Chicago was a flying visit, just 36 hours to spend in an incredibly fun, friendly and clean city, the gateway to the West. The first night we spent with my cousin Lisa, her husband Francisco and their sons Sebastian and Amadeo. Upon arrival, we realized it was Amadeo’s first birthday, but we did not have a gift (sorry). We did enjoy some birthday cake, though. We also enjoyed Francisco’s mom’s homemade salsa – a properly hot one, a yummy tomato sauce that involved very special treatment of tomatoes and best of all, their ‘house drink’. Served in a large martini glass, the house drink is composed of gin, Pernod Ricard(?), lemon, lime and rosemary. And something else. It was refreshing, and not fussy-tasting at all. Must post the recipe. The next morning, four kids plus my very unpunctual self made leaving the house take something like six hours. By 3:45pm, 1.25 hours before closing, we had arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago. Daniel immersed himself in the collection of drawings, while I concentrated on the American art from 1850 onwards. ‘American Gothic’, the painting by Grant Wood depicting an Iowa farmer and his wife, was especially emotive because of my family ties to that state, and farming. After rushing back to the north side of Chicago, where we emerged breathless from a cab that had carried four kids and four adults at 71 miles an hour up an expressway in rush hour, we zoomed back downtown to spend two precious hours with Trista, one of the first two friends I made at the University of Michigan, and her husband Anish catching up on the events of the last three years. So into the night we sat, reminiscing about drag queens, criminals and other happy college memories.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.