I’m not sure how I ever got so lucky to be your wife. There are many ways that you may respond- you usually deflect the compliment, and insist that you’re the lucky one. Or you may refer to me as your partner because you think the word wife sounds subservient and that’s nothing like our marriage. This aside, I am still not sure how I ever got so lucky.
Do you remember when we were got engaged? I was 23 and you were 22 and we had no idea where we were going in life. Post-college jobs, the sort that we had spent years studying and paying for, were elusive. Independence was hard to find. And in all of that you took me for a walk one frigid March afternoon and asked me to marry you. I swore and screamed and didn’t let you finish the question. We spent a few days slowly telling our closest friends and families, letting it be our happy secret before putting it out for everyone to know.
In the year and a half before we got married we got a lot of questions from people. Friends and strangers both would ask us why. Why we were getting married so young. There was genuine curiosity, but there was also hostility. Do you remember how angry I would get? Or when your awful manager at that terrible hotel bar asked why you wanted to get married instead of sleeping around? The form of the answer changed but the core was the same. We loved each other. We wanted to make that love the cornerstone of our lives rather than a crowning achievement. It’s as good an answer as any. But it’s not the whole answer.
I think people need others, whether that’s as friends or lovers or partners or some amalgam of all three. I am better with you. You are the most kind person I’ve ever known, and you bring that out in me. With you I’m softer, less prickly. I’m slower to judge and to take offense. Your steadiness is grounding. You challenge my assumptions by making me explain them.
When my family was questioning my decision to not take your name you were my greatest advocate. When I thought that I might want to change jobs (and earn less money) you mastermind a cross-state move. If I woke up tomorrow with the decision to go to grad school, write a book, or enter politics you would not only support the decision, but help figure out how we could make it work. And you would do it graciously, without any bitterness or impatience.
Our friends who didn’t know us early in our relationship are always shocked that we used to fight. A lot. We spent a long time having the hard conversations and deciding kind of relationships we wanted. It wasn’t easy. I’ve seen plenty of friends break up over these fights, these conversations. When people ask how we did it I like to paraphrase C.S. Lewis and say that love is not a feeling but a decision. It’s not romantic but is often true.
But you know as well as I do that love is both. It’s you making me origami paper roses for our first Valentine’s Day together and not expecting anything in return. It’s smuggling a bottle of wine in our picnic tote because it’s a Thursday and we want to celebrate it being Thursday. It’s making me a cocktail after a hard night of work and”I love you” being the first words you say every morning. And these sort of flowery posts are usually reserved for Valentine’s Days, or birthdays, or anniversaries. But maintaining love means building it every day.
Recently we went out to ie for a date night. We have a bad habit of going out to eat and spending way more than anticipated, but if that’s our biggest vice I’m not terribly worried. We reconnect over these nights. They’ve always been our steadying point. You had been gone for work for a week and we had missed each other. We drank glasses of wine and made friends with our server. The food was incredible- tender octopus flecked with shredded pepperoni, braised cannellini beans, perfectly seared scallops, squid ink and uni pasta with clams. And then came dessert- a fudge-y chocolate torte with a shattering crust, flecked with salt and drizzled with olive oil. The tart was strewn with pistachios and topped with whipped cream, and as full as we were we kept trying to finish it. We brought it home, and the next day I ate it all. And when you found out, as disappointed as you were, you forgave me instantly. As you always do.
I love you, darling. This one is for you.
Chocolate Torte with Whipped Cream and Pistachios
adapted from Fran Bigelow via Saveur
Tightly wrapped, this torte will keep but will get softer the longer it sits. I imagine that it will freeze well, but have not tried it myself.
Makes one 9 inch torte
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips (or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dry curaçao or other orange liquor
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch cake pan. Cut a round of parchement paper the same size as the bottom of the pan, lay that at the bottom of the pan, and butter that as well. Place a large pot of water on the stove and set it to simmer.
Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set into the pot so it sits above the water but does not touch it. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate is melted set aside. Let the water continue to simmer.
Meanwhile, place the heavy cream into a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whip the cream. Once it is fluffy and stable set aside.
In a large heatproof bowl combine the eggs, sugar, orange curaçao and salt. Whisk the whole mess together. Set over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the egg mixture is warm. Remove from the heat.
Using the whisk attachment beat the warm egg mixture over medium for 5 minutes. The eggs should be fluffy, frothy, light yellow, and at least doubled in volume by the time 5 minutes have passed. Slowly beat in the melted chocolate until all combined.
Using a rubber spatula, add the whipped cream to the chocolate-egg mixture and fold in the whipped cream. Be careful to fold until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Place the cake pan in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. It will have risen, with cracks on the surface, and will smell of rich chocolate. A toothpick inserted into the cracks will come out clean, and the center should be just set.
Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. This torte is best served in small pieces with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream, pistachios, flaked salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.