Twelve years of adventure with The Boy
Today we went to the new Davis Square location of The Boston Shaker and picked up bitters: Peychaud's and Scrappy's Cardamom. The latter is now dancing a very pleasing three-way tango with 10 Cane rum and Canton ginger liqueur.
And it's making me think about the ways in which The Boy has changed, challenged and advanced my appreciation of food.
I grew up in a small industrial town in the north-east of England. There was one sit-down restaurant (Chinese); everything else was take-out. And back in the 70s and 80s, the most exotic food we saw was the annual arrival of strawberries and melons.
There were not many opportunities for culinary adventure, and as a result, I didn't really feel the need to explore beyond the known.
But since I've been sitting at tables with The Boy, I've discovered many wonderful things.
On one of our early dates, and possibly as a test, The Boy took me to a sushi place near Harvard Square. He warmed me up with tamagoyaki, and just as I was getting comfortable, he introduced the ikura.
Eww eww ewww! Asploding seawater! Do not want!
But he was patient, and persuasive, and now I love eel and mackerel. I'll even go sea urchin if it's not too kitchen-sponge-left-in-a-tidal-pool-for-three-days-ish.
Again, not the best first impression: he'd decided to make arroz con calamares, a dish of rice and squid cooked in ink, the whole thing black and salty.
I was particularly unnerved by the very evident and recognizable strips of tentacle because, as I told him, "I didn't know where they'd been." I had visions of cephalopods scratching their butts (or their heads; I'm not sure they're not the same thing) and then ending up on my plate.
And then, while visiting his family, he ordered us an octopus ceviche at the bar at El Convento, and suddenly I didn't care where they'd been sticking their digits.
Okay, this is not as much of a stretch; the English are known for their adoration of all things porkular. But had I not met The Boy, I would most likely never have had the opportunity to travel to a town in the mountains of Puerto Rico to eat the most heavenly spit-roasted pig.
Likewise, I'd never have tasted carne mechada:
And without his encouragement, and his excitement for new discoveries, I most definitely would never have found myself enthusiastically deciding that I wanted to eat a pig's head.
So thank you, sweetie, for 12 years of eating better, and more adventurously, than I could have dreamed possible. Here's to the next dozen.