Appetite for Love
Surprising food encounters had these ladies smitten.
Mary Luz Mejia, Toronto
When I started dating Mario, he told me he could make a killer lemon cream chicken with pasta. He promised to cook up his signature dish for our first Big, Romantic Night. When dinner was served, I closed my eyes and inhaled the aromas of fresh lemon, zest and spices. But then I looked down, only to see a curdled mess of sauce swimming in my plate. I dug right in anyway and praised that meal to the moon, because this man had cared enough to pour a whole lot of TLC into those split sauce-logged chicken pieces. That dinner bonded us as partners; since then we’ve been together eight years and dined everywhere from Montreal to Mexico.
Mira Lambert, Montreal
We met on a fishing boat Vietnam. A week later Philippe turned up on my doorstep in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where I was living and working as an international aid worker, far from my native Australia. We were inseparable over the next few weeks, but I wasn’t sure if he was the one. When he offered to make lunch one day and asked where to get ingredients, I told myself if he could find Huyen, my favourite vendor in the crazy maze that is the local market, then I’d know. I gave him directions and left for work. When I returned, he served me succulent pork medallions, sautéed mustard greens and baby carrots bathed in honey and ginger. On my kitchen bench lay a bouquet of mixed oriental herbs, with Huyen’s signature red chili tucked in the middle.
Annemarie Corrigan, Vancouver
In 1997, we stepped out of the swirling mists of Kinsale, Southern Ireland, where I then lived, into an ancient restaurant called The Little Skillet for our second meal in ten years. The first was in Florence. Howard and I met on a train out of Marseilles and ended up hours and hours later on a trattoria in Florence – ravenous. Over the primi and secondi piatti we sang obscure Led Zeppelin lyrics to each other and felt a connection. After sleeping huddled in the doorway of the Gucci shop (long story), the next day we said “arrivederci” and promised to write. We never quite got around to it. I had just broken of a disastrous engagement when Howard called me a decade later. He happened to be in Ireland. There were nine Corrigans in the phone book; the first phone number he tried was my parents’. We arranged to meet in Kinsale and have been together since.
Dana McCauley, Toronto
Martin was the executive chef at Pangaea restaurant when he hired me as the entremettier (salad girl). During my first week, I was struggling with a ridiculously architectural salad and falling woefully behind. Martin came back to my station, took one look, tossed my salad out and made a new one in seconds. Then he left. I was far more shattered than if he had yelled that it was a disaster, and I went outside for a little cry. A few years later, I had a new job, but we often bumped into each other at food events, and we ended up together. Ironically, working with Martin – seeing how calmly he treated people and how committed he was to quality – meant I started dating him knowing that he would always be honest with me, without ever being cruel or vindictive.