23 October 2006

Cats, Comfort, and Cream

In my last entry (Apples), I mentioned that Paquito was missing.

Paquito is gone.

The first time I laid eyes on Paquito, over 10 years ago, I exclaimed, "He was supposed to come back to me!" I had recently lost a deeply loved cat, a long-haired version of Paco’s cream-with-flame-point coloring and amazing blue eyes. But Paco was Mom’s cat, except when I’d visit her; then he was on my lap and in my arms.

Everybody loved Paquito. Gorgeous, affectionate, demanding, fearless…he was my big dumb blond lover-boy. Because eventually he did come to me. When mom died of lung cancer in March of 2000, I adopted Paquito. We lived together for six and a half years.

But now he’s gone. I last saw him in the morning on Tuesday, October 10 – two weeks ago. He was a neutered male and not given to wandering; he liked his food, so disappearing was not in character. I looked high and low – literally – scrambling through the riparian willows and brambles around the house, shining a spotlight into the corners beneath the buildings on the property, going door to door to speak with my neighbors. I called all the vets, the shelters. I posted a lost cat notice on Craig’s List. I even consulted with two animal communicators (psychics).

Paco’s gone, and there’s a huge hole where his insistent energy used to be. No one’s snagging at my pants leg as I type, meowing until I stop writing and fill his cat bowl. No one’s around to scoop up in my arms like a babe and bury my face into his fur. No one’s around to be patient with Ant’s antics: standing Paco into a pair of waders so that he can be Puss N Boots, or wrapping Paquito around the back of his neck, two paws grasped in each hand to hold him in place as a neck warmer. Yes, I still share my life with four wonderful cats, but none of them is Paquito.

Today’s recipe is creamy like Paquito’s coloring, and a comfort food to soothe my grief. It’s Cauliflower-Potato-Leek Soup, and it’s delicious.

In a soup pot, heat some olive oil, then sauté over medium heat
1 Leek, sliced.

When it’s soft and somewhat translucent, add
1 Cauliflower, about 5 inches in diameter, broken into florets
1 Potato (preferably White Rose), about 5 or 6 inches long and 2 inches thick, cubed.

Add enough water to just cover the veggies.
Add one heaping teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon (chicken).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the veggies are tender.
Remove from heat.
Run the veggies through a blender to puree them, then add them back to the stock.
Add cream to taste – between 1/4 and 1/2 cup (or more, if you want).
Season with 1 scant teaspoon of nutmeg.
Serve. (If you’re really decadent, you can melt a pad of butter on top of each serving.)

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