So, a first meal was at last cooked in my lover’s new kitchen! And another and another… and last night, yet another cooked this time by him: we have not yet gone back to our previous routine of spending the odd night in the week and weekends together,  surprisingly reluctant to be apart, despite being very independent and self sufficient individuals.

Earlier in the week, we had a Seder dinner at old friends of his parents’, almost surrogate parents to him so far away from his family in Toronto. I loved the ritual, the Hebrew words easy in my ears, almost wishing I was Jewish myself, thinking again how food rites unite us all: the celebrations marked with food cooked and served with care and love and attention to perpetuate tradition, even in its secular form.

On Thursday evening I drove straight from work to his place, via Woolworths, picking up ingredients for a paella, or rather a tomatoey fish stew with fresh prawns and hake, and leftover seafood mix from his freezer, and of course a bottle of celebratory sparkling wine: pink and brut, from pinot noir grapes only, with a fine mousse: we stood in his new kitchen and toasted to many more happy meals and moments and memories created there.

We stood there looking towards the open plan dining and lounge area, the parquet floors gleaming richly, the colour echoing the cherrywood of the kitchen units, kelims on the floor, his furniture arranged differently, pinky orangey roses in a tall glass vase, sipping sparkling wine and smiling at one another, feeling certain that between the two of us we would be able to create a nice home one day. This did almost feel like a trial run of sorts, helping to design the kitchen, choosing finishes and flooring, driving around finding the right fittings and appliances, watching the place take shape, sharing frustrations… and of course having him in my house for a month while all this took place.

Paella, leftover paella the next evening, fresh pea soup, coq au vin, and steak and chips: these are the evening meals we have had this weekend: the coq au vin at my place for old friends, the others at his place. I am busy thinking up a menu for his upcoming birthday party which will probably double up as a renovation, if not quite a house warming party! Or maybe we should call it a transformation party: that would be very appropriate! A new year in his life, a new space to live in, a new stage of our relationship, the year slipping into winter… the food slow and warming and comforting against the cold evenings…cooked in a lovely new, transformed kitchen.