We were spending the day at the Saratoga Springs Library and what a fine library it is! Friendly and helpful staff as well as a Green Mountain Cafe, located conveniently in the building, to fuel caffeine induced literary epiphanies.
Taking advantage of the Wifi, we took care of blog content and in the midst of postings we received a call from Heidi Ricks, a member of CouchSurfing.com. “CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.”
Heidi had responded to our request for a place to park and camp in the Saratoga area and we were psyched since this was our first Couchsurfing experience and we were running out of squatting
locations. We were to arrive at her home in Ballston Lake, about 15 minutes away, at 10pm, so planned on leaving the library around 8pm and having dinner in town. The hours passed pleasantly for us in the building of books, a haven for Pilgrims like us.
8pm came and the dinner hunt began somewhat shakily. I was losing my sense of humor for the hunger monster was banging it’s fork and knife like mad. Marlo and I can’t afford to spend much on prepared food, and when we do, it pains us greatly to waste our moneys on such that is done in bad fashion. As a result, we are very careful choosing a dining establishment. We circled the city twice and it was looking pretty grim. My appetite was causing a commotion, and nearly a dining disaster at Smokey Joe’s, but thanks to Marlo’s keen eye and composure we escaped the horror of frozen wings and fries frizzled in rancid oil. Luckily, we rolled the dice on an Indian place; not usually a winner in unfamiliar territory, but we took an educated chance and enjoyed a quite tasty and delicious meal at Karavalli on Caroline Street: Aloo Gobi (one of my fave Indian dishes), mango chicken curry, fragrant rice, and fresh, hot naan. It was truly a miracle and cost us $26, just a few dollars more than the atrocity we would have suffered at the barbecue joint. Score for the Pilgrims!
I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about the prospect of cooking for two reasons: an unfamiliar and small kitchen and the addition of 4 more people making the total number of diners equal to 10. I foresaw issues with space, equipment, and timing- all potential saboteurs of a dinner party. Unfortunately, I wasn’t just worrying because it all came true. Not only were myself and Marlo using counter space, but also brother and sister making coconut ice cream, Heidi preparing pesto, sister and friend constructing pesto toasts, and friends Aidan and wife tossing salads and chopping onions by the stove. If you cook you know that even two in the kitchen can be a crowd. 10 is chaotic, but an atmosphere of comraderie was also produced and it felt good! Everyone was pitching in but the pressure was still on us and came to a head when a grease fire in the grill nearly destroyed the beautiful chicken legs and thighs. The fried potatoes were morphing into potato smash due to lack of a proper pan and the Pilgrims were being consumed alive by vicious mosquitoes. Feeling pretty low at this point I regretted informing Couchsurfers of our cooking skills, but you know what? Everything turned out pretty good in the end. The smash potatoes flavored with wild mustard seed
(courtesy of son Lockie) were a success, the unintended squash and zucchini baba- ganoush-like dish was a hit, and the chicken was not only salvaged, but delicious. We all sat around the table and shared this meal which was prepared by each hand in the room. Easy going conversations and laughs were shared and I was struck by the fact that just a day ago we were strangers and I was truly happy to have changed that status.