Love Food

Love FoodToday marks 17 years that The One and I have been together (which is actually more like 30 in straight years). The way he tells it, it was my linens that clinched it for him.

In 1993 I bought my first bed. Before that, during college and just after, I made do with a futon or, on occasion, a pile of dirty laundry on the floor. But when I turned 32, I decided it was time to have a proper place to sleep. Bereft of the design gene my people are supposed to possess, I chose a ridiculously large model with massive head and foot boards. To camouflage this Victorian monstrosity, I purchased tons of pillows and one of those all-in-one matching linen sets that no matter how you use it, you can’t screw up—kind of like Garanimals for beds. Gold sheets with a barely perceptible floral pattern contrasted with a deep brown and burgundy coverlet and matching shams and neck rolls.

One look and he was smitten. All of his life The One wanted a bed with a headboard and lots of pillows so he could prop himself up, eat caviar, drink champagne, and read, “like Joan Collins,” he’s wont to say.

For me, it was his cooking that sealed the deal.

It’s not that he was a great cook back then, because he wasn’t. (There was that time he wanted to make a healthy cake from a box and used a wickedly peppery olive oil instead of canola. I could go on, but shan’t.) No, it was the fact that one Sunday afternoon late in October he stood at the counter in his house in upstate New York, cutting and dicing and shaking pans. For me. It was the first time anyone I cared for made a meal for me. The recipe: Cider-braised pork loin with sautéed apples.

Love food, I call it.

I remember waking up from a nap, the angled light of late afternoon long gone, and walking down the hall. Kenny G (yes, Kenny G) was playing on the stereo. I hadn’t yet thrown myself into cooking, so I was fascinated. I leaned against the kitchen doorway and watched. This was long before we remodeled. The white walls and cabinets the color of chewing tobacco hadn’t yet been painted butter yellow and Navajo white. The sliding glass door to the deck was another year away. The cutting board was an old piece of wood (and, sadly, since lost in one of our moves); the stove electric, its coils glowed red like a giant branding iron. He wore an apron; The One likes to be neat when he cooks.

I’m convinced the reason I recall that moment, that room—when so many others have slipped from memory—is the food. His love food. It anchored us in time, exerting an emotional pull that still keeps us orbiting around each other, all these years later.

Not long after, again on a Sunday, I made him a sour cream apple pie. My love food. While baking, the apple slices jostled together in layers interspersed with a tangy cream. On top a perfect pebbly streusel crown. Back then I was rail thin and ate nothing but Fiber One cereal for dinner, so he was surprised I even baked.

“I’m a gourmet cook,” I said a bit defensively.

“Really?” Was that doubt in his voice?

“Yes.” And to prove it, I pulled out the Gourmet magazine that featured the recipe. My logic was of the rock-steady kind: if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C. Ergo, if the recipe I made is from Gourmet, and Gourmet is the magazine of gourmet cooks everywhere, I am therefore a gourmet cook. He sniggered a bit but still ate two pieces, holding out his plate Oliver-like, asking, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Throughout that autumn and winter, our first together, Sundays were our pork and pie day. We never seemed to tire of these dishes. Eventually the weather warmed, and we discovered the grill together. As we grew older (and withstood three near breakups, the loss of loved ones, the inexorable march of age) other recipes became our love food. There were his tuna burgers with wasabi mayonnaise, stewed chicken and olives, and mile-high lemon meringue pie (which he made for me just once and will never make again, it was so complicated). My Christmas goose, salt cod casserole, and dark chocolate espresso cake.

As I write this, on a Sunday, The One is in the kitchen, the rhythmic toc-toc-toc rocking of his favorite chef’s knife—the 8-inch one with the cracked handle—reaches me. Something is spitting in the sauté pan; it smells like lamb. On the stereo, a movie soundtrack (he’s mercifully outgrown Kenny G). In a few minutes I’ll walk out and watch him. Thankful that we’re still together, thankful that he’s still making love food for me seventeen years later.

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swirl

Love Food, AKA Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

LC aka Dutch Apple Pie Note

For reasons that vary according to who tells the story, a streusel-topped apple pie tends to be dubbed Dutch Apple Pie here in the states. Anyone think they’ve got the true story? Go on. Tell us.

Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 50 M
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • For the crust
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into bits
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the topping
  • 3 tablespoons (11/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • For the sour cream filling
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 large (about 2 1/4 pounds) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Directions

  • Make the crust
  • 1. In a large bowl using a pastry blender or two knives held criss-cross fashion, blend the flour, butter, vegetable shortening, and salt until the mixture resembles meal. (You can instead buzz the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly.)
  • 2. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water, toss the mixture until the water is incorporated, and form the dough into a ball.
  • 3. Knead the dough lightly with the heel of your hand against a smooth surface for a few seconds to distribute the fat evenly and re-form it into a ball. Dust the dough with flour and chill it, wrapped in wax paper, for 1 hour.
  • Make the streusel topping
  • 4. In a small bowl blend together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour until the mixture is combined well and then chill the mixture, covered, until ready to use.
  • Make the sour cream-apple filling
  • 5. Once the dough is fully chilled, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and flour in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth, add the apples slices, and stir the filling until it is combined well.
  • Assemble the pie
  • 6. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 7. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, fit it into a 10-inch (6-cup capacity) pie plate, and flute the edge decoratively.
  • 8. Spoon the filling into the shell, smoothing the top, and crumble the topping evenly over it. Bake the pie until it’s golden and the apples are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Transfer the pie to a rack, and let it cool completely.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Klee says:

    Congratulations! Charming story.

  2. Patton says:

    David – I just finished Love Food. I laughed out loud throughout and I had tears in my eyes when I finished. Thank you for being you and congratulations to you and The One on 17!

  3. Nancy says:

    Congratulations to both of you on your anniversary. Cooking for those we love really is one of the best expressions of that love. Thank you for sharing your own experiences with that. Your description of your bed and linen set is delightful.

    • David Leite says:

      Nancy, thanks so much for you kind words. P.S. We still have that bed set—too nostalgic to throw it away!

  4. Lora says:

    Beautiful post. Love and food. Intertwined.

  5. Cairine says:

    Congratulations on your 17th year together! I’m happy to see you weathered three storms and are still cooking with love for each other!

  6. marcella says:

    I’m always partial when it comes to stories in which food speaks so loud about love. I hope (no, I’m sure) your anniversary day was a wonderful one, and thank you so much for making me cry – just a little, and in such a gooooood way.
    hugs to both of you!

    • David Leite says:

      Marcella, our anniversary day and dinner was indeed lovely. And I’m so glad the story touched you. Hugs back,

  7. Anne L says:

    A mouth watering, warm and fuzzy story, with great visuals. Congratulations to you both and here’s to many more savory years ahead. Cheers.

  8. Rita J says:

    That was a wonderful story. So, when are you getting married? Come to Canada and have a wonderful wedding and honeymoon.

    • David Leite says:

      Rita, we’re pretty content with the way things are now. But we love Canada, so a visit is surely in the cards.

  9. Joana Brito says:

    Celebrate, yes, celebrate. In these times when marriages don’t go too far, you have to celebrate…so please do…Congratulations!!! Love your site and your new Portuguese food.

  10. Diana Miller says:

    Happy Anniversary and many additional happy years together. When you are in love, even sharing a bowl of Fiber One can seem special. (Pie and pork sounds better!)

  11. Dianne Jacob says:

    You weren’t always a gourmet cook? Then there’s hope for the rest of us. Thanks for a beautiful story about how to love each other, and Happy Anniversary!

    • David Leite says:

      Dianne, hardly! I was a pretty bad cook. Things got better in my 30’s. thanks for the kind words.

  12. Melinda says:

    Congrats! I wish you both a lifetime’s worth of wonderful years together.

  13. Donna Rose says:

    Happy Anniversary to both of you and sincere wishes for many more glorious years together. Of course we expect a detailed recounting of the celebratory meal! With recipes if possible!

    • David Leite says:

      Donna, thanks. We went to Community Table, a restaurant in Washington, CT. Fabulous. I’ve been three times; it was The One’s first. As soon as we sat down, our friends Gary and Karen walked in, and we celebrated together. I had the most succulent duck confit with spaghetti squash, pink raspberries, and an apple cider reduction. Then for my main course I had rabbit gnocchi with all sorts of vegetables. Again a winner. Dessert was a right-side-up tarte Tartin as well as a sneak taste of pear sorbet, which was a test. Utterly lovely.

      The One had a late-season pea shoot salad with red and yellow tomatoes for a starter and seared duck breast over the most satiny mashed potatoes imaginable and a kind of a thin gastrique with a hint of apple (I think). His dessert, a molten chocolate cake the size of a soup can.

      I can’t want to go again.

  14. Garrett says:

    Me and mine are just under 2 years. Still, we share something similar. He recently learned to make my banana bread and in secret learned to make sushi as a surprise for me. I in turn am happy to cook for him and he’s sharing his burgeoning love of food with me. We’re happy for you both!

    • David Leite says:

      Garrett, that’s such a kind thing to do—learn to make the foods loved by those we love. And sushi? Ambitious guy there, for sure.

  15. Lauralee Hensley says:

    A very big Happy Anniversary to the Both of You. Wow, 17 years, that’s what the hubster and me will be celebrating in the latter part of November this year. Doesn’t seem that long though. I guess love does that to a person, you don’t look at it in the how long mode too often.

    • David Leite says:

      Happy anniversary to you and Hubster! May you have 17 more.

      It doesn’t seem that long, does it? And I figured it out, we’ve eaten at least 12,410 meals together (mostly breakfast and lunch). Puts a whole new spin on “family time at the table,” doesn’t it?

  16. Sean says:

    DPaul and I just marked our 17th, 6th and 2nd anniversaries (yes, we married three times: As domestic partners in SF, as domestic partners in CA and as actual, factual married people in CA during the brief window it was legal.) We’ve actually been together 18 years in total.

    When we first met, I was pescetarian, but nearly vegan mainly out of economic constraints. He was very much meat-‘n’-potatoes Southern boy. The story of our love is deeply entwined with food. Over the years we each expanded our culinary horizons to find common ground. I weaned him onto sushi, first the easy stuff like California roll, then on to more challenging material. I cooked meat for him even before I went back to eating it. He adapted recipes from his roots to be more accommodating to my preferences. Today, we are both fairly omnivorous. Our love grew as our palates did, together. (Also? Our bellies, but that’s another matter.)

    May you have many, many more years of love, happiness and delicious meals together.

    • David Leite says:

      Congrats to you both—three times over. That’s wonderful. I thought I’d have a tough time getting The One interested in Portuguese cuisine. One taste of chouriço, our smoked sausage, and he was hooked. Now it’s tortilha with sausage, my mom’s beans, salt cod, pork and clams, roast chicken with a pepper rub. Can’t stop the guy.

  17. Loralee says:

    There are not words for how much I LOVE this post. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, David!

  18. Hanne Blank says:

    Mazel tov to you both! And thank you for the lovely, loving post.

    My partner of 15 years often makes me blush a bit by telling people how he courted me by reading aloud to me, while I courted him back by cooking while he read. We still do this. Highly recommended.

    • David Leite says:

      Hanne, thank you! Ah, the irresistible frisson between the written word and the cooked dish….I shall read ee cummings while The One cooks.

      • marcella says:

        ee cummings! lovely choice. Have you ever tried J. Rodolfo Wilcock’s Italienische Liederbuch? It sounds German, but was actually written in Italian and contains the most wonderful and witty love poems I’ve ever read. I’m sure it’s been translated in English, I bet you both would enjoy it a lot.

        • David Leite says:

          See what you’ve started, Marcella?! Now I have to hunt down the book in English and read it to The One as he cooks devilishly marvelous meals.

          • marcella says:

            In Italian it’s been published as part of a larger work titled “Poesie” (Poems). Hope this helps! I can already picture the two of you reading/listening/cooking and it’s made my day :))))

          • Vivian says:

            Try Li Young Lee or Rainer Maria Rilke too. A poet ex-boyfriend used to read me these ;-)

  19. Denise says:

    I doubt it was your linens that clinched it for him…I think it may have been his vision of you, propped up on the pillows against the massive headboard, lounging on gold sheets, eating caviar and sipping champagne, and contently waiting for him to come through the bedroom door with a tray of his “love food”…

    and, of course, the sexy sax of Kenny G filtering down the hall from the kitchen…

    Happy Anniversary!

    • David Leite says:

      I have this image of that Manet painting of Olympia, lying there in all her glory. Thanks for the well wishes!

  20. Vivian says:

    Oh David, this post made me all gooey inside (in a good way, of course). Huge congrats on your “30th” anniversary and glad you celebrated it so deliciously.

    My hubby always said my cooking was one of my main attractions, well that and my brains, wit, the perfect face and body of course ;-). I said I could never be with someone who doesn’t eat everything I do (and I eat almost everything). I guess something clicked because we just had our 10th anniversary. May we last as long and as lovingly as you two have done, I see many more delectable dinners in your future…

    • David Leite says:

      “Gooey inside.” I like that. I agree with being with someone who is culinary adventurous. How boring otherwise.

  21. Janis says:

    David,
    I loved this story. It made me smile. Congrats on your anniversary and tell “the one” that I said congrats too.

  22. Pat says:

    Great Celebration for you, David, and The One. Happy 17th!! and more.

  23. Monica Bhide says:

    I love love stories! And I loved this. What a charming and sweet story. I wish you all the happiness.. now and in the future.

  24. Lacey says:

    Congratulations! Anyone who finds someone who really loves/appreciates them is beyond lucky! Very sweet story, and I can’t wait to make the love pie for my family.

  25. Beautiful piece, David. I enjoyed it very much.

  26. Maria Peplowski says:

    Hi David. I had goosebumps reading this story. Loved, loved loved reading it just as I do all your writing. You really are a gifted story teller. Congratulations to you – it’s not many who not only make it to 17 years but also are truly in love. My partner and I have been together fot 10 years. Wish I could repeat some of the lovely food love stories above but – he is a jock so I watch football and he eats everything I make.:)

    • David Leite says:

      We can’t tell your partner I gave you goosebumps, he might come after me! Thanks for the warm words. And when we meet for the LC cookbook celebration, I hope you and The Jock can join us.

  27. Martha in KS says:

    David & The One,

    Happy Anniversary! We have something else in common—your “30 years” together and my 30 years of being blissfully divorced (they don’t all have happy endings, but are happily ended). Wishing you many more Love meals together. BTW—is that the LOVE from Love Story?

    • David Leite says:

      Martha in KS, you always crack me up! A bit of sunshine in every comment. If you mean the sculpture, I don’t think so. It was created by Robert Indiana for a stamp for the MoMA in NYC. The cover of the novel Love Story supposedly hinted at the design.

  28. RisaG says:

    David, what a wonderful story. Love it.

    For me, Love Food is Arroz con Pollo. A dish I made many times before I met my husband and made perfectly. The first time I made it for him, I ruined it. I guess I was nervous. A few years after we were married, I decided to pull the recipe out and try again. That time I nailed it. Now it is “The Dish” for us. I make it when I am in a romantic mood, when I am saying sorry, etc.

    In those days, I thought of myself as a vegetarian and I knew he wasn’t so I was trying to impress him. Even though the dish failed, I still impressed him somehow and now we are married over 20 years (nearing 21).

    Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

    • David Leite says:

      RisaG, wonderful story. (I love arroz con pollo, too…) I like how you use it as romance food AND apology food. Clever.

  29. EllenFitz says:

    Lovely story about two wonderful people who found each other. Happy anniversary to both of you!

  30. Susan says:

    Hi David (and The One),

    I’m trying to think of something eloquent to write about how much I enjoyed reading that, and the good wishes I send your way, but teary eyes and “awwwwww…” is the only thing I have right now.
    Thanks, congrats, and best regards to you both,

    Susan

  31. A lovely piece of writing. Your words are so tender and honest, they transported me into the kitchen with you both. Thank you for letting me be a voyeur into such beautiful, private love moments.

    Here’s to you and Your Love. The two of you have found something very special and beautiful. Congratulations!

  32. joan teitelman says:

    OK. I’m late. But..you and The One should be celebrating the entire month. 17 years. Zowie. Thank you for that enchanting story. I’m STILL laughing over your “logical” assertion that you were a “Gourmet” cook back in the day. I’ll definitely have to use that one. Seriously – best to you and The One. 17 more years many many many times over. JT

  33. Carla says:

    Lovely post, David. Congratulations on your anniversary. It’s touching that you speak of your partner with such tenderness, still, even after 17 years and so much life in between. It’s inspiring.

  34. Pat Motta says:

    Congrats on your anniversary David! You have proven time and time again, the way to a man’s heart is definitely through his stomach.

  35. Eva M says:

    Beautiful love story–thank you, David, for sharing it and for your lovely and inspiring blog! It’s true that love and cooking may be linked wonderfully by creating memories that in time are becoming precious. I’m sure each of your blog’s readers’ has some nice memories linked to kitchen and love. I wish you both all the best and many more great cooking endeavours!

    Eva

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