Sunday afternoon. Sun shining through the skylights. The Chef and I are in the kitchen, music playing in the living room — Stevie Wonder, as I remember — and we are dancing. Our knives are chopping little staccato rhythms on the cutting boards. Our hips are swaying to the songs and our happiness at being together. Friends are coming over in a couple of hours. We have the day off.
He is chopping the stalks of asparagus, just come into season. The woody bottoms he scoops into a metal bowl. The tender tips he sets aside. He starts with an asparagus stock, which he tosses together faster than I had imagined. I walk to the living room to turn up the music — Rufus Wainwright now — and when I have returned, he has already finished. “How did you do that?” I ask him, incredulous. He just grins. Today is not the day for lessons or recipes. It is Sunday, and we are cooking.
I return to the ginger cupcakes I had concocted that morning. They need a lemon glaze. The dishwasher needs emptying. We haven’t mopped the floor in days. Who cares?
Our friends are due soon. We have stopped to dance — to the Marc Cohn song we are playing at our wedding — and look in each other’s eyes. We dance like seventh graders, solemn and barely moving, our feet shuffling, slightly. And then we laugh. He makes a joke I could never explain outside that moment, and I laugh so hard I double over.
We go back to the kitchen.
The sun shines, but the clouds are moving in. Luckily, we aren’t going anywhere. Within a few moments, the house will be filled with people we like, including a three-year-old who will absorb all our attention for several hours. What does it matter if it rains?
But the guests aren’t there, quite yet. We are alone, and laughing. And when I look over, he has finished the vivid green asparagus soup. It gleams and seems like grass, condensed, in color. He swirls it with the ladle, to stir it one more time, before he lets me take a taste. It’s sunlight through green leaves, the peals of giggles from a three-year-old, a certain earthiness, the taste of spontaneity. Only a few weeks out of the year for asparagus, and we are eating it, fully. He’s laced it with pepper, for a little kick. Not thin and reedy, the way some asparagus soups sit in the mouth. This one has presence.
I have no recipe. I didn’t take notes. He wants to play with it, still, before we publish it.
But sometimes, recipes are over-rated. The food is only a way to connect us, these stories that sing through my head.