“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Change. It can be a cause for celebration. A turning point. A jumping off point. Some other kind of point. At times it can be both necessary and painful. But having lived in 5 different countries, we’re no strangers to change. And this one (relocating to France) was as wise as it was painful. But with it comes reason to celebrate!
We have each other, and we have family. Family who as it happens, just celebrated 49 years of marriage. And guess who planned and cooked their special anniversary dinner! This gal. As evidenced by an obvious lack of posts, it goes without saying that I haven’t been doing much cooking this past year. But then I just said it, so I guess it goes with saying. I likewise haven’t been doing much writing, so this rebirth comes with some trepidation. But one must start somewhere, and thus I start here. With a dinner party.
The menu was simple, but extensive for someone out of practice!
There were canapés,
an amuse-bouche of apple, walnuts, and goat cheese endive cups, (a gorgeous recipe!)
smoked salmon with cucumber, avocado, and an Asian dressing,
cumin-spiced sweet potato soup with tarragon yogurt,
un vrai trou normand (palate cleanser) with pear sorbet and Calvados,
a main course of steak au poivre, Hasselback potatoes and Greek salad,
(I’ve never before worked with such high quality, aka expensive! cuts of beef before, so I was sweating bullets in front of that stove. My mother-in-law, while a fan of eating, is not a fan of cooking, and her kitchen is not the most equipped, so I had to get creative with the searing…)
I really miss my tongs.
and for dessert, my favorite recipe I came up with when living in Ecuador: layered lemon curd pots
All in all, the dinner was deemed a success by the guests, and everyone was delighted with the food and the company! I was tired, but happy looking around and seeing satisfied smiles and empty dishes.
But if I’m being honest, the moment I took away from this dinner happened two days earlier, in an unimpressive grocery store in the town my husband grew up in.
We were on a mission. Get everything on the list, and stay under budget. But I was struggling. My heart just wasn’t in this menu. I was exhausted from the move, adjusting to living with my in-laws, and cooking a massive meal after being out of the game for awhile now.
I was walking around somewhat aimlessly, perked up momentarily by a sale on smoked salmon but otherwise a bit lost and not sure where to begin. My husband was being a total champ, enthusiastically nudging me to the produce section and helping me work my way down the list. As he went to get some bags for the veggies, my eyes fell on a beautiful sight. Fresh herbs. I felt that old familiar feeling of excitement. I was starting to feel inspired again. Mathias (my man) came over with a big smile on his face. And he wasn’t the only one to notice my delight. A very kind employee approached and asked if I’d like to see more. More?
He disappeared through the thick plastic strips that separate the clients from the mysterious unpacked goods, and quickly re-appears pulling a pallet jack with a stack of plastic crates full of the freshest herbs they had. Ciboulette, aneth, thym, romarin, basilic, menthe, coriandre, …youpi!
From that point on we were flying high. We found all the veggies we wanted and great deals too! But most of all, we were having fun. We were a team, zipping through the aisles acquiring the food and motivation to make his parents’ anniversary meal the joyous occasion they deserved.
“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.”
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
Well we’ve acquired more words Barbara, and we’re celebrating.