A group of friends of mine, all of whom live within a three mile radius of my house,* often meet on Sunday evenings during the summer to cook and eat together. There is little peculiar about such gatherings, I imagine, but living in Los Angeles means a lot of outdoor dining. What is commonly known as the ‘Fortress of Ballertude’** serves as host with great frequency for our Sunday Summer Suppers. The most recent dinner there happened to occur, thanks to the late summer holiday and an epic barbecue,*** on a Monday evening.
What, prey tell, does this have to do with the city, you ask? Well, the back yard of this particular domicile is intoxicatingly Angeleno. Its residents laid red brick on the dirt floor of the small fenced-in back yard a few years ago. A partial canopy of bougainvillea which leans in from three sides of the yard gives way, if you look straight up, to a view of four waving palm trees. When the grill is going, they pipe music in from speakers wired through the walls. Those sounds combine with the noise from passing walkers and traffic.
It is as close as I have come to the plutonic ideal of what nights in the summer should feel like in Los Angeles. It doesn’t hurt that most of those in attendance are amazing cooks, so whatever they bring or create at the fortress satisfies the late, hot afternoon appetite.
But mostly what makes the Sunday Supper an institution is the city itself. If you make a home here, if you let yourself love the occasionally too-hot summer nights and the people with whom you choose to spend them, everything else will blossom to compliment you and it and them.
I leave the Sunday Suppers and often find myself stupidly grinning on the walk home in the kind warm breeze.
Palm trees are not native to Los Angeles. And the recent heat wave was likely man-made. Almost all of the folks who sit around the table are transplants from other distant cities. But after such good pot luck, I don’t care. I just love the city and its inhabitants. I love the summer. And wish I could stay forever.****
*This is extremely rare in Los Angeles. Particularly given that this group of folks are mostly friends I won in college. The sprawl and the job market has it that most Angelenos have a cohort more widely dispersed.
**Not my choice. I swear.
***See previous post.
****So, if you follow this blog or are thorough about your footnotes, you already know I’m leaving Los Angeles. For this, and the quickly waning days of summer weather, I feel I should be forgiven for all my swooning about the city until I depart.