The oldest friend I have is Peggy Peebles. And I’m not talking about her age, which is the same as mine, but the fact that we met in the third grade, bonded and have been friends ever since. I can’t recall anyone who is not a relative who goes back that far. We both lost our fathers around that time and were raised by single parent teacher moms. We went to church camp together, giggled over whoopee cushions and boys, made a habit of walking all along Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California and around Rainbow Pier and back (which really shows our age as Rainbow Pier has been gone a LONG time), pledged a high school sorority in much fear and trepidation together, double-dated at the Circle Drive-in Movie, married, had children, lost first husbands to divorce or cancer, remarried, and are STILL HERE.
Getting so much older and getting so close to moving far, far away – I have been really thinking about friendship. I have some friends who just slipped through the cracks – they’re lost somewhere in time and space and I regret that. Margot Tillotson, Mary Park, Olivia de la Rocha, Sandra White – if you happen to chance upon this posting – I miss you. I have Melanie who shares unbelievable personal history. I have my employer/best friend Alice who has been my home-away-from-home base and we “have each other’s backs” and share our deepest joys and frustrations. I have my friend Susan who worked in Big Sur with me 30 years ago and continues to “be there” over the miles from Michigan and has been my personal guide and rooting team for the big move. There is Mara who has guided and pushed me into believing that I didn’t just have to have “lesser” angels. There are relatives who qualify first and foremost as best friends, like my cousin Debbie who has been my best e-mail pal and I suspect my future family support system, and above all, my cousin/sister Maryanne.
The thing about my friends is that I don’t see us forming a cohesive unit. We are not a “social group”. We are individuals who connect on various and disparate levels. We are CHUTNEY. And if that sounds like a mental aberration and a lunatic stretch, bear with me here. I need to segue into something I’m going to share and it has to do with Peggy and a recipe. And when I realized that Wikipedia describes chutney as “an idiosyncratic but complementary mix” I thought “AHA!” How perfect is that. FRIENDSHIP!
When last we visited with Peggy and her husband Dick, they were camping at Lake Lopez in the southern part of San Luis Obispo County. We brought lunch and among the fare was the following which relies on a good chutney and is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing and yet looks so impressive you will be blushing from the compliments. And that’s the point of the picture above which daughter Sheila took that nice day by the lake.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel of brie, 4-6 inches (I used Costco Double Cream)
5-6 T. mango chutney
5 T. toasted slivered almonds
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 T, water
Spread chutney on top of cheese, sprinkle with nuts, place pastry sheet over cheese and wrap edges underneath, first cutting off excess corners. Cut leaves or decorations from the pastry scraps. Afix to top of pastry with egg wash, and brush all over with wash. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.
It’s really easy, even though it looks complicated, and will bring great kudos and rewards. Just like friendship.