Culinary Nightmares

Some people have nightmares of falling. They awaken startled and in a cold sweat. But dreams of falling are not my nightmares. My worst nightmare showed up at my door yesterday. And it came in a pack.

The Happy Camper Pop-Up Albergue/camp ground was busy yesterday. Upon my return from my walk to Melide, Jeff and I decided to clean up the arcade of trees further back on the property. It would be a sweaty business.

We finished up, marching back to the barn when I spotted a black and white dog scratching his back on the grass by our kitchen.

‘Do we have a dog now?’ I asked Jeff.

It’s not a flippant question. I was gone for awhile this morning. A cat adopted Jeff in the first 15 minutes after we arrived here at the end of April. A dog adopting us in the previous three hours wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

‘No’ I heard. ‘It’s my dog.’ A mountain of a Frenchman stood up. He was waiting for us to check into the tents. Not a problem. I got him a beer and the three of us and his dog chatted in the shade for an hour or so. Then I went inside to clean up and start dinner. Lasagna.

My worst nightmare began when the Italian cyclists arrived. Sure, they were very nice. But, as an American, serving lasagna to Italians is like serving borsht to a Russian. It isn’t going to be like Mama used to make. And I’m no chef.

To add insult to injury, the door kept knocking. More weary Peregrinos needing beds and food. And who were these people? Freaking Italians. Why didn’t I make Chili today? Or Jeff’s favorite, Mexican food? But noooo. It had to be lasagna.

They’re all nice guys. They were complimentary. The sauce was homemade from the veggies our Spanish cycling family presented to me. Eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers. And aged goat cheese. But holy moly – I was sweating and not from the heat. Luckily, the soup was cold gazpacho.

‘What time is dinner?’ The Tuscan asked me in Spangitalingles. My preferred hybrid language of the central Mediterranean.

‘How about 6?’ I offered. Peregrinos go to bed early.

He winced. ‘Too early. How about 7?

‘Sure. 7 it is.’

Jeff just laughed when I told him dinner was pushed to 7 o’clock. ‘Of course. I mean, when you’re paying top dollar.’

Staying and eating here is free. All of them tried to pay me but I told them to put it in the box when they go to the Cathedral in Santiago. And maybe to say a prayer for us. Assumption Day is on Sunday and everyone seems to be looking to make it to Santiago by then.

The food must not have been too bad. Last night was the height of the Perseid meteor shower. Jeff and I have been looking forward to sitting out under the stars at midnight to watch the show streaking across the sky. It’s dark here The Milky Way is visible and the carpet of stars feels so close you could reach up and touch them. I asked one of the cyclists if they would be disturbed if we sat out on the grass not far from the tents to get the best view. He just smiled.

‘I tell you what. Why don’t you pretend this is your house and do whatever you enjoy.’

He was laughing when he said it. So I guess he didn’t hold the lasagna against me. But we all had fun chatting over cold drinks. And Jeff got to play fetch for hours with the Frenchman’s dog. Which tells me I may come home to a new family member in late October or November. Today, I am making chicken black bean chili. A much safer culinary choice, unless I get Peregrinos from the American Southwest. But no matter who shows up today, after last night it won’t give me nightmares.

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