for my son

It’s my fault, really, how fine dining
feels like a necessity, not a splurge.
It began, I think, with your 10th birthday—
the year your classmates hosted Chuckie
Cheese parties, you choose La Caravella,
the fancy eatery, hidden down a cypress-
lined road. Bright white stone, discrete black
door, lit with flickering gas lanterns—two red-
jacketed valets wait to open our car doors.
One sweeps us into the glimmering interior
where a white-gloved maître d’ waves
us to a corner table, like a maestro
conducting an opera—the score,
your first tasting menu. To start, mocktails,
Caesar salad tableside. Our waiter
dredges anchovies across the deep bowl,
tosses romaine with egg, ends with grated
Pecorino Romano, cascading from on high.
Next, linguini in clam sauce, each dish
set before us in unison by silent servers.
They return, singing, carrying your candle-
lit dolce: flourless chocolate cake, raspberry-
kissed compote. This indulgence—
elegant dining—thereafter, our monthly norm.
Years on, after the pandemic shutters our
favorite L.A. and New York restaurants,
you stand in my kitchen, sauteing garlic,
onions, rolling dough for linguini,
flourishing white flour—you’re inventing
dinner as you go. I select Sonoma pinot noir,
Portuguese port for dessert, vintage—your birth year.
You lift the wooden spoon from the sauce—
extend it in my direction. Taste