Good Monday, readers. According to my calendar, this Saturday is Sweetest Day. And to honor the occassion here is an essay I wrote on romance. (And you thought I knew nothing about the stuff!) But before I dish up my essay, here are the two winners of Healing Love by Laura Hilton, from my contest last week. Yes, I drew two since so many folks entered: Chris Granville and Angelica–please email me with your mailing addresses. Your our two lucky winners this week! Now, here’s my essay:
Gourmets and cooking-show fanatics will cluck their tongues and shake their heads at this post, but I must share the story of the first dinner I cooked for my boyfriend (now my husband of 38 years). We were sophomores in college and had only been dating for several months. Yet, somehow we both knew this was the one. Keep in mind, any time my mom had tried to teach me to cook I would run in the other direction. Even chemistry homework appealed more than anything in the kitchen. So when Ken asked me to fix him dinner at his home over Christmas vacation, what did I say? Sure, why not? After all, how hard could it be? I packed all the ingredients and purchases from grocery store into my Corvair and drove to his house. The rest of his family would be out for most of the evening. Did I take a cookbook? Of course not, since my mother didn’t own one. She’d learned everything from Grandma Ellis who didn’t speak a word of English. Ken chose fried chicken and potato salad as his favorite meal. I added iceburg lettuce with bottled dressing and green beans straight from the can—no butter or seasoning whatsoever—to round out our culinary fare. I breaded and fried the chicken, then kept turning the pieces over in the skillet until I set off the smoke alarms. After all, I had no idea when they might be done. But the extra crispy chicken turned out far superior to my potato salad. Since I had no idea when peeled and diced potatoes might be cooked, the finished salad resembled mashed spuds studded with tiny pieces of celery, onion and hard-boiled eggs. Ken loved my dinner. He not only cleaned his plate but raved about everything. Not surprisingly, you say? Probably not…after all I was a cute-as-a-bug nineteen-year-old, and he was enchanted with me. But here’s the best part: When his parents returned from the movies and his older sister from her date, they all grabbed plates and began to eat up the leftovers. They raved about my cooking, too. In fact, my late mother-in-law’s exact words were: Oh, my, Ken. “You’d better not let this one get away. A girl who cooks like this is a keeper.”
I went home that night loving his family and thinking I was a good cook. It would be some time before I found out I stunk in the kitchen. But Ken proposed that Christmas and we marred six days after our college graduation. I still miss my mom and my mother-in-law. They both taught me unconditional love is far more important than anything that goes into your stomach. Before she passed away, my mom did teach me to cook during our first years of marriage. But every now and then I still set off smoke alarms…just for old times’ sake.
Have a super duper week, readers.
~with love from Mary Ellis