Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do You Want Goat Cheese with That Engagement Ring?

The other evening,while standing in line at the grocery store, I scanned the collection of women's magazines.  The claim: "You Can't Change Your Mate--Don't Even Try--He'll Never Change" raced across one cover in crimson letters.

Why do people always say this or some form thereof?  Yadayadayada.  This is so wrong.  The thing is, you can change your mate, just beware, rarely does the change result in what you intended.

The other evening, I was tossing a bowl of fresh cooked pasta with olive oil, garlic and a couple of tablespoons of capers.  I diced a couple of very sad and soppy heriloom tomatoes that failed to make it to the salad bowl that week, and tossed them in with the rest of the ingredients.  This yummy concoction is one of my favorite 'clean out the fridge recipes' since all I need to do is chop any leftover vegetable, just shy of being doomed for the compost pile (that is, if we were those 'urban warrior farmer types' who indeed had a compost pile), I can add left over meat, bits of left over prosciutto or pancetta (if I feel like frying it up), shrimp, shredded chicken or what have you. Toss it all onto a warm and inviting bed of pasta and garlic, add olive oil, Parmesan cheese and Voila! or is it E voila!? You have a meal in less than 20 minutes.

As I poured the olive oil over this virtual mix-and-mingle party of veggies and steamy wide noodles (I use tagliatelle--it's a fat and chewy pasta), DH walked in and gave me a look of horror.  What?  Had I missed a fuzzy patch of mold on a tomato?  Were the capers really that old?  What??!  He took a deep breath.  "Are you sure you want to be using that oil?" He looked at the offending bottle as if I had chosen to use a quart of antifreeze to top the pasta.  I was still confused as I stopped midstream,  "It's olive oil, I always use olive oil for this."

He took another deep breath to denote the same degree of exasperation as if he were about to explain to a small slow-witted child the perils of crossing the street without looking both ways.  "You're using the Greek olive oil, shouldn't you be using the one from California, it's ligher and a tad fruitier?"


This from a man, who, when we first met, thought Arby's was an ideal date place.  Clearly, he had other qualities to compensate for his lack of culinary discerning...I figured, "Hey, I could work with this."  My, what have I wrought. 

My point is that you can change your mate, some women and the occasional man will use sex and seduction to transform their partner.  I knew the power, from my pre-DH days, that a lace teddy and 4 inch heels can have on changing the mind of an undiscerning male.  But those changes are/were usually shortlived.

Pretty packaging didn't have the same oomph as good food for my then not-yet DH.  I stumbled on this quite by accident. It wasn't until tired of fast food dining, I offered to cook a meal for not-yet DH that I realized what power over men really meant. I had unknowingly changed a die-hard bachelor into a man who reeked of matrimony. I don't even recall what I served.  I just recall waking one morning after a dinner of roasted pork loin and rosemary'd red potatoes, wondering who was the guy watching football on my TV and why did he have keys to my condo?

I think it took 4 consecutive home cooked dinners to score an engagement ring...Victoria's Secret?  It's really a steaming bowl of mashed potatoes made with cream and fresh chives.

Just be careful with what you're aiming to achieve as you set out to change someone. While cooking as seduction is the surest way to entrap whoever's heart your sights are set to catch, the unspoken downfall is that whatever height your cooking bar is set, there or higher it will remain.  Dinners of  boeuf bourguignonne or coq au vin with homemade cream puffs (I can't believe I did this) for dessert are akin to weapons of mass destruction.  Once fired, they can't be called back.  Not only had I created a potential husband, I created a foodie...a gastronomic aesthete.  Though I enjoyed playing the field, as it were, in the rarefied world of culinary elitism, I never intended to move there and take up residence. Least of all, did I ever expect that my DH would be leading the way to our new home in the land of truffles and smoked oysters.

The other evening, I called my husband to say I was going to be late, so would he mind calling for pizza delivery for that night's dinner.  On my way through traffic, I developed a real hankering for what I assumed DH was going to order: sausage and mushrooms swimming in tomato sauce covered with oooey, gooey cheese.

When I walked through front door, I went straight to the flat box on top of the stove...'yum, I'm starving..."  As I lifted the lid, DH came in munching a corner of pizza crust proclaiming "this is sooooooo good." between chews.  There it was: thin crust covered with sliced leeks, wilted arugula and mixture of two different goat cheeses.  "Now, that's a pizza!" he exclaimed as he took another slice.  "Here I even poured you a good Cotes du Rhone to let it aerate." 

It suddenly hit me, was I guilty?  Had I truly changed a regular guy into a foodie?  I had.  This morning as we were unloading the car from our weekly trip to the farmers market, we were redistributing the items as they tumbled from our canvas bags.  Fronds of brilliant green sprouted from the tops of fennel bulbs and ruby red heirloom carrots.  Deep green blades of leeks hid packages of artisnal boursin and tubs of fresh churned butter.

Our neighbor asked if we were hosting a dinner party.  "Not at all," DH answered, "it's just groceries."

Clean the Fridge Pasta

1 lb of good pasta -- Fresh if you can, or any dried type imported from Italy (I hate to be a snob here, but it they know pasta!
Go wild!  Add any assortment of vegetables:
Frozen peas are great.  I line the colander with about 1/2lb of frozen uncooked, on thawed  peas.  When I drain the pasta, the hot water 'cooks' the peas to perfection.
Fresh or a small can of chopped and drained tomatoes
1/2 small can of black olives
a giant, humongous Tbl of capers.
Enough good olive oil to coat
Parmesan Cheese
black pepper (to taste)
Italian seasoning (to taste)

  • Cook and drain pasta as directed--reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and toss to mix well
  • Add a bit of the hot pasta water to make everything mix easier


The Mom @ Babes in Hairland said...

Your post made me smile! I think we do change them even though they swear we can't or won't! Your recipe sounds yummy too. Stopping by from SITS to welcome you to the SITSahood! Have a great weekend.

Brandy said...

As they say, be careful what you wish for. :)

Just dropping by to welcome you to SITS!

ChocolateAddict said...

That's brilliant - my hubs is the same way, sometimes I just look at him like wtf? ;D

Welcome to SITS, fellow Bay Arean!