My French better half Vincent and I have been together for ten years. When we started out as a couple, I had a moment of dread at the thought of making that first meal for him. After a divorce and the loss of a house, I was now living my ‘paupered princess’ life in a small apartment – the kitchen in this small abode being nowhere near what I was used to. What I did have to my advantage was my cooking ability. Three kids who inherited my appetite had definitely had an impact on the type of cook I was.
Anyway, with my oldest son at university, my other son visiting his dad for the weekend, and my daughter spending the weekend with one of her friends, I figured a romantic dinner would lead to…perhaps…well…some ‘amour’!!
I focused on my menu. Something simple but refined. Avocado stuffed with onion vinaigrette; chicken breasts with morels, herbes de Provence and a light cream sauce; haricots verts; and cherry clafoutis for dessert along with a nice cheese plate. The perfect meal for my Gallic date!
Everything went as planned – my time management with the meal was impeccable. Vincent arrived and we had an aperitif. And another. The chicken was sautéing. I took the haricots verts off the burner to stop the cooking process. The timer went off to let me know that the clafoutis was finished baking.
Then it happened.
Being just a tiny bit nervous and desperately wanting to impress, I lost my train of logical thought. The burner that the beans were cooking on was still hot. I placed the clafoutis, which was baked in a glass dish, on top of the not-yet-cooled burner. At the very moment that Vincent came over to see if I needed any help, the glass dish exploded. Did I mention it was a cherry clafoutis? Clafoutis on the ceiling. Clafoutis in my hair and on my clothes. Clafoutis all over Vincent and on the walls and floor! Sheepishly, I explained that all was not lost as the beans were out of harm’s way, the chicken was covered and the baguette was on the table.
In true American form, I smiled through it all. Then something else happened.
We sat down to the table. He had brought with him a very good bottle of red wine – the same color as the cherries in the clafoutis! He opened it and poured. I leaned over, trying to be coquettish and cute…and in doing so, spilled his red wine. All over the table and all over him!
By now my smile turned into a look of horror as I watched his face scowl with…well, actually it looked like hate! He got up from the table giving me a stare that I swear could have killed. He walked over to the kitchen sink and his body started shaking.
For that one moment, my heart sank. I really liked him, and a feeling of sadness came over me because I knew I never wanted him to leave. Tears came to my eyes, but when I glanced over at his shaking body, he turned around and I saw that he was laughing uncontrollably (which had me thinking – is this man really French?)
He walked over to me, looked me in the eyes and said – I swear I’ll never forget this – “I don know wha- ee eez abou ou, but zis eez zuh worse but funniest meal I ‘ev evarhhhh ‘ad een mah lif” (translation: “I don’t know what it is about you, but this is the worst but funniest meal I have ever had in my life”).
Ten years later and we’re still going strong. He makes sure that I don’t place hot glass where it shouldn’t be, and he makes sure his glass of wine is very far away from me! Oh…and we still laugh about that first dinner!