Transcript for the Piece Audio version of A Cook's Notebook: Falling In (& out of) Love
He reached across her plate and without asking, took one of her Wellfleet oysters, opened his mouth and let it slide down his throat. Then he said "You can have the rest". They were out for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner - the special menu was called 'Falling in Love Again'.
He'd chosen this cozy restaurant for its fireplace and wine list and as usual, ordered for her. He always did this and she used to like not having to think. This was how it worked for the last year - and how she tasted her first foie gras - a delicacy of goose or duck liver. Over the months, she had sublime risottos drizzled with truffle oil, rare Spanish cheeses and she learned to express the subtleties of sherry-swirling words around in her mouth like Amontillado, Oloroso and Fino. Her culinary landscape expanded in textures, tastes, flavors and aromas that she'd never even dreamed of. She ordered subscriptions to food magazines gleaning from the latest chefs their recipe ideas and sophisticated cooking techniques. She was a natural, a quick study and he found it attractive.
Last year on Valentine's Day he'd given her box bittersweet chocolates filled with passion fruit essence and a dozen long-stemmed red roses. They never even made it out to dinner that night. That was at the beginning when the world didn't matter and all between them was rapture and delirium.
He used to hide hand-written poems and love notes in her purse or drawer but lately they'd dwindled into emails that he signed off with lowercase x's and o's. She printed them out, savoring every one of the sweet, little memos sent by her busy lover when he had a moment. But on this Valentine's Day when she opened his electronic greeting card, she wondered if she hadn't confused love with something else altogether, as the animation of a beating heart pulsated on her computer screen - confirming their 7:45 dinner reservation.
He was about to order for their 'Falling in Love Again' meal, when she asked him "Please, not the foie gras, not tonight." "Why?" he said "It's pan-seared - their signature dish'. She recently read how they farm it. "Did you know that they stick a long funnel down the goose?s throat - force feeding the bird in order to enlarge its liver?" "Yes" he said "and so did the Romans. It tastes amazing, and your point?"
He did give in and ordered the oysters for her instead but not before commenting that if it hadn't been for Man - the goose would've remained a lowly, honking waterfowl. His roast pheasant and her poached lobster with scallops and pea tendrils soon followed.
For dessert, she had the saffron panna cotta with blood oranges and pomegranate seeds and he had honey madeleines. When he reached over with his spoon for a taste off her plate she stopped him mid-air - gripped by the realization that the crunchy red seeds were a distraction - a reduction of grapefruit would've harmonized so much better with the smooth panna cotta.Back