City Lounge: Paris (Book Two, Chapter Seven: Cooking Therapy)

Chapter Seven: Cooking Therapy:

Over the past few days, I have been learning how to cook the French way. It’s actually helped me get over Paula, really. (I don’t know what to do fully make of the Simone situation, but that’s not the focus today.) I have come to enjoy shopping in the markets. I was missing out on this? Plus, I am saving money too? Sweet!

I started off with that fruit salad.

“You do know all of the basics of cooking with fruit, right?” Simone asked.

“Of course,” I said. “Don’t you have to wash it, peel it, and all that?”

“Yes,” she said. “But there is a way to do it.”

“There is?”

“Yes, you can’t be too rough with fruit and vegetables or they will bruise. Here, let me show you.” Simone walked over to my sink. She put all of the fruit in the sink and turned on the water.

“Brush, please?” she asked. I looked around the kitchen before I walked over to the drawer.

“Thank you,” Simone said when I handed it to her. She picked up an apple and held the bristles under the water. “You have to be firm, but gentle when you wash your fruits and vegetables.” I watched her wash the first apple. It looked easy enough. I mean, I have washed fruit before.

“How I about I do that while you cut up the fruit and cepes?” I offered. Simone looked up at me with pleasant look on her face.

“Okay,” she said. Simone handed me the brush and I got to work. It didn’t take me long to fall into the rhythm. When I was done, I came over to Simone as she was cutting up the fruit. Her hands looked so delicate as she chopped up the second pear.

“You have to take your time with cutting the fruit,” she said. “Otherwise, you will have an uneasy mess to work with.”

“I see,” I said.

“Where do you keep the shiv?” Simone asked.

“Hang on,” I said. I walked over to the sink and opened the cabinet.

“Thank you,” she said when I handed it to her. Simone’s hands made magic out of the fruit and mushrooms.

“You’re really going to put mushrooms in a fruit salad?” I asked when she added in cerpe.

“Why not?” the Indigo queen asked. “It might taste great.” I nodded with unease. Turns out, the fruit salad actually tasted great. I didn’t expect the cerpe to add a strange flavor to it. One that I couldn’t explain. Simone eyed me as I ate.

“Well,” she said. “How is it?” I turned to her with a huge grin on my face.

“This is great!” he said.

“Even the cerpe?” she asked.

“Yes.”

Simone rubbed me on the arm. “Told you it was good.”

“Yeah…” I set down my fork. “Could I have the recipe for this?”

“Sure,” my Indigo Queen said. I began my cooking lessons on the weekends. Simone and Marie took turns teaching me simple dishes. I wasn’t ready for the “hard” stuff yet. Strangely enough, cooking seemed to be therapeutic. When I was chopping up vegetables, fruits, diary, and meat, I felt calmer. The more I cooked, the less I thought about Paula when I was alone. Simone would give me tips on how to improve.

“Hold down the vegetables when you cut so you don’t squish them with the knife,” she told me one day.

“Got it,” I said. I think I drew eyes of my coworkers when I would bring in my lunch to work.

“That looks so good,” they would tell me. “Who made it?”

“Me,” I said.

“Get out!”

“You’re lying!”

“You sure a girl didn’t make it for you.”

I would smile and shake my head. “No, I made it myself. I have been learning how to cook lately.” Paula wrinkled her nose and raised an eyebrow.

“Since when?” she asked. I turned to her with a grin on my face.

“I had to do something to get over you,” I said. I noticed the strange look on her face. “What? Did you think I was going to waste my time crying over you?” I leaned forward.

“The market in my neighborhood is great!” I said. “You should’ve taken us there when we were together. They have so many great things there.” I took a bite into my boursin-stuffed chicken.

“Delicious!” I said. I’m still not good with crepes, though. They either end up burnt or too thick and doughy. Simone laughs at my attempts.

“Don’t worry,” she told me. “They take time to get right. I still can’t do them right myself.” I looked at her with wide eyes.

“You’re not good at making crepes?” I asked.

“No, unfortunately,” she said. “Mama makes them better than I ever can.” She had a twinkle of nostalgia in her eyes.

“You’re really close to your mother, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yes,” Simone said. “She taught us all how to cook.” She brought into laughter. “Charlotte’s too lazy and would rather be eating instead of cooking.”

“I can see that,” I said. The timer buzzed.

“Ah, the chicken’s ready,” I said. I turned off my stove and lifted the pot lid. Simone embraced me from behind.

“I am going to show you how to cook without the timer,” she purred in my ear. I tried to stay focused.

“But I can’t really trust myself too well,” I said.

“You’re going to have to learn how to sooner or later.” Why must she sound so persuasive? I don’t know how to win against her.

“I guess I could try,” I said. I cut a small piece of chicken and held it up to her mouth. “Care to try this?” Simone opened her mouth and took a bite.

“How is it?” I asked. The Indigo Queen smiled as she chewed on the meat.

“This is really juicy and I taste the flavors from the wine sauce,” she said. “You’ve really improved.” To hear her say that was rewarding enough. I think I’m onto something here. If I could have done this years ago, maybe Paula wouldn’t have cheated on me.

I shook my head.

Let it go, already. There was nothing you could’ve down to savage that relationship. Paula made her choice and you’re supposed to be moving on. Get it together man!

“Is something wrong?” Simone asked. I looked down to see her staring into my eyes. I smiled and shook my head.

“Nothing,” I said. “I think dinner’s just about ready. You sit down and I’ll get the potatoes.” Simone kissed me on the cheek.

“Okay,” she said. My mood lightened as she waltzed over to the table. I smiled as I took out the chicken. I took the roasted potatoes out the oven.

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