As a novice, perhaps I should have started with something simpler than French cuisine. Maybe Italian would have been smarter. How could I have messed up pasta? Dump some jar tomato sauce over some chicken, sprinkle fresh rosemary and oregano and bake at 350 for 40 minutes, that would have been the more intelligent entree to my entrée. Attempting to be a “Wife” on Sunday night, I came up with an idea. “How ‘bout every Sunday night I cook dinner and each week it will be a different nationality,” I asked M. I was trying to sort out all the cooking utensils and supplies that were gifts which still sat in boxes months after my bridal shower and our wedding. M’s ears perked up. It wasn’t the thought of me cooking, but the concept of being provided with food and not a take-out menu and a cell phone. “Are you sure you want to be that adventurous?” he asked, trying to say, tactfully, ‘maybe you should start with boiling water.’
“Pish Posh! No worries. I am going to go over to the Bridge Market and pick up some essentials and I will be back. Dinner at 7?”
I wandered the aisles of the mammoth Bridge Market looking for the perfect ingredients for my perfect meal. Voila, I thought as I grabbed a wedge of brie and tossed it into the cart. I popped through the store imagining what meal I should prepare and came to rest on the idea of Chicken Cordon Bleu. Swiss cheese, white wine, gruyere, ham – I checked out with all the essentials.
I had already selected a perfect French red at the Wine Shop that morning and I was ready to get cookin. Packages in hand, I came back into the apartment. “Scoot!” I told M. “Give me an hour in the apartment alone and when you get home we can have some appetizers.” I reached for my beret, circa 1998-Monica Lewinsky and put it on.
“You can’t be serious? Are you really going to wear that thing?”
“I am channeling the French.”
With that, M gathered up his Blackberry and the New York Times and headed for the door. “I am going to sit in Starbucks and read.”
Following the instructions I started to prepare dinner with all my shiny new kitchen gadgets – mixing bowls, a French whisk, Teflon pots. I set the table with a beautiful antique tablecloth we received as gift, lit the candles in the crystal candlesticks and carried over the red wine glasses to the table. I was impressed.
The clocking ticking down to M’s return, I laid out the cheese platter I made encircling the variety of French cheeses with water and stone wheat crackers. I returned to the kitchen to check on the chicken and the roasted vegetables progress when I heard the key in the door.
“Wow,” M exclaimed as he caught a whiff of the food. “It smells really great!” Perhaps he was expecting to walk in and catch the unmistakable aroma of fire and burned food, but he looked truly impressed and happy as he hung his coat on the hook. “Go sit down. You look famished,” I said in my best Jewish-mother voice. “Eat, eat, eat! You are wasting away.” I pushed him towards the dining table handing him a glass of Bordeaux as I scurried back off into the kitchen to find serving dishes.
“Carrie!!” M screamed from the other room.
I rounded the corner to find M standing over Chief and the remnants of what was the cheese plate.
He looked guilty knowing he had been caught. Wagging his tail fast and furiously, he didn’t seem repentant merely annoyed that his meal had been interrupted. As I cleaned up Chief’s buffet, I completely forgot that I had sauce on a high flame in the kitchen until I heard M shout my name. “Carrie!!”
The sauce had boiled over the edge of the pot and was dripping down the front of the oven. I ripped it from the burner and threw the whole pot into the sink and let the water run over it as the smoke alarm finally let out a loud shriek. I bent over to clean the floor where the Beurre Blanc cascaded in bubbling pools on to the ground. Chief helped with his tongue and I used a roll of paper towels to soak up the mess.
“Here,” M said pushing a take-out menu under my nose. “I am thinking we go raw tonight. How ‘bout sushi Japanese dinner on Sunday?”