I get there ten minutes early to secure seats. It has to work. They spend the day stumbling on sidewalk cracks and bubbling with goofy unconditional love.
There is always a reason we can’t get together. We can almost see them growing in their sleep.
A dying father, sick kids, a deadline. But our daughters just want to quietly close their bedroom doors, moving away from any sense of family, escaping into devices and daydreams and vlogs.
A forgotten email thread, fatigue, an inability to be social.
So we hold them too tight.
And then finally we are all sitting on barstools with drinks in our hands. We talk about how if one of our kids died, we would curl up in a fetal position and go to bed forever. Our stories are interchangeable. How quickly we get all situation critical about marriage: Once we get to the word divorce, it’s so easy to pick it up again and throw it like a ninja star. How if someone had given us spreadsheets when we were young, outlining the ups and downs of marriage, we might never have dreamed of finding the one. We give strong hugs and go home. How as things get harder with parenting and marriage, the more determined we are to make something meaningful. I am home. I am hungry. For the first time in as long as I can remember, food hasn’t been on my mind for an entire evening. Like the novel in the drawer, the book proposal, the new job opportunity.
I pull one square of tart out of the freezer and throw it in the oven until the tomato is bubbling away.
The Kickstarter we are scared to get out there, the new family business.
I cut into the collapsed and shrivelled tomato. Its insides spill out all the things I love: anchovies, herbs, capers, lemon zest, garlic, Parmesan cheese. I scoop everything up with crispy prosciutto.
The final cut of the documentary film.
I crawl into bed and wrap a hand around my husband’s sleeping arm. I hear a happy sigh.
The book we have to finish.
I say to the dark room: There is no plan. Just a slow rhythmic squeezing of his shoulder and a gentle tracing of his left calf with my right toe.
If this tart seems crazy high maintenance, just stuff the tomatoes with gremolata, wrap them in some kind of bacon fat, bake them on high heat in a cast iron pan, and throw on some mozzarella at the last minute. Scoop mouthfuls out of the pan with garlicky grilled bread.
In the nineties, I worked in pastry at New York City's Bouley, Michael's, and Nobu. I tired quickly of sugar and burning my forearms and never sleeping. Fifteen years later I started "Dash and Bella," named after my son (7) and daughter (12). This is where I tell my stories about the intersection of cooking and parenting.