Not long ago, my husband made an offhand, jokey statement so startling that I can no longer recall the context. All I remember is the phrase “because we’re fat.” It was the pronoun we that struck me. My first thought was speak for yourself doughboy, followed swiftly by you better sleep with one eye open for a while monsieur. When I mentioned this to a thrice married man (who now knows very well what and what not to say to women), he hit the nail right on the head with, “You’re Neil’s first wife aren’t you?” I nodded and he said, “It shows.”
While the chances of Rusty ever being right are slim indeed, this time he may be on to something. Not since my first winter spent in France has my midsection received any kind of spousal scrutiny (see chapter in Finding Me in France called Middle Age Spread for the gory details). I haven’t stepped on a scale in years, but there’s no denying a certain sausage like quality found in my physique these days. Of course it’s entirely possible that all my pants have shrunk solely at the waist. A curse upon that new gigantic Canadian washer/dryer set of mine.
The other possibility is some synergistic side effect of 45 years of living coupled with an exercise regimen that lately can only be described as lacklustre. I prefer to blame the local chef. Sure, I’m aware of the fortune found in a sidekick who loves to cook, but honestly, what the hell does he expect? Last week he made two batches of double chocolate chip cookies AND a banana bread so laden with dark chocolate it came out of the oven as black as night.
Saturday past, we had two friends over for dinner and he started by covering a huge wheel of brie cheese with raspberry coulis, wrapping the whole thing in puff pastry, and baking it until it was perfectly goolicious. He put some grapes and low fat crackers on the platter, but he wasn’t fooling anyone with that feeble gesture. Then he ladled up a thick butternut squash and ginger soup with a choice of a giant dollop of sour cream or sticky coconut milk, either of which I might as well just spread all over my arse because that’s where it’s inevitably headed.
Then he plated colossal lamb shanks that simmered in a black cast iron vat for a full day in a rich sauce of red wine and herbs. They nestled into a pile of root vegetable purée accompanied by a mountain of green beans slick with creamy butter. Chardonnay and pinot noir flowed freely and the whole gastronomical event was capped off with a mandarin orange cake smeared with thick cream cheese icing courtesy of our guests. All I needed for dessert was a shot of Pepto-Bismol.
I mean what am I supposed to do with that mess? This kind of thing goes on here all the time, Saturday nights, Tuesday nights, guests, no guests. Next I’ll be wearing nothing but muumuus and caftans. Maybe packing on a few pounds here and there is the least of my concerns. The biggest cardiovascular disease risk factor I have is living with Neil. As the person responsible for setting the table (a vital contribution to the household), I’m thinking of tucking a defibrillator under the dining room table, maybe a syringe of adrenaline for the next food induced coma.
Anyway, if I appear ungrateful, not so, I am endlessly thankful. I see his cooking as sustenance for both body and soul. It’s the way that husband of few words (or unintentionally awkward ones) shows this wife his heart. As long as he remembers each man is the architect of his own fate—I’m not the only one with a waistline affected by his culinary offerings. If he opens his big trap about the state of my weight again, I’ll open the fridge in this glass house and show him the stones he throws. The only answer is for me to take over the kitchen. We’ll both be ten pounds down by December.