I should have gone with the pot roast. A traditional, home spun, simple recipe. A crowd pleaser. But rather, I chose what I imagined a more elegant entrée for the upcoming dinner I would be preparing for my husband’s brother and new girlfriend. “Slow cooked Halibut,” was the name the recipe book had dubbed it. I had illusions far more grandeur with perhaps a tweak or two.
It is an age old struggle. That nagging but harmless question swirling in and out of my daily consciousness, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” My sister once told me she had read a magazine article advising that the ten top stresses in life included not only the death of a loved one and public speaking, but what to make for dinner.
So, when I saw the gleaming crock pot that day in Costco, it was not the actual appliance that beckoned, but, rather the shiny, four color recipe book attached, wrought with possibility. Arriving home with this fabulous trophy I sat in bliss, pouring over the pages in awe and wonder. But first things first — what to make for the special upcoming dinner? I again turned to the halibut recipe, ignoring the nagging voice whispering, warning “never try a new recipe for a special occasion, never, never, never….”
They sat in anticipation, at the candle lit table I had meticulously set. The girlfriend had noticed the crock pot upon entering my kitchen confiding “I have so wanted to buy one of those! I hear there are endless things you can do!” You have no idea, I thought as I lifted the lid of the crockpot to check on my masterpiece. The halibut, which only 30 minutes earlier had appeared firm and beautiful was disintegrating. I had added the cream (my tweak to recipe) only moments earlier and now, my beautiful firm fish was turning into a soup. Could I possibly pass it off as bouillabaisse?
I poured the entrée into four serving bowls and confidentially approached the table. As I placed the first dish before my brother in-law, I carefully refused to meet my husband’s eye. “Rolls for dipping” I sang, as I disappeared back into the kitchen. Thank god the guests were family, I thought.
“What exactly is this called?” ” My husband finally dared. “Halibut a la cream” I replied. And as our spoons clinked in silence, somewhere in the distance, I heard Julia Childs sobbing.