fish.jpgBettie One sang like a bird and dressed like a pirate and sent my libido into overdrive. She was an intoxicating beauty with a multitude of talent. But she didn’t have a talent for food presentation.

One dinner in particular stands out. Maybe “stands out” is the wrong way to put it. “Haunts me” is more like it. 

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bambin8.jpg At some point during college, probably while I sat drunk moribund glued to a booth in a club birthed by a pomade-slick headed Philadelphian, a forgettable hip-hop jam shivering my sternum, at some point I realized this is not the best arena to showcase whatever it is I have to offer women. Now, a couple of years later and back in Los Angeles, those clubs and plenty of overcrowded, overloud bars in my rear-view mirror, the thesis hasn’t changed.  I have friends1 who, god-bless them, don’t require that (trivial) intermediary step of exchanging coherent words in between seeing a girl and kissing her.  Some sort of atavistic ceremony played out to the new Kanye.  I don’t know.  Maybe I should let more chest hair peek out of my button-down shirts. 

The point is—I know I’ve missed the generational hover-craft—if I’m trying to win over a girl, I’d much rather go on a date.  Like, take her out to dinner.  Talk to her. Impress her with my knowledge of wine.2  Which defense of an increasingly archaic3 form of courtship is probably making you think either a) what a chivalrous young squire or b) kids still watch Woody Allen movies? What you aren’t considering is how many variables have to be weighed when deciding what place of repast will translate into the appropriate setting for a first date.

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dogs.jpg Friends have teased me for years.  Do I care?  Not one bit. 

So…I cook for my dogs.  When I prepare a delicious meal for friends they are all appreciative, and if dogs are man’s best friends why wouldn’t I make a similar effort for Cisco (my Golden/Husky mix) and Buddha (my Chow).  Most dog owners, when asked, refer to their pets as beloved family members. “Would you feed your family a steady diet of packaged cereal?”

Whose idea was kibble anyway?  Kibble does not exist in nature.  The list of ingredients on a can of Alpo or a bag of Science Diet is a mile long and really scary.  I prefer to keep things simple. I’m certain there is not a dog lover to be found who wasn’t alarmed by the recent recall of at least sixty brands of pet food that contained a deadly plastic called melamine.  Just a few days ago public health officials in California recalled a type of Pedigree pet food because of possible salmonella contamination.  I was outraged and saddened by the loss of dogs and cats that consumed these processed foods, but I wasn’t worried about Cisco and Buddha.  I’ve always known exactly what they are being fed.

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weddingrings.jpgAn age-old motto employed by wise women everywhere when their 60-something husbands return from the work wars to create projects from their home office.

My best friend's grandmother used that ironclad rule for the whole of her fifty-year marriage. Most especially after her adored husband retired from the illustrious law firm that bore his name, took to writing legal thrillers in the den and padding around her kitchen five times a day.

"My darling, let me miss you," she'd purr, as he asked yet again what they were having for lunch." I want to see you at the beginning and end of my day and all weekend long. To renew our otherness and share the excitement of two separate lives made one."

"But I'm hungry, " he said, yanking last night's tuna casserole out of the fridge, "And I don't want to eat alone."

"Then my darling," she implored lovingly, "go out to your club or a cafe or a friends home -- ANYWHERE but here, so that we can keep our love alive!"

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coupole.jpgSure it's a cliche, but Paris really is a tremendously romantic city. The grand brasseries like the art nouveau Bofinger or the art deco La Coupole don't just transport you to another place, but another time. They are joyful places where you want to be extravagant and order bottles of wine and big platters of seafood. When I think about my time in Paris with my husband-to-be at the time, I remember the feeling of indulgence and even decadence as if nothing beyond those gilded dining rooms mattered at all. And I remember the seafood, those big multi-tiered platters brimming with oysters, clams and lobster.

Anyone who has been through it will tell you, getting married is not nearly as stressful as the wedding itself. The relatives, the seating charts, the guest list, the cost. Oh I could go on and on. But I won't. Instead I'll tell you about the night before I got married. After weeks of handling last minute details, celebrating a birthday, entertaining and seeing to the needs of out-of-town guests and relatives, it felt like the night before our wedding was the first moment we had alone in ages.

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