Cooking is one of the most important things to me. It is a way to show the people in my life how much I care.
Trying to find the words to explain the emotional connect is something I’ve struggled with, but cooking a meal for them to enjoy- and see them actually enjoy it, few things are better.
When you go to the effort of cooking, of creating something for the people you care about; it’s not just making a meal. You are showing that you have taken the time to learn this skill, to experiment with recipes and ideas and at the end of all of this, you care enough to share it with them.
Once upon a time I had the perfect morning.
I had traveled to another country to be with a very special woman.
Ghent - Belgium is a beautiful city and the food there is some of the best in the world.
This time round we were renting a studio apartment from Air B&B. It was almost in the center of the city, large enough for two people to live- although it would be a little cramped for anything more than a long weekend.
Together we had made things for a picnic and we ate out most nights- the one night we didn’t we grabbed a pizza- sausage and bacon. I don’t remember what else was on it or even how it tasted, I just remember what it was like to eat pizza with her.
On the first day I got there we had gone shopping- so I was already planing to cook my signature dish.
The second day came - all too quickly, and we slept in. But when we made it out of bed and our day had begun, I began to prep our breakfast.
Two beef tomatoes (one tomato per person)
One pack of bacon
Cheese (ideally more than one type)
And a little bit of oil
There is a lot of prep time with this meal. She was not exactly quick and getting ready, but as she did I slowly began to work in the kitchen.
I’m not sure I stopped smiling at all that morning.
I cut the top off the tomatoes and scooped out the insides.
Then I roughly cut up the strips of bacon without separating them. Small enough cuts for the next steps but you don’t have to worry too much about it.
As the bacon cuts are lightly frying, add the herbs to the pan and enjoy the smell that comes with it.
It was around this time she had finished getting ready- yes cutting out the insides of the tomatoes really does take me that long.
I knew that normally when she wakes up she likes to watch cartoons with breakfast - yes I know, but honestly I’ll always think it’s cute.
Though as where we were staying had no TV and I didn’t think much of setting up the laptop or phone, I asked if she would wanted to listen to music as I cooked and we talked.
For the very first time, I put my phone down in front of her and I did something I have never done before- I unlocked it using the pattern so that she could unlock my phone whenever she wanted. She could have checked every message or even the fear inducing - image and video gallery. Honestly I wouldn’t have cared if she did. I never felt like I needed to be guarded and that was not something I had experienced.
After going onto Google Play Music (RIP) I kissed her on the head and went back to the kitchen. She picked the music while I grated cheese.
I may have danced when Seether came on.
When the meat was mostly cooked, I looked to the microwave oven…
Okay, this dish works so much better with a real oven, but this is what we had so this is what I had to use.
Once I was almost confident on how to use it, I turned the heat from the hob off and with a spoon I packed each tomato with the fried bacon, herbs and mixed it with cheese.
I know, so healthy.
As each tomato was respectable packed, I drizzled a little bit of oil on top of each filling, a thin layer of cheese and then put the top of the tomato back on.
Popping them in the oven on a very low heat- after all, the only point of this really is just to melt the grated cheese in-between the shredded bacon, I cleaned up the mess I had made.
I remember the light coming through the window hit her tanned skin just right. Her dark eyes shone and as I saw her smile I wondered, ‘what the hell did I do to be here?’
The city could have been on fire. The underworld itself could have open up right outside the front door and I wouldn’t have cared. This is what we had talked about. This small snippet of a life together was a dream I never knew how much I wanted.
As our breakfast cooked we danced and laughed.
A soundtrack of rock and blues in the background while the light of an ending winter broke through the window.
Dark beautiful eyes piecing through my sky blue. I never had to be better, I was always good enough. I never felt like I had to be someone else, or that I needed to fit in for her to accept who I am. Her love was always there in her eyes, like the Sun and the Moon- always there.
I can’t tell you what that dish tastes like. Even if I cooked it now I would struggle to put words to it.
For me, that meal is a memory.
When I’m down and out, when I feel the world has gotten too cold, too hard or when I need to revisit that moment in heaven, I cook that meal.
Not for the taste, but for the memory.