Alison cooks at a semi-pro level. She’s phenomenal. A lot of people would seek someone like that because they figure someone in the relationship should be able to feed the couple; in my case, I’m jazzed at her facility with food because it’s renewed my own love affair with the kitchen.
I grew up with two parents who could each drive the stove, but they had their own bailiwicks. My Dad put himself through college working in an Elias Brothers’ Big Boy – if you want a grilled cheese sandwich (his specialty), hash and eggs, a burger or a grilled egg sandwich, he’s your man. He’s also a former Marine, so he’s great at putting together fast and satisfying meals in the field, which came in really handy throughout the time I was in the Boy Scouts. My mom is a more traditionally-trained and talented cook. She taught me to create Chicken Kiev, Baked Alaska and Beef Wellington; how to sautee; how to sharpen knives; how to quickly and efficiently clean and dice vegetables.
I’ve built on the things that both of them taught me over the years with countless hours of watching Emeril, Gordon Ramsey and even Julia Child. The Food Channel is like porn to me. It can take me a while to put together a tasty and attractive dish, and for the last five years I’ve been living along – it usually doesn’t seem worth the effort to put together something real. It’s easier to subsist on rice and pasta, eggs and the occasional grilled meat.
Over the last months, though, Alison and I have cooked for each other. We almost compete to cook for one another, a situation which we’ve solved with a basic deal that the person hosting prepares dinner. She inspires me with dishes and enthusiasm. My kitchen has turned out spicy Indian butter chicken, grilled cuban sandwiches, rice and beans with pork, several crock pot meals, marinated steaks with fun sides, paella (probably the best meal I’ve ever created), and several varieties of stuffed chicken breast or pork chop. It’s quietly thrilling to be creating dishes again.
Eating leftovers from my Indian chicken yesterday, I realized that I’ve been remiss in not taking pictures and posting recipes. Check this space in the near future for write-ups on the culinary and oenological discoveries we make together. My renewed focus on food, while perhaps a pending imposition on my waistline, is making everything in life taste better.