Friday, July 3, 2009

Remembering Meals


At some point, a marriage becomes a matter of routine; taken for granted. It's something that, being human, we are all guilty of at some point or another, despite the folly of the practice. We tell ourselves that it's just a comfortable sort of being together, worn like a favorite shirt that's fading at the elbows but still intact; more often, though, it's stagnation. It's our duty, I believe, to fight against complacency. Some people do this with reminders of those early days, however long ago, when everything seemed new. Others seek to replicate the newness by seeking future adventures, possibly crazy ones (depending on how prone to midlife crisis one is). Past, future . . . the best way is of course to pay attention to the now. And when you do that—really pay attention—you can amaze yourself with the power of your memory. My husband and I seem to be people who look back on the first blush when we want to rekindle. And our collective memory, I must say, is all about food and wine. We don't really play this game anymore (too many nights around our own table, with too many rushed meals of lesser consequence?), but we used to test each other's memories as we made our way through romantic, gastronomic meals. We'd really pay such careful attention to each detail of the food presented to us; we'd dissect everything together, talk about it and quiz each other later, routinely—years later, I mean. Of the more complex meals (let's say five or more courses), there are probably two I remember in full—at least, remember what each course was, if now many finer points are admittedly lost—and they were both experienced at restaurants in France, much as I hate to perpetuate the national arrogance in matters culinary. One of these meals we ate before we were married (but we were there scouting possible locations for our reception), and the other was during the first days of our honeymoon. That's the one I'll reel off here, as it's an anniversary to the day: July 3, exactly seven years ago. Dinner at Restaurant Lou Cigalon, in Valbonne. Here goes:

– Champagne (because every meal started that way, once upon a time)
– "Gazpacho" of crayfish and tomato confit
– Salmon "declension" (a description which the linguist in me appreciated): variations on theme of a single ingredient; it gets fuzzy here, but there was a salmon mousse, salmon tartare, garnishes of cucumber, thinly sliced dried mango, lemon confit, with sauces of sesame, soy, honey
– A trilogy of shrimp with roasted squash, squash blossoms; something combining crab-mango-lime; a portion of mussel-saffron-kiwi (yes, kiwi!) soup
– Roasted squab with peach and fig, a phyllo-type envelope around pigeon with dates
– Soft chocolate cake with lemon confit
Deconstructed Napoleon with raspberries and "fraises du bois" (wild strawberries)

Because my husband remembers wine, I let myself forget. If I ask him, I'm sure he will remember, or else will find it written down someplace. We fall into our ruts like any couple, but we are probably more sentimental than most. I'll post the wine here in a comment if we come up with it. And if not . . . maybe we're more complacent than I thought.

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