A language of love

Last night I was describing my meal in great detail to my boyfriend who is in France on holiday. We’ve been together for 6 years so our conversations aren’t filled with romantic murmurings. In fact, we’ve never been very romantic. We have a relationship built on doing things together – cycling, swimming in the sea, boxing and now, cooking … He wasn’t a foodie when we first met. He was simply a French man who’d eaten normal French food prepared by his mom and then later, his girlfriends. But I realized last night as I described my dinner, ingredient by ingredient, that he hung on every word.

A couple of days ago a girlfriend came to stay. She arrived with suitcases and bags filled with artifacts of the life she shared with her now ex-boyfriend. I was delighted to have a girlfriend visit me while my boyfriend was away; trying on each other’s clothes and shoes! It took the taxi drive 3 trips from the cab to my hallway to unload. She handed me a bag filled with chocolate and champagne. A little later, after we’d scrunched all of her things into the tiny guest room, I looked into the bag and found, to my delight, something I’d never seen before. Chocolate pasta! Three bags of chocolate penne! She came to my house with a broken heart and some of the ingredients required for mending it.

We drank wine and I cooked. She, like my boyfriend, isn’t a foodie either. But from the coffee and toast to the simple rustic soup (artichoke heart, potato and chick peas) and tortilla chips, she raved over every bite! Then last night, her second night here, I got up my courage to cook the chocolate pasta. There was a proposed recipe on the package, which inspired me to improvise. I don’t eat salmon, one of the suggested ingredients, so I used capers. The sauce included a couple of tablespoons of marscapone, fresh basil from my garden, grated pecorino cheese and capers. The pasta tasted of chocolate, but in such an earthy way, and the creamy cheese pulled it all together. It reminded me of the tiny layer of chocolate in my favorite Oaxacan mole sauce.

So, this morning I realized that even though haven’t been cooking for my boyfriend lately, I was still speaking to him with love as I shared stories of my meals. And even though my visitor doesn’t know how to cook (not even a cup of coffee, she admitted) and doesn’t spend any time thinking about food, she felt bathed in love as I told her my plans for our upcoming meals together. I’ve always known that cooking for others is a way to express my love for them, but I am delighted to find that talking about food has the same effect.

2 thoughts on “A language of love

  1. Ammie

    Oh Shelley – you are a love!! and I really, really enjoy your cooking! I cannot come to the next Nomad chef, but I am sending you our lovely cousin William’s wife, Becca, who will be visiting London next week, I think. Hope all is well — xxoo AFW

  2. Jill

    I love this and it’s great news as I’m constantly telling people what I’m cooking! No wonder it’s so hard for me to stay out of the kitchen when I find it the most concrete way to show people I love them!

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