veni, vidi, vici, or, va va voom, va va vegans: part one

Cornelius welcomes Benjamin Bear to the den. Thanks so much, Geri!!

She came, she saw, she conquered!!

And she wore bearfoot slippers, of course.

photo by David at wishiwerebaking.

Last week, we had the distinct pleasure of playing with hosting Tanita S. Davis (winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award for Mare’s War), her husband David (world’s best baker), and her lovely mom, Geraldine (champion hugger and all-around beautiful person) at our humble home in the woods.

You may remember my excitement and wee trepidation regarding the “Coming of the Vegans.” To prepare for this momentous event, the alphabet soup kitchen helpers thoroughly brushed their fur, hosed down cleaned, polished, and prettified the house from top to bottom, stocked up on edible goodies, and chanted “lemons lemons lemons” from morning till night.

Yay! Company’s coming for lunch! And we’ve been promised a lemon cake!

We decided on a “picnic theme” and recruited the resident ants:

We brought in a ringer Vegan Ant from out of town.

Ever defiant, Albert the Exercise Bear brought his own ham and cheese sandwich:

We kept the menu simple but symbolic: Homemade Veggie Soup (house recipe) meets Lunch Salad (guest recipe created by Chef David, who’s rather tall for a hobbit).

As soon as those rascals breezed in, I knew all would be well. Squeals, screams, hugs, big smiles. Remember how I was hoping Tanita’s mom would be a good hugger? I got my wish! Both Len and I felt an instant familiarity with her. As for David and Tanita, they are the kind of guests we appreciate most — made themselves right at home, so helpful in the kitchen, we’d like them to live here permanently and cook all our meals. ☺

Do not be fooled by Tanita’s angelic smile.

This entire fiasco actually began a couple of months ago, when Tanita left a comment asking if she could visit my bear slippers. Like Cinderella’s after the ball, they just happened to fit perfectly — I had found my Poetry Princess at last! So while she checked out the phone booth,

 Tanita interrogates Aunt Lucy.

David assembled the salad:

We prefaced the meal with our Scots Bear on bagpipes, who refused to be silenced until his fanfare was complete.

There’s more to this mustard than meets the eye.

The salad was light and refreshing, consisting of chopped cucumber, tomato, red pepper, carrots, Vidalia onion, chives, olives, fresh basil, feta cheese, and zucchini. The dressing: David’s creamy cucumber vinaigrette (with lime juice à la Tanita). There’s a photo of the salad along with the recipe at Hobbits, Home and Abroad. It calls for “salad onions,” which I misinterpreted as sweet onions, hence the Vidalia. They should actually be spring onions, or as they’re known in Hawai’i, green onions.


As for the soup, the guests were asked to make a word from their randomly ladled alphabets if they wanted dessert. Possessing an extraordinarily high degree of literary acumen, all three set to work and succeeded admirably (I have never witnessed such spellbinding concentration and diligence at the table). Can you guess who made each of these words?

Then, with the perfect excuse to use my ice cream dishes and spoons, blueberry cobbler was served.


‘Twas the fine company that made this meal, which was flavored with lots of laughter, good storytelling (I got the scoop on how David and Tanita met!), startling revelations (a Raggedy Ann doll was involved), a good sport (David was “honored” with the trick mustard and salt and pepper shakers that shook themselves), and characteristic modesty (early that morning, Tanita rocked her CSK acceptance speech adorned in a golden pashmina, but refused to provide a re-enactment).

We later supped at Busboys and Poets in Arlington, as per Sara’s excellent suggestion.

But this was just the beginning of our visit. There was still that little matter of Lemon Cake. And the traveling slippers. And somelady’s underwear (or lack thereof). And lying. But you’ll have to wait till next time. ☺

Veni, vidi, vici, a.k.a. in virginia: vegans, vinaigrette, no vidalia, no vampires.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.