I’m not very good at being romantic, but it’s not for lack of trying. I’ll always remember the time I surprised my high school boyfriend with a romantic picnic. I’d planned a leisurely afternoon in the rolling hills of Luxembourg, relaxing on a red-checkered blanket, nibbling delicious goodies and eventually watching the sun sink beyond the horizon.
I loaded up a red wagon with all the fixings: an entire roast chicken, homemade bread and a fresh, green salad. With the help of a friend, we delivered the wagon to the edge of a quiet field. I rushed home with just a few minutes to spare before he picked me up for the afternoon. Per my request, we drove around aimlessly. A few miles towards nowhere, I suddenly asked him to stop the car, feigning nausea. As he pulled over, he was genuinely surprised to find a wagon of hot food mysteriously waiting for us. When I explained my plan he greeted the idea with an enthusiastic smile. I was thrilled.
Then things got a bit dicey.
We walked down the gravel road, hand in hand, pulling the rickety wagon behind us. Like two star-crossed lovers, we certainly looked as romantic and sweet as can be, the sun glinting off our hair and smiles. Yet, as anyone who was within five miles of us could attest, the wagon made a deafening racket as it bounced and rattled all over the road. It was horrendous.
We cut our walk short and quickly settled into a sunny spot tucked between the trees and a hayfield. He helped me put out the blanket and arrange the food. In the distance a tractor drove in circles, baling hay. As we nibbled our meal, I sighed happily and glanced in his direction. He had tears in his eyes. My smile deepened.
And then he sneezed. Three times.
His allergies were going crazy. In a matter of minutes, his entire face puffed up. Although it was clear we should leave before his condition worsened, he insisted on staying long enough to eat the food. By the end of the meal he was wheezing. I felt terrible.
Today, my idea of romance is a lot simpler and definitely less cruel. I only require a smile from my husband and the occasional half-burnt candlestick (although even that depends on whether or not I can find the matches). As a married woman, this is the perfect analogy for where I am in life. I’m far too practical to send another man to the hospital for romance.
This month I’ll be making my husband the best meal I can think of – French onion soup. Like a good relationship, it takes a little tending to, but the ingredients are simple and the result is astounding.
Sasha Martin is cooking one meal for every country in the world. Her picky husband and baby girl are along for the ride. Join the adventure for recipes, reviews and more at www.globaltableadventure.com.
5 onions, sliced thinly
1/2 stick butter
1/8 c. flour
1 1/2 c. dry white wine
6 c. water
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig parsley
4 slices toasted French bread
4-6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
Cook the onions over medium-high heat in a large pot with butter. Once the onions are softened, reduce the heat to medium and cook until deeply caramelized, stirring occasionally. This can take 30 minutes to an hour.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Splash in the white wine to deglaze the pot, being sure to get all the browned bits off the bottom. Add the water, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, then adjust the seasoning.
Ladle into ovenproof bowls and top each with a piece of French bread and a sprinkling of Gruyere cheese. Place under broiler until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. Serve immediately.