Posted by: Shar & Mare | August 16, 2010

Figs Aren’t Fruit

We have a tasty guest post this week from Chloé Yelena Miller. You can read more from her at:
Writing & Writing Teacher’s Blog:
Cooking Blog:

When I met my husband-to-be online, I couldn’t cook dinner for him because I was living with my parents. The good news? He still went out with me even without my wooing him with food and, um, the fact that I lived with my parents. My excuse, that I recently graduated from an MFA program and was living a financially responsible life was a good one, but still a potential turn-off.

I desperately wanted to cook for him. I love to cook: boiling pasta I think about the flavors in the sauce and the dinner conversation. I had to wait, though. We met online and then in New York City. We spent our first dates going to museums, art movies and restaurants. When I saw what he ordered, I’d think, “I could make you that. And it would taste even better!” I had to keep reminding myself that no matter how much I liked him, I had to avoid being a show-off and freaking him out. Maybe he wasn’t already thinking about what we’d eat for his birthday dinner eight months away.

The first time he invited me into his apartment, I noticed his collection of knives pointing up on a magnet strip. His apartment wasn’t that big; the long blades caught the light and my attention. Being a nervous dater, I forgot about the asparagus or porcinis I could slice with them and thought about their other uses. That is, before I looked into his soft eyes and remembered that I wanted to make him dinner.

Once we progressed to the point that I was visiting him regularly in his apartment, I started to openly plot what I could make in that small kitchen with books on the stovetop. The first thing I made was vegetable risotto. For an appetizer, I wrapped figs with prosciutto. I knew my husband-to-be hated to eat raw fruit, but maybe I could craft a dish so delicious – ah, the salty and sweet combination – that he would see how I could change his life.

He didn’t have a kitchen table and we ate that first meal with bowls on our laps in a blue chair with a deep C-curve built for one. He ate slowly and asked for more freshly grated parmesan on his risotto. He popped a few figs in his mouth and declared that they were so good they couldn’t be fruit. Two high compliments from this lovely bearded man sitting thigh-to-thigh with me.

I was pleased to hear that I miscalculated the serving sizes and he ate my dish for days afterwards. I stayed with him in that little apartment even after I left.

Did he end up with a stereotypical Italian-American nonna who thinks the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Maybe. But don’t worry, we divide the chores equally now. I do the fun parts, like cooking. He does most of the cleaning and heavy lifting. And we eat together every night.



  1. Wonderful story, and I can just see the fantasies about what to cook for him for his far away birthday! He seems very happy with you – no matter whether he categorizes you nonna-like or not. (I really don’t see you as the nonna type, outside of the kitchen).

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