It is the early morning hour of a day you have dinner guests.
The red kidney beans have soaked all night.
After work yesterday you went to the grocery store and picked out your sweet onions, the green peppers, the stalks of celery. You hunted and found the smoked ham hocks required by the familiar Paul Prudhomme recipe. You decided against more white pepper and cayenne pepper -- you know your mother's Monday pot of red beans never needed them.
Twelve hours to let all those ingredients bubble and thicken on the right front burner of your stove before you are ready to fix each of your guests a Sazerac cocktail. And then your New Orleans act can end.
You know these two guests well. You know you can get them to tell you more about Spain and the vacation there that they arranged for their families this past summer. You know they will be ready with questions about your own venture last weekend into the rainy Berkshires. They will understand a Melville pilgrimage.
You will not talk, though, about the grey skies above the field behind Arrowhead, the Pittsfield farm where Melville completed Moby Dick within sight of the mountains. You will keep that memory for yourself, the quiet, the cool air, the sense of yourself that comes in those moments.
Your guests are bringing a creamy Spanish dessert. The moment in which it comes out at meal's end will find each person at table smiling with his distinctive memories.