The day that David proposed, he assembled a picnic of food from our favorite places. He picked up roast beef sandwiches from Clementine’s, mint lemonade from Literati, strawberry steak salad from Damon & Pythias, cupcake babies from Vanilla Bake Shop. I had an early class, and all I wanted was to go back to my room and take a nap. But the food convinced me. He was speaking my language, a language that I had discovered sometime in college, somewhere along our string of dates.
Seven years since then, some of my favorite memories involve food, with him.
There was Athens on our honeymoon. We took naps in the afternoon, sunburned and tired form the heat of the day. By the time we woke up, the subway was closed, so we would take a taxi to the plaka. One night, we had street gyros after seeing Public Enemies on a building rooftop. Another night, we ate dinner by moonlight, al fresco at a restaurant that served us watermelon after our meal. It was the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.
Then, on our first anniversary, there were strawberries in wine at a little restaurant on a corner in Santa Barbara, one of my favorite places in the world. On vacation in Palawan, on our island-hopping tours, we ate fish, bought fresh at that morning’s market, grilled over a fire, small enough that we could each have our own. And afterwards, in town, halo-halo that we ate out of pastel-colored plastic ice cream sundae glasses.
In Shanghai, our home for over a year, we lunched at Mr. and Mrs. Bund for David’s birthday, one of about five days in the city where the sky was actually blue. The sauce served with the steak was foamed, and the fruit with lime and pop rocks will always be a favorite. The first time we went to Da Dong in Beijing, we walked for miles in the freezing cold, not realizing that there was a location down the street from our hotel. The Peking Duck is the best there – the skin so crispy that it melts in your mouth and the sauce almost a molasses, rich and dark. They have complimentary drinks in the waiting area, because there is always a wait at Da Dong, and the last time we went, they had pitchers of a strawberry whisky cocktail.
We celebrated our 4-year anniversary in Paris and the wedding of one of my college roommates. The only time we’ve ever ordered a full bottle of wine for ourselves was in Paris, at Le Bistrot Paul Bert, where Dave picked out the best Pinot Noir i’ve ever had and where the raspberry macaron we had for dessert was the size of my head.
Fancy dinners out aren’t at the top of our list now, with a baby and my strong affinity for sweat pants. But date nights are more important than ever, when we take time to connect not about work or bills, but about our hopes and fears and the work that God is doing in our hearts these days.
This month, I’m reading
not only in the kitchen, but on the couch. It’s already found a place on my coffee table, along with
that I get so excited to fill in every day (that would make a great gift for Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking ahead).
One of the big themes in my life seems to be
. And the other big theme, it seems, is
. I want to do more of it in 2015, starting with date nights in, starting with cooking through this book, creating space to connect month by month.