Sunday, July 24, 2011

And in Far Second Place, the "Other Woman"

I was discussing potential topics for future blogs with Chef Matt, and he, always ready with helpful ideas, suggested that I blog about how handsome he is. While I was grateful for the advice, I thought perhaps an entire entry gushing about the extraordinary good looks of my husband might make people want to gag just a little bit.

I felt a little bad about laughing at his suggestion, although it was, by far, not the most ridiculous idea he's ever had. So I thought it was only fair that I concede and share, not my syrupy admiration for his fine looks, but my admiration for his ability to be a good husband, despite the "other woman" in our life: the kitchen.

Restaurant life is, actually, much like an illicit affair, but one that is conducted quite out in the open. Matt is gone for long hours, sometimes home later than expected. He reads about food at every chance, texts and calls his co-workers about dishes and schedules and frustrations, checks restaurant menus online, and talks restaurant life all day long.

And he is not alone. This business is notorious for swallowing up its devotees, and very often, they love it. So many chefs are sadists who live for the thrill of the beat-down of a Saturday night rush, the challenge of unexpected disasters, and the conquering of irate eaters. When the smoke clears and the chaos is over, they lean against their flattops and pause for a breath, euphoric and slightly drugged from adrenaline. It is a high, for certain.

This can make for very difficult relationships. Chefs often top the list for highest divorce rate, and truthfully, I can see why. Waiting at home can be a lonely life. But the ones who have the business in their blood are attached like sinews to bone, allowing elusive perfection of their craft to stand between them and their loved ones.

Except for my chef. Even though he does see his line cooks more than he sees me, I know that the "other woman" doesn't stand a chance. Matt makes time out of no time and never leaves any doubt as to what is really the driving force of his days. His heart, though it beats just a bit faster when in the same room as some sumptuous cut of meat, is always at home with me.

Other wives might roll their eyes a bit if their husband ever declared, as mine does: "I love you more than osso bucco." But for me, knowing how much my chef loves osso bucco and all the other quirks and wonders of the business, that compliment is proof, beyond doubt, that he loves me quite a lot and that the "other woman" will continue to sit, tapping her feet, waiting for him to call.

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