Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kate Miller 22: Cravings Part Two

22. Cravings Part Two (April 2013)
            The house had been empty for two whole days, and Kate was still recovering from her after-party slump. Of course it was always wonderful to have the extra time with Mister, but she did so hate to see everyone go. But today was going to be exciting! She had gotten tickets for the two of them to go see the National Symphony Orchestra, which was playing a Chopin piano concerto (romantic delight!), and a Dvorak symphony (rousing the giants!) that very night.
             It was a slow Friday and Kate bustled around getting things done: cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, sweeping the tile. Finally, she decided to sit down for a breather and read. But at the last moment, instead of reaching for Out of the Silent Planet, which she was rereading for the third time, she instead pulled out a Chinese cookbook that she had brought back from the house in Florida. She snuggled up with Mister on the couch and opened it to the first page. It was springtime, and everything was fresh and new and it was one of those times to do things from the beginning. She read the introduction, and then the several pages that described four different styles of Chinese cooking. She gradually started flipping through the recipes and recognized that the Szechwan style generally caught her eye more than many of the others. Her tummy rumbled as she read over lists of ingredients: garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger…
She looked at the clock. It was too late to go to the store and make one of these amazing dishes. But she just had to have some tonight! It almost seemed as if she wouldn’t be able to eat at all if it wasn’t some kind of Chinese food. She looked down at the book, then up at Mister, who was looking at his book. She moved her face closer…closer…finally he looked up.
“You want something?” he asked suspiciously.
“Just wondering when we have to leave for the concert…and thinking about dinner.”
“What were you thinking about it?”
Kate grinned. She knew it was silly, but she really wanted Chinese food. “Can we go out to a Chinese place beforehand?” she asked bluntly.
Mister glanced at her cookbook and chuckled. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
She nodded and bit the corner of her lower lip.
Mala Tong was a restaurant in Arlington, which was a new place for both of them, and had the distinction of being listed with the “100 best places to eat in DC”, with more stars and fewer dollar marks than any other Asian restaurant. Traffic was bad, and Kate had an uneasy feeling that they might end up stopping at any old Chinese joint and ordering takeout to eat on the balcony at the Kennedy Center. But they made it to the restaurant and had time to sit down and order. “And it’s a Szechwan restaurant!” Kate had exclaimed when they arrived. “This is exactly what I wanted!” Kate ordered a mess of pork and garlic sauce, and when it came…oh, the bliss! The sauce! The flavors! Kate and Mister were sitting at the bar, and Kate beamed at the large, unsmiling, gangster-looking barman opposite her. She took another bite and laughed.
“This is SO good!” she said to no one in particular.
But Mister laughed with her, sharing her joy.
The concert was grand, even though the romantic Chopin and rousing Dvorak were preceded by a modern composer that no one would have stayed for had he been later in the program. When Kate and Mister got home, late that night, she reheated what was left of her dinner and sat down in their kitchen. Taking a bite, she said, “Wow. Amazing! Even reheated!”
A couple weeks before, Mom Miller had taken Kate shopping at the H-Mart and had bought her a brand new, large, purple wok. This was especially convenient with all the company, because Kate didn’t have another pan that would hold enough for everyone. And for the week following the concert, the purple wok (though cooking only for two) became Kate’s new favorite kitchen appliance. It appeared every day on the stove for chicken chow mein, beef and corn, broccoli stir fry, and several other brand new dishes.
“I like it when you have cravings,” Mister said one evening. “You just go out and learn to make whatever it is you want. It’s so…brave! And a good deal for me.” He grinned and got up for more. 

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