Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some thoughts on New Year's Eve

Maylin and I have both been under the weather the past couple of days. She vomited a little last night (this is a girl who has never vomited, but since I pointed out this fact a few days ago, it had to happen), had a fever that went away on its own, and I've had little physical energy and just feel like sleeping all the time. So unfortunately, we'll be missing out on a big New Year's Eve party. John will be going on our behalf. I don't mind at all -- Maylin's sleeping already, I'm going to write as much as I can (because I feel like I can write for forever right now), and I'll go to bed early.

Today is our fourth-year anniversary. John and I didn't have anything else planned for the special day, nor did we get each other presents -- the Christmas ones will have to do. This is typical for us. We don't usually plan anything special for "special" days. I grew up in a household with little or no celebration of birthdays and anniversaries. C'est normal pour moi.

Anniversaries are good for having you reflect on how the relationship's been going. That reminds me, when I meet up with newlyweds who mention a first anniversary or something, I naively open my big mouth and ask, "So...how has the first year been? How do you find married life? Marriage treating you well?" It really is too personal, too intimate to ask about the state of one's marriage, but I've asked it more than once in my life. I'm just a naturally curious person. Not nosey, just genuinely curious.

How do these poor people answer my question? A few minutes of silence, maybe an attempt to dodge the subject, maybe just an "ok." The general feeling I get from these people is not elation, not stars in the eyes. Not a lot of us have read guidebooks on marriage (we probably should) before getting married, but we probably all knew that marriage wasn't going to be like peaches and cream. It's more like a creme brulee -- basically pretty good but soft and vulnerable on the inside, and on the outside, crispy and slightly burnt. The less sugar on the top before the torching, the more fragile that sugary layer is. More sugar, more durable. The sugar may be how much love is in the relationship. The torching may be some tough time you've gone through together. We'll all get a little burnt, but those torchings do make the relationship stronger. Who knew that my favorite dessert would become an excellent metaphor for marriage.

Speaking of creme brulee, I had to send one back while we were down in Aix-en-Provence this past summer. The top was way too burnt for my taste. I could only swallow one or two bites before I called for the waiter. They were very nice to bring me an improved creme brulee -- the young chef even checked with me if I liked it better. In my shyer, pre-Paris days, I would not have sent back a dish. I'm glad I'm bolder now -- it means I'm not going to waste good money on a ruined dinner. Of course, I will not send a dish back if I mistakenly ordered something. At that same restaurant, I ordered some fried fish as an appetizer. Expecting some nice and crispy battered chunks or filets, I got a large mound of teeny-tiny sea critters looking at me. They were fried, they were fish, but they weren't a very appetizing appetizer. My loss.

While we're on the topic of food...I'm quite amused whenever an American restaurant alters their menu to cater to their host country. I smile when I see the Pizza Hut poster in the metro advertising tartiflette! No, it's not a pizza, but you could probably turn it into a pizza. I always thought tartiflette was a traditional dish of potatoes, bacon or ham, and reblocheron cheese served in the winter, but according to Wikibooks online, it was created in the 1980s to help increase the sales of this particularly smelly, runny cheese. This cheese is actually fantastic (if you buy it from a cheese shop, NOT from the supermarket), and even better in the rich, flavorful tartiflette. I guess Pizza Hut turned this dish into a pizza topping.

Here's the link to more info and a recipe for tartiflette from Wikibooks:
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Tartiflette

Uh oh, major wave of fatigue hitting me. I guess this is "au revoir" for now. Happy New Year everyone!

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