The Inconvenient Date…Or “What was I thinking?”

As close as we have ever been to Eiffel

Who sets a date for Tuesday night, Shrove Tuesday, when your church family gathers to eat pancakes and mounds of butter and ogle at the Mardi Gras Float that your children and their EYC peers and your husband has spent weeks building?  Who schedules a date to miss that?  On the Tuesday after the  busiest weekend of the year?  Apparently I do!

I called Fluer de Lys, our local French cooking school several weeks ago to make reservations for our second date. Chef Francoise was delighted to take our reservation, not for Tuesday, February 14, but the following week, Tuesday February 21.  I grabbed up the two spots for a cooking class preparing Provencal Lobster.  Most people who know me know that I am infatuated with Provence and all things French.  Granted, I have never been to France but I love reading about the people, food and wine.  I was so excited to learn French cooking from an actual French chef!

Lobster, Basmati, Butter, Caramelized Onion, Pastis

But, as the day drew closer and then arrived I was overwhelmed with work, track practice, play practice, laundry, grocery…we didn’t have bread for four days.  On top of that Kev and I had a particularly stressful weekend with our oldest daughter.  Decisions about her future and independence and growing up seemed to explode all over our weekend…the one preceding our “date.” Having her away at a residential high school compacts all the major life activities and decisions into short periods of time and we are often left with a general feeling of stress instead of enjoying the brief moments we have with her.  Driving her back to school on Sunday left me empty and frustrated.  This feeling pervaded the following few days and by Tuesday night all I wanted to do was put on my stretchy pants and hunker down with a blanket and remote control.  I didn’t care about French cooking.  I didn’t feel like meeting 20 strangers who cared about French cooking.  And, to be honest, I didn’t feel in the “date” mood. And I am pretty sure Kev was feeling the same way. (He texted me earlier that morning and said, “this day feels gross.”)  Whoo-Hoo date night!

We were the second couple to arrive and I would have to say that the first few moments were a bit uncomfortable.  Do we ask for wine?  Were we supposed to bring our own wine?  Can we eat the bread on the table, or is that for the meal?  As others arrived they appeared to know exactly what to do, which made us feel more uncomfortable.  As dates go this was a lot of work; but after meeting some very friendly veterans who gave us some pointers, I relaxed a bit and began to enjoy the newness of the experience.  It was clear that the other participants were food and wine lovers like me and Kev.  We were among culinary friends.

Francoise, that is really his name, mixed his cooking lesson with history and anecdotal information that added to my understanding of the dish. I pictured the restaurant where this recipe originated.   As he passed around the spices used in the paste for the lobster, I breathed in  each aroma and was swept away to a rustic, breezy hillside in the south of France.  I was miles away from my grocery list!

On goes the herb butter

I truly believe in “aromatherapy” and for me, cooking spices are the best.  I cannot describe how coriander, rosemary, lemon grass and sage combine to elevate simple sustenance to an almost (dare I say) religious experience.  Truly, only our God can create smells and tastes like that – no artificial flavoring here!

So….”What was I thinking?” In the end, this date was  “just what the doctor ordered,” pulling both of us out of our funk while energizing our creative and culinary juices.  My advice to other tired couples trying to date is this: don’t  succumb to the temptation to take the easy way out.  Do the Date!   It would have been easy to say “the timing isn’t right for this date”, or “we have too much going on,” but we committed to it and followed through.

Pre-paying for the class didn’t hurt either.