Sunday, February 04, 2007

On the joy of being cooked for

These are halcyon days. The Significant Eater has settled in to our shared abode and become most at home in the kitchen. While I’ve long been back at work, he’s still on holidays. I have discovered a new joy - to walk in the door sometime before 7pm to the smell of food simmering on the stove or heating in the oven. Since moving out of shared houses more than a decade ago, I have had many years of living alone or with a partner who would only begrudgingly cook. Kitchen compatibility is a new and wondrous thing.

Though an omnivore, the SE prefers to eat a healthy vegetarian plus fish type of diet. We cook in different ways – he tends to spend more time planning and researching, then follows a recipe to the letter. Though some days he throws caution to the wind and ad libs. He favours strong flavours (chili, thyme, radicchio) and large portions. His maternal lineage, from Northern Italy, means no meal is complete without at least one large salad or side dish of vegetables.

The past week has seen a feast of curries, a simple vegetable bake that was so delicious tempted a visiting neighbour to stay and Cajun barbecued marlin. There was a salad of bitter greens with a thick mustard dressing. Having so often been the one who shows her love through providing sustenance for others, it is a delight to be on the receiving end of this kind of nurturing.

We are learning to cook together, which for me means letting go of the picture I have for a finished dish and going with the flow more often. Perhaps if I learn to be not always in control in the kitchen, it will ripple to the other parts of my life! The other night was a classic example. At the market we found some prawn and scallop ravioli. Neither of us eats pasta very often but this seemed a suitable deviation from the norm. After purchasing the precious produce we bantered as we shopped as to what would be the perfect sauce for it. I sketched out a simple Napoli, using fresh tomato, onions, garlic and perhaps an anchovy, a hint of chili and a splash of white wine. He picked up a fresh bunch of greens and said excitedly, “and spinach”. That night I prepared the first half of the sauce while he readied his addition. I’d visualised the leaves finely diced and perhaps even blended. His way was a rough chop, including the stalks. The texture, taste and look of the meal totally different to what I’d expected.

What does it matter, in the end it was delightful!



Anonymous kathryn said...

That's an interesting post Food Nazi - both my partner and I love to cook, but we are unable to cook together.

I love my partner's cooking - he produces great meals and cooks things I wouldn't attempt, but he cooks in a very different way from me. However, I still find it hard to watch him preparing food, without being a back-seat cook. Which I'm realising is pretty patronising, let alone being quite ungrateful and rude.

So, I need to learn your lesson and let go while he's cooking - trust him and "go with the flow".

Thanks for the post, food for thought.

12:17 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks Kathryn - I blog most what I need to learn :) I really am trying to stop being in control of everything and the kitchen is a great metaphor.

6:03 pm  

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