There are certain dishes that I consider to be Ian's. Shredded Mexican chicken. Fajitas. Anything on the grill. These are all things that he found the recipe for, that he originally cooked for me (and not the other way around). There are so many recipes that he pulls off the internet that I end up cooking, but sweetheart that he is, he sometimes takes on the cooking responsibilities, too. So when we plan meals like last night's "Skinnier Chicken Stroganoff" there's a part of me that clasps my hands and sighs romantically. Remember when he first made this? Oh, that was a nice evening...
Of course, Ian has no recollection of this at all. Even if he's made the dish for me several times. Each time he closes the cookbook, it's like his memory is erased. He retains nothing of the romance or the recipe. Of course, he was the one cooking so it probably wasn't as romantic for him. And recipes often seem to stress him out--he has such a fear of messing up. And, to be fair, he has messed things up in the past. So has any cook. I'd argue that even the Barefoot Contessa has burnt a chicken or turned out lumpy pudding. And I don't think she'd argue back.
Anyhow--last night, being that it was one of "his dishes" on the menu, I made the mistake of assuming that Ian would cook. Which freaked him out. Because he didn't remember. Oh well. I came to his aid, and an interesting thing occurred. Usually, I am in charge of the real cooking, boiling and sauteing things, etc. while Ian is in charge of chopping carrots and pulling things out of the pantry. This time our roles reversed. It seemed to tickle him, having me as his sous chef. And I realized, trying to chop quickly enough and fumble back and forth with ingredients, that being the sous is not such an easy job. We only have so much cutting board space. Sour cream and flour make strange bowl-fellows (but turn out a delightful sauce). Whole wheat fettucine takes forever to cook. Of course, I knew these things before--maybe not about the sour cream, but the rest of it--and yet, it was more stressful than being in charge of cooking the chicken through or making sure the spices go in at just the right time. Not in a bad way. Last night's cooking was fun (Ian and I were extra glad to see each other because I'd been away at school the night before and our cooking was punctuated with kisses) and the meal was delicious. I guess it was just fun to cook one of "his dishes" together.
Sichuan Chili Oil
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