First date

Ten years ago tonight, I had my first date with my wife. Ten years later, I remember the evening vividly. The evening, while wonderful, was not without a hiccup or two…

I started planning the day before; I had invited Robin to my apartment for dinner where I would cook. I lived in France for a year in college, and in my travels I picked up a Paul Bocuse cookbook, which just happened to be in French. Since I was fluent, I didn’t think that would be much of an issue… so I pulled it out, eager to impress Robin on our first date. The recipe for chocolate mousse sounded great — espresso, rich chocolate — what a way to impress, right?

One problem: when the recipe got the part with eggwhites where it talked about “blancs de neige”, I had no idea what the hell that meant. Snow? WTF?

So I mixed the eggwhites (knowing nothing of what happens to eggwhites when they’re beaten long enough — specifically, they turn into a foamy substance that resembles snow peaks! Aha!) and got nowhere near where I was supposed to, but then, I didn’t know any better.

Finished the recipe, put it in the fridge (where it’s supposed to chill for 24 hours) and the following night, continued with prep. Made spaghetti carbonara, a salad, opened a nice bottle of wine.

Robin showed up with flowers (talk about role-reversal!), and we proceeded to have a wonderful night. Great conversation, interesting stories, and none of the first-date jitters that I remember having on so many other occasions.

When it came time for dessert, I could not have been more proud of myself: I had made dessert ahead of time. I pulled the dishes out of the fridge, placed them on the table, and explained the back story (I may have bragged, just a little). One swipe of the spoon through the “mousse” and it became obvious that what I’d made was more like Yoohoo… having not beaten the eggwhites anywhere near long enough, the mousse settled into a gelatinous chocolatey goo that was not at all edible.

My ego shattered, I rescued Robin from having to eat any of it, and we instead sipped the wine and continued to talk. It was, in spite of my culinary incompetence, a wonderful evening.

After we said goodnight, I remember lying on the couch listening to my CD player, certain that the night would change my life. Don’t ask me how, but I knew. Less than ten minutes after Robin left, the last song on the last disc on my 6 disc player played, and the room went silent. The next morning I was scheduled to leave to visit a former girlfriend — I called that morning and told her something came up, I couldn’t make it. I knew.

Robin and I dated for the next 18 months, and were married a year later. But it all started ten years ago tonight. I’m a very lucky guy.

(Thank God that in addition to putting up with me, she’s been able to teach me everything I know in the kitchen — I hear egg whites can be dangerous if not handled properly…)

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