Besides our shared love of food, the Cub and I share a fascination with other cultures and the travel that takes you there. Years ago as an upstate girl, the local grown hometown boys held no interest. I dreamed international! Another recurrent dream was imagining what was beyond all the trees along the thruway to the Big Apple and farther. Choosing to go to college at Georgetown University located in the very international city of Washington, D.C. was a huge departure from my family. Later, not content with the U.S., I lived in the south of France with my daughters at a moment when I needed the Atlantic Ocean between my husband and me.
Today my travels are limited due to lack of resources and a focus on school.Every negative can become a positive as this forces me to make hard choices about how I use my few travel dollars. I’ve decided that there is no DR in my future but there will be a priority on making visits to reconnect with my friends who live around the world. A huge appeal of travel is the exposure it offers to new cuisines. My belly still remembers the trip to Hanoi with JuJu, eating the best pho at street stalls, squatting as Asians do, around small plastic tables on the sidewalk on child size stools. Personally I’d love to see the Porcupine at such a meal!
I also remember the trip to Morocco for a mechouia in honor of friends’ first born son. Since these very friends live in our building, I wrangled a dinner invitation to their spacious, impeccable apartment so the Cub could talk Morocco, the site of his upcoming trip. C&C made the food; power couple provided the drink from their sizable wine cellar. BM was born in Morocco and spent his formative years there as a “pied noir”. This term refers to people of French (or other European) ancestry who lived in French North Africa, often for generations, until the end of French rule. He reminds me of the French actor Gerard Depardieu in bulk and appetite. MH-M takes a hyphenated last name as she is the real power in the couple and won’t be defined merely by her spouse’s ancestry. She’s German and a powerhouse like a BMW.
What’s nice about this dinner to go on a Sunday night is all it requires is taking the elevator three floors up. Since we were there for Morocco, I wanted lamb on the menu. Have you seen the price of lamb loin chops lately? At $21.99/lb with BM’s appetite and their teenage son (of mechouia fame), I settled on perfectly acceptable lamb kebobs from Whole Foods for outdoor grilling on their balcony. (MH-M prefers her meat organic.) The menu was a reflection of summer as a watermelon salad with feta, olives and red onion rounded out the main course. Despite not really liking watermelon, this salad has become one of my favorites. The lime juice softens the red onion; the feta and olives add saltiness and the watermelon is crunchy and watery at the same time. This is a salad that needs to be consumed asap so don’t make any for leftovers. The Cub contributed dessert in the form of pistachio madeleines and a raspberry clafoutis. Very pied noir as a marriage of French and Morocco inspired menu. BM insisted on adding a cheese course. Mais oui!
The evening was inspiring for reasons besides the food and travel. I have known this couple over the span of my marriage which represents a very long time. What is remarkable is that they have not let their fire go out. When you are in their company, you still see evidence of a spark between them. They are opposites in many ways and use this to tease each other playfully rather than impose change upon each other to conform to their individual expectations. They accomplish the impossible in human dynamics by making their differences a source of delight rather than the source of conflict and strife. They seem to genuinely to like each other and have found a balance between their personalities that most couples never attain.
I certainly missed the mark with this in my marriage. Always futilely hoping that we’d grow closer once the children were grown and money worries diminished, we simply grew apart and he fell into someone else’s arms. It was the children who kept us together and when they left, we fell apart. In truth, we never really had that spark, that dynamic that keeps you interested in another human being as forever fascinating. It’s no surprise they call it the Tinder app because spontaneous combustion between people can happen. Today I’m hopeful in another way more like a tornado waiting to meet a volcano or two force fields of equal energy between two people who come together in strength. Alas, I still can’t imagine him being an American guy, and as the Cub suggested, may have to wait for his appearance when I teach abroad. Apologies to Eminem, but in honor of the relationships that last, that keep on growing and adding to the flame in a positive manner, I offer another song, New Flame. But then again I could watch Chris Brown and Usher dance all day.