Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Food, A Love Story

The First Meal We Cooked Together

It was December 30th, and I sat on a small step stool in the kitchen in your apartment in Polish Hill. Outside, it was very cold. Inside, your apartment was drafty. I kept my sweater on and you moved about the kitchen, grabbing pots and pans, taking ingredients out of the refrigerator. You were throwing a dinner party the next day, to which I was not invited.

You popped the cork in a bottle of red wine, poured me a glass, poured one for yourself.

From the refrigerator, you removed a small package, wrapped in white butcher paper, which crackled as you opened it up, held it for me to see. “It’s pate,” you said, and I nodded as though I knew what this was.

It was a brownish-gray ingot, and completely unappetizing. I sipped my wine.

You toasted a piece of bread, cut it into triangular slices, and placed a piece of the pate on it, like a pat of butter. I regarded it for a long moment, then I popped it into my mouth. The texture was like velvet and sandpaper, the taste like nothing I'd ever experienced before, like mushrooms and mud and wild sex, and for the first time, I understood the true meaning of the word “nuance.” I wanted more immediately, but was not sure that my tongue could stand it again so soon.

Outside on the black velvet hillsides, the streetlamps dotted the winding roads like pieces of topaz, and the water on the streets turned to ice, and I finished my glass of wine and you poured me another, and I knew that I should leave. Instead, I had another piece of pate on toast, and regarded you as you moved about the kitchen, mixed ground meat in a large metal bowl with your hands, and broke an egg into it. In the background, the tv was on, and I tried to look natural there on the stepstool in your kitchen, careful not to let my eyes strain toward your unmade bed, where the covers were exactly where you had kicked them off earlier in the day.

Then you used a mallet and pounded the beef into a thin strip, and I spread the ground meat mixture over it, and you rolled it carefully, and I was aware of my fingers, sticky and cold with raw egg and flecks of beef, and your lips, stained red with wine.

Next, we constructed the dessert, a crème caramel. I emptied the containers of cream into the saucepan, and turned the heat on low. “Keep stirring,” you said, stirring the sugar and water together in another pan. Later, you showed me how to temper cream into the egg, and once the creme caramels were setting in the refrigerator and the counters were wiped clean, I slept in your bed again, and took careful note the next morning of the pattern the sheets left as I kicked them aside the and made my way toward home.


The First Meal We Ate Together

It was February, just before Valentine’s Day. You were standing at the your kitchen counter. I was sitting on my step stool. Outside, it was snowing a little.

“Do you like grilled Rachels?” you asked, reaching into the refrigerator and pulling out ingredients.

“Is that like a Reuben sandwich?” I asked, and you nodded, artfully laying slices of thick-cut pastrami across pieces of bread.

“You’ll like this,” you said.

“Maybe,” I said. “But I don’t really like lunch meat unless it’s sliced very thin.”

“Well,” you said, brushing your hands against your thighs, sending breadcrumbs flying. “If that’s how you really feel, then this relationship is never going to work out.”

And then you grinned at me and leaned down down down to where I was perched on the stool, and you kissed me.