Under an dramatic charcoal and blue sky in Taos, New Mexico just over a month ago, ECG and I married each other.
Perhaps everyone looks at their wedding days like this, but to me, it was the most important, happiest day I'd ever imagined. It wasn't a fairy tale, it wasn't as if my prince had come and rescued me (ECG is no prince, and certainly I'm no princess), and it wasn't the fluffy white affairs we see in movies. I had no hours at the beauty parlor beforehand. No dress and tux fittings beforehand. No cumberbunds. No string quartet.
Nothing went the way we've seen it elsewhere. It was better. I had dirt under my fingernails on the day I married because I had helped plant the courtyard with colorful annuals earlier that day. (Despite the protection of the courtyard, we didn't dare risk planting the flowers earlier because it still dipped below freezing at night in Taos in April.) Later, as I "prettified" myself, my friends joined me. In a happy frenzy of femininity, my friends helped me with my makeup and curled my hair into ringlets that rebelled joyously all night. The team of women forms one of my favorite little memory snapshots of the wedding weekend: SWW standing up against me as I sat on the toilet seat, the curling iron creaking and snapping in her hand, and KB's face right in front of mine, as she adjusted my curls and checked my makeup. The closeness of these woman in the tight bathroom, sweet with their perfume and the hairspray they applied to my hair, felt so warm and real. I wanted the close physical presence of my friends just before I entered marriage. The physical presence of family and friends followed me throughout the day: within minutes of being married, my dress was already pressed flat against my body from the many hugs I'd received.
My family, especially, worked hard to make the day meaningful. My mom, the master of everything floral (and many, many other things), put together every bouquet herself, every wristlet and boutonniere. She was up until 5:30 the morning before the wedding working on the flowers, and there were flowers enough for just about everyone. She made sure all sorts of people got boutonnieres, for when it came down to it, there weren't just a few men and women "of honor." In the eyes of ECG and me, everyone there was the "wedding party." All of the 70 or so people at the wedding stood up with ECG and me and promised that they would support us through our life together.
And so, since everyone was part of the wedding party, since everyone was there support us as we joined our life together, clearly, there were quite a few toasts to us at our wedding.
This was an aspect of our wedding that I didn't know to expect. I had heard toasts at other weddings, and these were often kind, generous words that were heartfelt and meaningful, but they weren't addressed to me, and so I couldn't feel the impact of them. But at our wedding, these words made our hearts do backstrokes and dolphin-jumps in oceans of love. Both of our fathers told us that they loved us and gave us guidance towards the gift of marriage. My mother spoke about the importance of everyone there. Our uncles reminisced, our friends told us that they loved us, that they'd be there for us, and that they'd always be part of our lives. ECG's sister made us smile, and my brother, well, my brother reminded us of family love so intensely and so passionately that love slipped out our eyes and rolled down our cheeks. Love trained my mascara into my laughlines and brought the hands of ECG and me together into a fierce grip.
A wedding is more than just two people saying "I love you" to each other. Our wedding was a joining of two people into a family, and the joining of their families and friends into one huge new organism, as SWW put it in her toast to us, a framily.
Whole Preserved Kumquats
Now that I am married to ECG, I can say this is a family recipe. Passed to her by her mother, this recipe has been passed to me by my mother-in-law. She grew up eating these in Argentina, and her family would enjoy them with Gruyere or over vanilla ice cream. Last night, I served them drizzled over dark chocolate ice cream. They'd be great on cakes and adding their zingy-sweet-citrus pizzazz to other desserts. All those applications are delicious, but lately I've been enjoying them on their own, pulling the big jar out of the refrigerator and dipping a spoon in, lifting out a perfect, glistening kumquat drizzling its syrup, and eating that glorious kumquat standing up in the kitchen. Sometimes (don't tell the hygiene police), I sneak the same spoon in for another.
You will need:
Kumquats (just picked from your friend's tree and very well washed of dust)
That's it, only three ingredients. The quantities of each are dependent upon the quantities of the other ingredients. This will become clear in the directions below.
To make the preserved kumquats:
Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to boil. While you're waiting for the pot to boil, pierce the kumquats with the point of a sharp knife in several places so the kumquats don't explode when cooked. Once the water is boiling, carefully pour in the kumquats, let the water return to a boil and boil the kumquats for five minutes. Retrieve the pot from the burner and drain the kumquats.
For the next step, you will need the same weight of both water and sugar as your weight in kumquats, so after the kumquats are drained of extra liquid, weigh them. If you end up with a pound of kumquats, that means you'll need both a pound of sugar and a pound of water. Whatever your measurements are, bring the water and sugar to boil in a large pot. When the mixture is boiling, add the kumquats and boil for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand until the next day. (If you're worried about sanitation, which shouldn't be too much of a problem with all this sugar and acid, you can refrigerate them until the next day.)
Repeat the process: scoop the kumquats from the syrup, bring the syrup to a boil, add the kumquats, and boil them for a half hour. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand until the next day. Repeat one more time for the third day.
After boiling the third day, the syrup should be thick and clear orange, the kumquats should be transparent, and the whole mess should be a treat from citrus heaven. As my mother-in-law writes, "It is a lengthy process, but the end result is really worth it!"