Provençal Perspective

Last night was one of those nights when everything was going fine until… In this case, it was until we were discussing the menu for tonight while driving home from dinner at friends’. Not a controversial subject, dinner. But I happened to mention that there was still vinaigrette left from last week tucked in the fridge for our salad. Jim, the tosser in the family, confessed he’d thrown it out because he thought it was spoiled, when in truth it was just congealed because it hadn’t been diluted with water. My sorry soul spontaneously combusted over tossed salad dressing. It’s true.

Why? Because I had made it from a lovely bottle of olive oil the guys at L’Aubergine Rouge gave me when I left Arles. Olive oil, Eric informed me one night, is prized above everything in their part of France. So in my mind, it wasn’t salad dressing at all that had been tossed – it was liquid gold. And golden memories.

To be honest, I’m sure somewhere in Jim’s explanation of what he’d done and why, there was a “sorry” woven in, but my panic-struck psyche was too busy trying to recapture the spilled oil to be able to hear it. Further to his credit, Jim has made a yeoman’s effort to participate in kitchen-life over the past year, since a renegotiation of our 22 year relationship. I’m sure my unexpected, poorly timed, exasperated cooking lecture deflated his self-esteem much like the oil poured down the drain frustrated me.

Relationships are crazy things. They can go so far off kilter so fast, sometimes over big problems but usually over inadvertent slips or misunderstandings.  In the big scheme of things, that bottle of Provençal wonder could all go down the drain and no one’s world would change a bit, unlike the untimely death of a close friend’s husband two weeks ago. Now that’s a loss worth grieving. I know I was trivial.

And finally,  I knew Jim deserved a break because he’s the guy who makes it possible for me to fulfill my French fantasies in the first place. And he’s still at my side. I just hope he never gives up on conquering the kitchen. Or me.

8 thoughts on “Provençal Perspective

  1. Bruce,
    Derek shared this post with me and we both had to laugh because we have had similar conflicts many times (including over salad dressing made with expensive olive oil which Derek thought was something in the fridge gone bad!). You perfectly capture the wonderful comfort and terrifying fragility of relationships! Thanks for being willing to share this story. By the way, the paintings are just gorgeous.


  2. Richard and I just read your entry, and we both enjoyed it so much! So true about the relationship thing, it’s usually the small stuff! Also it remindeed us of all the wonderful evenings we spent with you and Jim at your house enjoying a wonderful meal with good friends!

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