Yesterday, I had Zah over for dinner... I made a Sunday sauce with some meatballs, sausage, pork ribs, and beef braciole...
I love Zah but not nearly as much as my family loves Zah, so my door is always open and my table always has a setting for my undersized Zimbabwean brother.
But every time he is over, I inevitably forget something... Zah is infinitely more interesting than I am.
Case in point: Yesterday, instead of putting together a monster charcuterie board before dinner, I simply put out a sliced sausage bread I baked along with a wedge of Bel Paese cheese and a fresh honeycomb I bought at a specialty store.
I am a fan of honey (particularly the hot honey infused with Calabrian chiles), but I never ate it off the comb.
I was excited about it. I felt like a little fancy-pants for putting it together. And I was eager to talk to my guests about the experience while we were eating it... Perhaps eating straight from a honeycomb is old hat for you, but for me, it's a new experience. And I get aroused by food.
Anyhoo, it's delicious.
The hot bread stuffed with sausage and prosciutto, along with a smear of that neutral cheese, and then a drizzle of fresh acacia honey stolen from some black locust tree in Turkey was everything I hoped it would be.
To be safe, I asked all my guests if they were allergic to bees because I read honey from the comb can affect people with a bee allergy where more refined honeys from plastic squeeze bottles shaped like bears do not.
I then went around the table and found out no one had ever tried fresh honey like this, and everyone was having a pretty good experience swigging wine and wrenching out the honeycomb.
And then I got to my African brother.
Just like I asked everyone else, I posed this to Zah- "Have you ever eaten honey like this?"
And right away, he casually said (in his smug accent), "Oh yes, my friend. As a child, my classmates and I would often burn a tire below a beehive, and the smoke would disorient the bees just long enough for us to steal chunks of honeycomb that we would eat on our way home."
What a fucking great story… So much better than me saying, "I saw this for sale at Uncle Guisseppe's so I decided to try it out."
The whole discussion then shifted to Zah, and what it was like growing up on the Dark Continent, and blah, blah, blah… While I just sat there… Alone… With a wasted $35 comb-patterned conversation starter that paled in comparison to a strategically placed burning tire under a beehive in Zimbabwe.
Before the main course, everyone went out to the side deck where we smoked cigars and drank some more everything.
And on the way out, I pulled my wife aside and asked, "Did you see that?"
"See what?" she replied.
"Fucking Zah," I said, "I was all excited about the honey and he totally stole my thunder!"
To which Annie responded, "Are you fucking kidding me?… Nobody cares about your stupid honey, and it's not Zah's fault he is more interesting than you… Grow up, asshole."
Harsh, but fair.
So I continued to eat, drink, and smoke.
(It looks like my dog is shitting a cigar here.)
Later on that same evening, right around dessert, my wife started to tell everyone her own story about what happened to her just days before.
I wrote about it in a blog, but for those too lazy to read, my wife and dog were recently attacked by a German Shepherd and sustained some injuries. The Shepherd was put to sleep later that same day.
As my wife was telling the story, she began asking everyone around the table if they ever suffered through a similar attack, and nobody had.
And then she got to Mr. "I-Burn-Tires-For-Honey".
"Zah… Have you ever been attacked by a dog?" my wife asked.
And luckily for her, he immediately answered (again, in that smug accent), "Oh no, Annie. Luckily I have never encountered such a thing."
So my wife and her little dog-attack story were in the clear.
Until Zah went on, "But on multiple occasions, I have been chased from the banks of the river near my grandmother's village by killer hippos."
All eyes and ears shifted from the boring dog attack to the fascinating run-in with an animal whose name comes from the Ancient Greek meaning "river horse" and who can reach weights of up to nearly 4,000 pounds.
And as my wife slumped back in her chair after being inadvertently run over by the Zimbabwean Express, she looked over to me and without saying a word, we telekinetically agreed that maybe Zah won't be invited back to dinner for a while.
Take a report.