A Meal of Many Parts

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I've never been much of a cook. In my teens and early 20s, I subsisted primarily off of baked potatoes, mac and cheese and tomato soup. These days, left to my own devices, I'm just as likely to have a bowl of cereal for dinner as I am a salad or a piece of fish.

While I can adequately feed myself, cooking for someone else has always been a bit unnerving. So it must have been some wild, romantic notion that inspired me to cook Valentine's Day dinner for my new boyfriend.

It didn't take long for me to plan out the menu: seared ahi tuna, asparagus and wasabi mashed potatoes. My repertoire is fairly limited, and mostly gleaned from a handful of former boyfriends who were far more skilled at the culinary arts.

As I prepared the meal, I thought about these men from my past. I thought of the editor who was sometimes impatient with me but never with his soy sauce marinade.

I thought of the firefighter who taught me the secret of baked asparagus -- and who I thought I might marry -- until he cheated on me.


I rinsed the potatoes in my green metal colander, a gift from the thoughtful but stubborn engineer who I went three rounds with before breaking up for good.

I flipped the tuna with the wide orange spatula given to me by the sweet, shy teacher who seemed in a hurry to settle down, and married the next woman he dated after me.

We are all products of our experiences, and each of my relationships taught me something -- good and bad. They helped to make me the person I am now. This meal I was preparing was made up of many small parts and many big experiences.

As I worked, my new boyfriend poured me a glass of wine, and asked if he could help. I showed him how to make the marinade, how to slice the potatoes. I demonstrated my trick for snapping the ends off of the asparagus.

And then we sat down together at the table to share a meal, and whatever else may come after.

With a Perspective, I'm Lisa Thomson.

Lisa Thomson is a marketer and writer. She lives in Oakland.