You’ll remember that I’ve written about my summer working at the Confederation Centre Courtyard Café? (It was where I used to indulge my love of butter tarts, made not by brittle pastry chefs, but by a round, grandmotherly baker.)
I had a terrific summer there, eating not only butter tarts, but, when I tended bar for the dinner theatre in the evening, discovering, in the huge walk-in fridge, vast bowls of butter frosting.
Don’t worry; I never double-dipped my spoon (I didn’t win my boarding school’s dining room etiquette award for nothing!).
But I digress already.
Part of what made that summer magical was meeting a great group of students with whom I waited tables during the busy lunch hours. One was a triple threat who had also won a Miss Teen PEI pageant; another, a budding law student who left us to take on social work a couple of weeks into the summer; another, an Anne of Green Gables look-alike with wild-turkey eyes, and my new buddy J, who was one part pirate and two parts teddy bear.
J was a great pal because he loved music, food, and was well connected in the social department—manna for someone returning from boarding school who felt out of the loop.
That summer J and a group of us had an enviable summer—late-late-night meals with producers of and actors from the Charlottetown festival; live intimate concerts by fantastic Charlottetown musicians; delightful witty conversations to our teenage minds (we rechristened the part of the café veering out into the hallway the “existension” to suit our Camus-esque leanings).
I never spent a full year on PEI anymore, but every time I’d come home I’d run into J—in the Confed Centre, in a café—and we’d take up right where we’d left off. Even Mr. C and I caught up with him at the late, great Pat’s Rose and Gray, home to exquisite carrot cake with thick cream cheese frosting (I *do* like frosting) and housed in a vintage apothecary.
Last summer was the first time I’d been home in some 15 years, and as my situation was different (three children! academic conference!), I didn’t hit my usual haunts and wondered whether that was why I didn’t run into J. And why didn’t I call him? Ummm, I had forgotten his last name. Major oops.
Yesterday, as Mr. C and I were nosing around the downtown, I picked up a local arts newspaper. We were driving back to the beach and I mused that I had forgotten J’s last name and was brainstorming a bit. But it wasn’t there.
As I turned the pages of my paper, though, I let out a shriek of delight. For smiling up from the pages was an image of J, who’d just returned to PEI to become the Executive Chef of a well-praised waterfront seafood joint (slow-cooking, 90-percent local ingredients).
In the years between meetings, he’d taken to the chef life, even hosting his own cooking show on TV for two years!
I won’t out him here, because Mr. C and I haven’t yet descended upon him for a meal, but I’m excited to reconnect. And maybe invite him over to ignite our barbeque, you know.
Happy Canada Day, literal and symbolic Canadians!