Archive for March, 2009

3/11: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost…

It’s been over for a month. Thirty days exactly since we were last together. 720 hours since our pre-dawn parting. And here I sit, trying to pick up the pieces of my life without you.

Friends beg me to move on. “Get over it already! It wasn’t healthy for you; we all know that.”

I stare at photos of us together…you, all sparkling blue sea, curvaceous hillsides studded with winter-sleeping vineyards, me standing shyly by your side. You again, this time a steaming bowl of mussels, me watching you lovingly, longingly, hungrily.

We were so happy together.

But things change. An ocean…a continent…a language…stretch between us; spring floods your shores with birdsong and bougainvillea, dancing further away as I’m borne back to the Pacific NW on frigid, sleet-bearing winds.

The memories have been warming, but if I’m to move on with life, the magic of meals past must be relegated to an amuse bouche, to make room for an entrée of living in the now.

So I’m opening the drawer and putting them away. Notes about our beloved home-away-from-home, Mas St. Anne, and its spirit guide Roxanne will never get posted. No one will ever learn how she’s spent her life sharing all she has with friends and total strangers alike, landing b1 and b2 in a villa in the late 80s based on an email that began, “Dear friends of Harry and Sharon, I can’t recall your names but understand you may be interested in living rent-free in the South of France for a year….”.

The poetry of my Cotes d’Azur-inspired prose will never see the light of day (and for that let’s all give a silent prayer of thanks): “Red tile roofs clatter up the steep hillsides from the coast….Yellow buds vibrate against brilliant skies, trees hang pregnant with oranges, gnarled olive trees shimmer silver over palm-tree-green; Matisse’s color palette in context, in the flesh.” (Watch for the romance novel in 2018.)

Meals will go unreported, stuck forever as incomplete notations in an unformatted Word document: “Jolly dinner of cheese at the fromagerie in Crest with the self-proclaimed King of Cheese.”… “Amazing lunch of veal crepes in Grignan…how so light & crisp under all that sauce?”… “Disappointing splurge, except for the truffle creme anglaise soup with sliced truffle and foie gras; definite second course front-runner in my all-star dinner lineup.”

And what about all the home cooked dinners we enjoyed? Jackie’s chicken and green olive tagine, Anne-Marie’s slightly Asian and yet-so-French lamb and pineapple stew, b1’s mouthwatering rabbit in white wine, and b2’s succulent veal chops…one of the best things eaten on the trip and definitely my all-star dinner main course pick. And dollar-a-pound Belgian endive?! Everywhere?! Am I to let those memories die along with the notes?

Can the grieving heart find a way to move on? To revel, rather than wallow, in what we had?

Because of this economic train-wreck-thingy you may have heard of in passing, reviewing restaurants on a daily basis, even on that bargain-basement-currency known as the dollar, is out. Besides, this is Portland. Don’t get me wrong, I love Portland. But in a little nephew, ‘aww, isn’t that so super cute, and look how much you’ve grown!’ kind of way, not a, ‘I lust after your lusciousness’ kind of way.


Besides, the playing field is a bit muddier here. It’s nearly impossible to buy veal in this town, and last I checked, the Willamette River wasn’t kicking out many sea urchins. But some of the best foods come from simple beginnings: chicken, eggplant, potatoes… Since I can’t recreate the magic I’ll simply have to find a way to pay homage to our time together. Lame electric stove, New Seasons, Trader Joe’s, here we come.

Fortunately, Bruce the Vinous One has taken care of my first stateside cooking post over at Eat. Think. Drink. I don’t really understand why he can’t just keep doing them but he whines about having a business to run, his own writing, blah blah whatever. For now, he’s captured one attempt to spread the joys of France via a meal of frisée tarragon salad with poached egg, grandma’s chicken in white wine sauce, better-than-grandma’s creme caramel, and a truffle potato appetizer invented as a stand-in for deviled quail eggs (it was envisioned as an all-poultry menu) when An Dong Market stopped carrying the miniature gems. 

As for the future? We’ll see how gracefully I manage to let the afterglow of my mid-winter love affair fade as I try to build something new and tasty with the ingredients at hand. (If that fails, I’m told there’s always an audience for the latest antics of a badly behaved dog.)

Comments (5)