We were just talking about The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger* this weekend in my online Lit Happens book group as another in the time traveling genre; we were actually discussing Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore for the month, but other books came up in conversations. I remembered reading and really enjoying The Time Traveler's Wife, so I decided to re-read it. And, then, I watched the movie. But that will be another post.
And while epic, the love story was also tragic. I won't spoil the story for you, but Niffenegger addresses the themes of love, betrayal, fate, destiny, free will, and, naturally, the passage of time. All of those threads were well-written and well-considered. I appreciated that Henry couldn't actually change anything in the future though he did go back in time and make some money in the stock market for his family!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and went on to watch the movie as soon as I finished it.
Because this is a food blog, I do have to point out some of my favorite food passages. Clare can't cook. So, she admits, "I made you some pretty weird meals over the years. Peanut butter and anchovy sandwiches. Pâté and beets on Ritz crackers" (pg. 9). But Henry can cook and, on their first dinner at her house - with Charisse and Gomez - "...one hour and forty-three minutes later we are sitting around the dining room table eating Chicken Risotto Stew with Puréed Squash. Everything has lots of butter in it. We are all drunk as skunks" (pg. 131).
Throughout their marriage, Henry takes the lion's share of kitchen duties. "Henry brings out two bowls of soup, pale and thick. 'Vichyssoise. This is my grandmother’s recipe.' I take a sip. It’s perfect, buttery and cool. The next course is salmon, with long pieces of asparagus in an olive oil and rosemary marinade" (pg. 229).
He begins to teach Clare how to cook, foreshadowing what the reader knows is inevitable; Henry won't be around much longer. "We make marinara sauce, pesto, lasagna. Another day it’s chocolate chip cookies, brownies, crème brûlée. Alba is in heaven. 'More dessert,' she begs. We poach eggs and salmon, make pizza from scratch. I have to admit that it’s kind of fun. But I’m terrified the first night I cook dinner by myself. I’m standing in the kitchen surrounded by pots and pans, the asparagus is overcooked and I burn myself taking the monkfish out of the oven. I put everything on plates and bring it into the dining room where Henry and Alba are sitting at their places. Henry smiles, encouragingly. I sit down; Henry raises his glass of milk in the air: “To the new cook!'" (pg. 487)
"'Daddy’s crying,' Alba whispers to Clare. 'That’s because he has to eat my cooking,' Clare tells her, and winks at me, and I have to laugh" (pg. 500).
Ingredients serves 6 to 8
- 2 pounds pork shoulder steaks, cut to 3/4" thick
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon chili garlic paste
- 6 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons organic granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons oil, divided
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 4 Tablespoons garlic, peeled and pressed
- 4 Tablespoons thinly sliced lemongrass
- 1 Tablespoon chile flakes
- 1 cup torn Thai basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- Also needed: cast iron skillet or grill pan
Preheat cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat. In a shallow, rimmed bowl, place the pork and sprinkle it with ground pepper. Drizzle it with soy sauce. Whisk together the garlic paste, fish sauce, sugar, 2 Tablespoons oil, chili powder, garlic, lemongrass, and chile flakes. Rub half of the paste onto the pork.
Once the skillet is smoking, place the pork, paste-side down. Cook until well-charred on the bottom. Rub the other half of the paste onto the top and flip it over. Once the pork is well-charred on both sides, remove it from the pan. Put the meat on a cutting board or serving platter and divide the basil leaves and fresh cilantro between the steaks. Slice into strips and drizzle the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil and lime juice over the top. Serve immediately with steamed rice or coconut sticky rice.