June: an odd name for a Jewish girl, she’d always thought, particu- larly one who’d been raised, as she had been, squarely in the Jewish suburbs—in her case, in Bethesda, Maryland, where her father was a dentist, and her mother sat on boards, and cooked. By the time June was in high school, her mother had taken courses in French, Italian, Indian, and Chinese cooking, and for June and her sisters: it was always something of a game to guess what dinner was going to be: won ton or fettuccini? Coq au vin or vangi bhat? June’s father had preferred straight- forward American cooking, barbecued chicken and pot roast and steak, but June’s mother—a frustrated musician—rarely served anything for dinner that required fewer than three hours of prepara- tion, and then went on to learn about wine, such that by the time June was a young woman, bringing rst one lover and then the next home to meet her family, her mother never failed to dazzle and impress, and June’s young men never failed to leave the big brick house in Bethesda half in love with June’s mother, with her air of safe worldliness.
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