Our blog birthday was the 12th - and at the time I was on a vacation with my boyfriend Matt in Los Angeles. It was our Spring Break and we made the (wise) decision to get out of Minnesota to visit his family in California. We climbed rocks, we sat in the sun, we ate and drank like movie stars and generally had a fabulous time.
I've been dating Matt for almost 5 years. I love him dearly and shudder to think I may someday have to decipher the the things that are mine from his; our books, t-shirts, and furniture are so well integrated at this point that in these corporeal items it is impossible to tell where his things end and mine begin.
This week - I set out to make the tarte tatin that Judy and I promised for our blog birthday. I bought 6 apples at the grocery, completely unlike us since we avoid fresh produce due to the cost (a sad but true fact), and set about deciding on a time I could commit to the project. Monday night seemed appropriate. I had no other obligations and it would leave me with the tart for breakfast the rest of the week.
For supper Monday I fixed incredibly gross packaged ravioli that we'd procured from a discount rack at the discount grocery. Heed this advice: do NOT buy discount food at a discount grocery. I did what I could to save it with Parmesan cheese and olive oil and cracked pepper - but it was a mediocre meal at best. While doing our best to enjoy dinner, I broached the topic of Matt and my future. We are job hunting, on the verge of yet another move, and I am seeking some level of stability. I want to know that where I go I will have family forever, and because of that I desire, very much a verbal commitment from Matt. This is not something he is prone too, and this area of discussion is very taxing for both of us. This evening, shitty ravioli aside, was no different.
Our conversation went on at length without ever going anywhere. I cried, as I do, and Matt tried to explain his feelings, as he does, and we remain in the same place. Deeply committed, deeply loving, and yet unable to reach other in the chasm between planning for the future, defining the future and living in the moment. Our conversation ended, as they always do, in a calm and warm place, no progress or peace over the issue, but calm and sincere. It was at this point I made a tarte tatin.
I'd prepared the pastry the day before and set about rolling it out between parchment. I took pleasure in beating the hard lump into submission, pushing and prodding it into place, forcing it to flatten into the shape and size I desired. Peeling and arranging the apples was cathartic - finding a pattern that was pleasing enough despite uniformity. Waiting patiently for the butter the caramelize the apples, adjusting the heat and turning my pan, gingerly flipping the now tender apple pieces in preparation of the finished product. I was so grateful to have this place to come to, even with my heart experiencing a bit of turbulence, here, with this tarte tatin I could find the peace that could not be external.
After arranging the pastry, baking, and flipping over the cast iron skillet that caccooned my tarte, Matt walked into the kitchen. With humor he said,
"You don't want a commitment from me, just my cast iron skillet."
Laughing, I responded, "Yes, if I ever leave I'm taking it with." Matt, rightfully noted that it seemed fair. And walked into the other room.
I started to fix slices of the tarte for each us, the apples were positively luminous and pastry crisp and flakey. Matt called through the doorway "But I get the dutch oven!"
I plunked forks down on the plates. "No deal." I shouted back.
And then we sunk into dessert - enjoying that moment - trepidatious of the future, but confident in cast iron (of all sizes), the decadence of butter, and the sheer, but simple, beauty of a tarte tatin.