On the weekend I decided to make bouillabaisse. The Beast, not being a fan of seafood, was unenthusiastic. I looked at a couple of recipes–one from Julia Child, a good place to start, and another from The New Basics Cookbook, which called for green peppers, which made me ignore that version.
In the end, I just made it up as I went. And it turned out wonderfully.
While it was cooking, the Beast fixed us up some cocktails–a gin martini for him and a Martini Rosso on ice for me–and we sat in the sunroom.
Beast: Do you know that I lost 13 lb. this winter?
Foodie: That is bullshit. Do you know that I gained 13 lb. this winter?
Beast: Why didn’t you respond to that link I texted to you yesterday?
Foodie: I’m sorry. I guess I missed that one. Do you want to share something with me now?
Beast: Yes, I do:
Beast [laughing]: How can Matt Damon possibly look gayer than Robin Williams in this image?
Foodie: To me it looks like all three of them wish they were holding onto penises.
We watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler--that’s actually the official title–while we enjoyed our bouillabaisse. The Beast paused the movie roughly 14 times throughout dinner to add his own commentary, which was often inspired by my own commentary.
Foodie: Did that actually happen? African Americans being fucking ridiculed at that lunch counter?
Beast [pausing the DVD]: This is exactly the problem with this movie. It gets people like you off the hook. You watch a movie like this and for two hours suffer along with the indignities, the outrage, the debasement. And then you turn it off without knowing who Emmett Till was. Or that Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t say that very famous line about the Viet Cong. Or without understanding the 100 years after the civil war that lead to this shit or the 50 years that followed when things–miraculously, because of crack cocaine and the collapse of the American education system–have actually managed to get worse. This is ‘injustice tourism’ and it sickens me.
Foodie: Are you going to press play again?
After the movie, the Beast, exhausted, declared that he knew less about civil rights after watching The Butler than before we started it. I liked it less than Forrest Gump, which I actually really like–but I can see why people don’t. We retired to bed and he put on a recording of Eric Satie’s Gymnopedies.
Foodie: This is the slowest version of this I’ve ever heard.
Beast: It’s actually the slowest version ever recorded.
Foodie: Really? Did you buy it like that on purpose?
Beast: I bought it because it was the cheapest. Also, I really like it.
Foodie: Yeah, it’s pretty good.
Beast: You know that I hate stories about kids, right?
Foodie: Yeah, totally.
Beast: Well, today, this little kid came into work with his grandpa and bought this dinosaur toy and you should have seen him. I could tell his grandpa was trying to hurry him along but he wouldn’t stop talking to me about dinosaurs. He told me that he didn’t realize another dinosaur toy he had glowed in the dark until he took it into the bathroom with the lights off. And then, almost as an aside, he said: “I’m a dinosaur expert. Because, you know, I’m half dinosaur myself.”
Foodie: Are you kidding me? That’s a great kids story. Maybe the best I’ve ever heard.
Beast: I asked him if he was dinosaur on his mother’s or his father’s side. He said, “Because I’m dinosaur, everyone in my family has a little dinosaur in them.”
Beast [thinking]: What one word would you use to describe the outfit you’re planning on wearing tomorrow?
Beast: I choose “chamillionaire.”
Foodie: What’s that mean?
Beast: It’s when a chameleon and a millionaire meet. It’s also the name of a rapper.
Foodie: What are you wearing tomorrow?
Beast: I don’t even know.
Quick and dirty bouillabaisse:
- some good cod
- some good shrimp (I used frozen)
- potatoes (maybe 2?)
- leeks (maybe 2?)
- garlic (?)
- a couple of red chillies (seeds removed)
- canned plum tomatoes
- a couple pinches of saffron
- salt and pepper and fresh parsley
- (next time I’d add a red pepper, too.)
Prepare these ingredients in the usual order of every other soup or stew you’ve ever made. Add the seafood last so it doesn’t overcook. Then serve it with crusty white bread and butter.