The same four women have gathered together to celebrate their birthdays for 30 years:  Alexandra, Brenda, Cassie and me.  We’ve never missed one.

Imagine the lives we’ve shared in our birthday dinner chatter, our tales of businesses started and prospering, wedding plans, divorce proceedings, death, travel to exotic places, new careers and retirement adventures.

We’ve celebrated with casual backyard barbecues, catered dinners at home served on heirloom lace, silver and porcelain.  A chef gave us lessons on preparing Indian cuisine in one of our kitchens.  We went to the Cirque de Soleil.  We skinny dipped in a neighbor’s pool.

For my birthday, for the first time in these 30 years we gathered around a table far from home.  The place was the Culinary Institute of America, outside of Calistoga, California.  Alexandra and Brenda ordered from the menu, but Cassie and I surrendered ourselves into the hands of the student chefs by ordering from the four course, prix fixe menu with wine pairings.  Every mouthful of food and every sip of wine aroused my nostrils and titillated every taste bud as it all rolled over my tongue and down my throat.

dinner at the Culinary Institute of America

This is me, about to dig into the fourth course at the Culinary Institute of America

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