COOKING IS LOVE

Me making my favorite dish in the world: kalbi jjim, Korean short rib stew, for New Year's Eve. And Ridhi making Indian butter chicken.

Me making my favorite dish in the world: kalbi jjim, Korean short rib stew, for New Year's Eve. And Ridhi making Indian butter chicken.

I marvel at people who eat takeout every day. Not just because it's so costly, but also because it means they're missing out on what I consider to be the most fundamental ingredient of a homecooked meal: love.

When I cook, it's how I show my love. When my kids were younger they used to say "Mommy, you should open a restaurant. You're such a good cook!"  What they were responding to was less about my culinary skills and more about the fact that their mother prepared it for them. To this day my daughter's favorite meals are a very simple slow rcasted grape tomato cappelini with feta and bacon, egg and kimchi fried rice. And my son loves any fried rice I cook. Watching them enjoy their food gives me such joy.

I also love to cook for my friends and lovers. My favorite way to entertain is hosting dinner parties; it's so much more intimate than sitting at a large table at a restaurant. First, I can control the choice and volume of the music, which has gotten out of control in NY. Second, we can stay for as long as we want and move to the living room to play Taboo and charades. Third, I share my love through my food. 

Over the holidays my brilliant friend Ridhi Tariyal, who is of Indian descent, stayed with the family and I. She came across the country just to meet my mother and it was very important to her that she cook Indian food for us. She made us butter chicken. It was rich and flavorful and delicious. It was better than any Indian food I've had in a restaurant because she made it: she asked what we liked or didn't, went shopping at the market then hunted down the spices, marinated the chicken and spent hours prepping.

Jacques Pepin said "Cooking is truly an act of love." Oui, monsieur, c'est vrai.

BREATHLESS

While I was married I never thought about other men. But in the last gasps of a slowly asphyxiated marriage, I naturally became open to the idea. I remember the first time it happened: I'd met a friend of a friend in LA--brilliant, funny, engaging, attentive. Though it was purely platonic, I found myself attracted to him. When I got back to NY and was wandering through the alluring aisles of K Mart he called. When his name showed up on my phone, my heart leapt, like a schoolgirl. And that response had me shook. 

And as I ventured into the single jungle I started to look at everything and everyone differently. Some of the men whom I had met and befriended while I was married, now were potential lovers. That was deeply discombobulating. The boundaries were melting and I was wobbling about on dull skates. 

The divine Corinne Bailey Rae wrote a song on her first album called BREATHLESS about falling in love with her best friend. This song was my theme song for a short time while I found myself romantically drawn to a long time friend. Though it wasn't sexual, it definitely wasn't platonic either. I wanted to run into his arms and just stay there in the warmth and comfort of his love and tenderness. Nothing ever happened, but I learned that feelings and relationships are porous and we should be open to all possibilities.