He had me at "trout". I still remember the dinner even though it was five years ago. I remember the dinner even better than I remember him because we were never a great fit and I knew I would never marry him but I was in love with his love of cooking. I was in love with our compatibility in the kitchen. I was in love with how confidently he navigated the spice aisle at Fairway and his ability to deglaze a pan.
That night he made us a smoked trout dip which we spooned onto pieces of baguette that we casually pulled off as we leaned into the side of the kitchen counter and sipped wine. The salmon was marinating and the thin asparagus was about to be sautéed with shallots and garlic. He wore a white apron and tucked a small towel into the apron strings the way chefs do. I was not only in love with him because he loved cooking for me and letting me, for once, play the supporting role, but I was seduced by how he held a knife, letting it bounce across the cutting board. He would chop without looking, glancing up at me as his blade desecrated the garlic.
We broke up two months after that dinner – our final supper was roast chicken. We came together over our love of cooking and that's what kept us together for six months, but, as Wonky Pie says, "you need more than a shared passion for pink Himalayan salt to make a relationship work."
But I get why I fell for this man who ground his own spices. One of my happiest memories of childhood is standing at the kitchen counter making coconut cake with my mother and going to the farmers market on Saturday mornings with my father. There was so much love that I felt around food, so much excitement, so much anticipation of what we might make with a cup of flour. I still love the sound of a dishwasher at the end of a day – the contented purr that signals the end of a home-cooked meal, empty plates, and full stomachs.
I cook all of Jackson's (my 2-year old) food and much of it we cook together. When he wakes, his second word every morning (after Mama) is oatmeal. We trundle off to the kitchen, he drags the pot from the cupboard, hands it to me, climbs up on the step stool, stands at the counter, and pours the little tin cup of oatmeal, that I hand him, into the pot. I add the water and salt and we put it on the stove. The buzzer goes off after 6 minutes. He adds the cinnamon, ground flax, honey and pear. We blow on it as it cools. And then we eat. Together. And I am in love.