I attended the funeral of a high school friend yesterday. He died too young of course. The funeral home was SRO — always a sign that the departed was loved dearly and by many. And he was.
Funerals are sad of course, but for me they are also illuminating. We listen to loved ones share what in any other circumstances might be considered too intimate details — of secrets, fears, regrets, death bed promises. It’s a little uncomfortable, like peeking through a peep hole at details we are not meant to know.
But really we are, because, as in the case of my friend, his was a life well lived and well loved. He was a husband, a father, a friend, and in our community, somewhat of a local celebrity. His smile was constant, his temperament calming, his intentions pure. He enjoyed a decades long partnership with his wife and soul mate for life, and he was the epicenter of many enviable friendships that withstood the test of time and distance.
And therein lie the lessons we are meant to learn. Though his physical body has left this world, I have no doubt that his spirit will continue to shine down and around the people he loved and who loved him. And we are reminded that although a lifetime with those we cherish is never enough, the minutes and moments that make up that all too brief dance are what matter most.
Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes
Family dinner every night, I learned yesterday, was a sacrosanct tradition at my friend’s home. Apparently, the times when the family broke with this ritual were few and far between. I suspect this will continue, even without him at the table. [Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof].
3 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 t. minced garlic
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and stems removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 (2-pound) salmon fillet, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onion and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring gently. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly evaporated and slightly thickened. Turn the heat off, and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
Heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat. Brush the salmon all over with olive oil, salt and pepper, lay the fish skin side up and then cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes without moving, until browned. Flip the salmon to skin side down and move the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. (The salmon will not be cooked all the way through.) Remove to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Gently reheat the tomatoes if desired, season to taste, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature along with the salmon.