Seth cut philo dough and filled it with the concoctions that Seth had compounded. After the delicacies were baking in the oven, I tossed some asparagus into the steamer while Seth went out to the courtyard to read and Rebecca sat in front of the computer as she tried to feed Ashira a snack of breastmilk. It was not long until everything was finished, and we summoned Avraham down from the gallery.

Set before us were lovely little delicacies of crispy philo dough, half wrapped around a filling made of leeks and Roquefort blue cheese, the other half filled with fried portobello mushrooms and crushed pistachios and cashews, with asparagus on the side. I must say that it was scrumptious. Seth's skill has increased dramatically during the time he's spent cooking as a professional. This was a dish that Seth had never made before, something he just made up on the spot. As in music, a chef's skill is often evoked most impressively through improvisational performance. It's a little hard to go back to my own humble cooking after such a gourmet repast.

I did my first shift of the afternoon's work at Becca's computer, and the rest of the day wound to an end playing with the ever-boisterous Ashira in the cool air of the guest bedroom. Seth took the 7pm bus back to Jerusalem, and I went home to catch my second shift of work. If my plans work out, I'll repay Seth's visit by staying with him for this coming Shabbos, bearing a freshly repaired laptop for him to use and ready to perform an autopsy on his old machine.