The Beast took me for dinner last week. Do you want to know where he took me? He took me to Harry’s Char Broil & Dining Lounge on Jameson, just south of King Street. Let me set the scene for those of you who aren’t familiar with this part of the city:
Foodie: (walking to Harry’s along Jameson) Did you just see that pregnant lady smoking?
Foodie: She was at least seven months along! If you’re going to smoke when you’re pregnant you should be so shamed that you’d avoid doing it in public! Why are we going to this place again?
Beast: Because I just want an old-fashioned hamburger. You know the kind? Like a classic Banquet burger–from a high school cafeteria.
Foodie: You’re paying, right?
The Beast opened the door to Harry’s for me and the interior looked like it had been lifted straight out of a Twin Peaks set, or hell.
Beast: No way! It’ll be fine.
We stayed. It was just what the Beast wanted. I endured, only because our server was a real charmer. But enough about Harry’s. This post is about nostalgia.
The first meal I ever made for the Beast was my mom’s macaroni and cheese. It was five years ago, and we had whisked ourselves away in the middle of January to the Beast’s family cottage. I did all the grocery shopping of course and was quite manipulative in my meal choices. That first night, I wanted to woo him with comfort food. So I chose mac & cheese. But I was a bit nervous to be honest, because the mac & cheese I grew up eating is quite different from other people’s. For example, it has canned tomatoes in it, and it doesn’t call for bread crumbs. I feared that the Beast would think me provincial. But I trusted my instincts in the end. Besides, I’ve never seen anybody eat just one helping.
The best part is that it’s dead simple to make: All you do is cook your macaroni, then layer it in a baking dish with diced up cheddar, onion, and smushed up canned plum tomatoes. If you want, you can top it off with a little milk or cream. That’s it. Don’t even add salt & pepper–you can do that after it’s cooked.
My mom always serves her mac & cheese with corn, white kaiser buns, slices of dill pickle, and on occasion, slices of kielbasa sausage. I have no idea why. I still serve mine with the corn. I’m shaking my head in disbelief as I think about it: macaroni & cheese, with a side of corn. But it just works. And it sure worked that first winter night at the cottage! The Beast was silent as he ate, and I–not knowing him like I do now–interpreted his silence as him being gastronomically unenthused. Finally, I had to ask:
Foodie: Sooooooooo…..what did you think of the macaroni?
Beast: Amazing! Is there more?
Foodie: Of course there is.
The rest is history.
I made macaroni & cheese last night in celebration of this blog’s one year anniversary, and it came out of the oven, all crispy on top, just in time to watch a new episode of Hell’s Kitchen. We both had seconds. The Beast had thirds.
Beast: Whoa. That was great. What’s for dessert?
Foodie: Are you serious? Well, we do have a basket of Ontario peaches, and there’s vanilla ice cream.
Beast: Ehh. Aren’t those peaches hard?
Foodie: They’re actually perfect today. What are you doing?
Beast: I’m getting up to change the channel (our remote control is broken).
Foodie: But that new fat show is on next and I think I’d like to watch it.
Beast: Not a chance. We’re watching the news.
I didn’t argue. We ate peaches and ice cream while watching the BBC news. I learned a lot, like Nigeria isn’t looking so good these days, and you can make upwards of 90 000 bucks a year by pretending to be a witch at a British amusement park. But once the Beast left to do the dishes, I turned it back to More to Love, a new “Bachelor” style reality TV show featuring rotund ladies vying to marry a rotund man. I shouldn’t have. I felt rotten and confused afterwards. How could all those women fall in love, and I mean crazy-in-love, with a man after spending only minutes in his company? Come to think of it though, all the Beast had to do was ask me to take tap-dancing lessons with him while he was wearing a hand-me-down cardigan that once belonged to his mother, and I was smitten for good.