Sunday, November 18, 2007

Feed yourself well.

I love cooking. I don't think "love" is too strong a word; time to cook is one of the three things I look forward to the most about the weekends: Time with John, sleeping in, and cooking (may or may not be in that order).

For months before I graduated college, I was subject to the whims of a disturbingly bare, lackluster, outdated dorm kitchen, shared with dozens of girls who didn't clean up after themselves, and frequently stole bowls, pots, pans, and items from the refrigerator. Because I lived on the third floor, and the kitchen was in the lower level, I ended up trudging up and down four flights of stairs whenever I wanted to cook, arms piled high with pans, bowls, and ingredients. And besides, there was an odd smell emanating from the northwest corner - I investigated once, with almost suffocating trepidation as I checked behind the movable cabinet, suddely sure I would find a decaying corpse (I didn't, of course, but welcome to my imagination).

I hated that kitchen. I longed for my own space, one filled with light, beautiful colors, and smells -- delicious smells, this time around. No microwave from 1970, no gunky stove splattered with Rice A Roni from other residents two weeks ago, no pots with mysterious remnants stuck inside. Light, beautiful light. Colours - no more institutional decor! And beautiful foods releasing their scent into the air.

Ever since we moved here, nearly four months ago, I've been cooking, cooking, cooking. My favourite dimension of cooking, though, is sharing it with John - filling our house with amazing, warm, comforting smells, and nourishing the one I love.

And a few days ago, after a Festival of the Nations at work, I saw a thin strip of paper lying on the floor in the foyer. I picked it up, and it was the fortune from a Chinese Fortune Cookie:

Today is a day to nourish yourself.
Feed yourself well.

Our house smells amazing this afternoon. A large kettle of potato leek soup, simmering on the stove, redolent of warm bacon, thinly sliced leeks, chunks of potato, and white wine; it fills our home with the most cozy, lovely smells. It's almost time to take the pot off the heat - the potatoes are falling apart - let it cool, then puree it. It's been tantalizing us for about forty minutes now, and we can hardly keep away from it; we hover over it, spoons dipping repeatedly, tongues a little wrinkled from the hot broth.

I made a roast a few nights ago; nothing showy, but lovely - fresh rosemary and a little thyme breathing a delicious layer into the beef, red wine and smashed garlic adding another dimension; sunny carrots and earthy potatoes completing the dinner. I brought it to the table on my favourite platter, and then the apartment was silent except for the rapid clinking of knives and forks as we tucked into our food. A few minutes later, we surfaced. John was reaching over for another slice of beef, then paused, looking at me. "I wish you could make this for people back home. So they could taste the amazing food we get to eat." And my heart sang.

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