bon vivant noun one who lives well [bon vee-vahnt; Fr. bawn vee-vahn]
Hurricane Sandy will make her presence known here on the Mid-Atlantic coast in mere hours. Be mindful that there are a few things not on the Weather Channel’s hurricane readiness list that for the bon vivant are imperative. Naturally, you are a responsible citizen and so you will clear the gutters and the storm drains, bring in the porch furniture, fill the car with gas, charge the telephones, stock up on toilet paper, batteries, water, ice, and non-perishable food, etc., as they wisely suggest. Still, for those devoted to living well, hurricane readiness means taking care of some other business, too. For we who relish earthly pleasures, storm-mode is not simply about being prepared for an emergency, but it is also about thinking ahead. How will we spend all those electricity-free hours?
1. If you are an imbiber (i.e. a lush), do ensure you have your medicine of choice. Whether you fancy martinis, caucasians, white lightning, or simply wine or beer, get thee to the liquor store prior to the start of inclement weather. (Don’t forget the ice.)
Feeling adventurous? Dig out that heirloom cocktail shaker with matching playing-card glasses, consult The Savoy Cocktail Book or some such classic barkeep’s guide and venture into new quaffing territory. (Experienced mixologists may consider creating a libation in Hurricane Sandy’s honor.)
If you are prone to fretting about your liver, banish your doctor’s voice from your head, and use milk thistle as a chaser. The world may end tomorrow, so have a drink for heaven’s sake. (Best not to get completely blotto, however, should you have to evacuate or climb on the roof.)
2. A reminder to whole bean java junkies that no power means your plugged-in grinder will not pulverize your fair trade berries (hand-picked by happy humans with fuzzy burros in tow). Either swallow your coffee pride and buy the all-ready-ground stuff, or start whizzing your bean stock ASAP.
3. Though your vehicle is now weighted with canned goods and gin, take the time to stop at the library (unless you are dodging a hefty fine). Sure, you can power up your Kindle, but when it fizzles out, you may be on the next-to-last chapter of the best thriller you’ve read in years with no way to find out how the story ends. Better to have a good, old-fashioned printed book on hand to see you through the dark hours ahead. (It’s good to have one of those head lamps for night reading, too.)
4. If you are blessed with a gas stove and oven, take advantage of this lull-in-life-storm-time for getting into the kitchen and doing the things you always say you want to do, but for which you feel you never have time. Bake a cake, a loaf of bread or some cookies with the kids. Dare to crack open that Indian cookbook you got three Christmases ago. Grab the mortar and pestle that’s gathering dust on the shelf above the stove and start crushing seeds and pods, mixing your own curry spice. Then, cook this fragrant melange with the oldest meat in your freezer (though not older than a year).
Alternately, roll up your sleeves and conquer some other daunting no-less-than-twenty-ingredients Asian recipe. No doubt you’ll use up some items that have been hanging around your pantry or freezer for awhile and gain some cooking chutzpah in the process. What’s lovelier than tucking into a vibrant, spicy curry or an aromatic and steaming bowl of Pho while the rain and wind lash outside?
5. Certainly, flashlights are handy when the power lines get choked with branches, but for dining in the dark, you must light the candles. Go ahead and get out the fancy candlesticks and the stemware, polish the silver, and lay the table with linens and china, even if you’re only serving tinned soup. Brave the few wet and windy steps to the flower bed and pluck a mum blossom or two for granny’s vase or for junior’s kindergarten pottery. Without the internet, cable television or Netflix to intervene, you’ll have plenty of time to linger over a pretty and sparkling table.
6. Be safe!