how to turn your husband into a master chef

Juan has been mentioning polenta for months now, in fact it started a few months before we left Stockholm! Poor guy, it’s just not in my repertoire and I haven’t had the time or energy lately to do proper research into making a dish. I think he even bought a package on one of our first grocery store trips when we moved to Lyon, but there the package has sat, in our cupboard until tonight.

Things weren’t looking good for him unfortunately. It was 8:45pm and I was on the couch reading. I had two yogurt containers in front of me and a few orange peels. (Hey, I’m eight months pregnant, I gotta eat when I am hungry!) Juan came into the living room with a bag of chips, a beer and a sorry look on his face. He really should have been born a northern European as his body really likes eating early, hearty dinners whereas I prefer to only start thinking about dinner at about 9pm. Weird, we know!

After the majority of the chips were consumed he left to go scrounge for himself. You see, I hadn’t moved from the couch and had just let him in on my idea of dinner – the one package of non-MSG noodles we had left. He was bummed. I offered to make a salad, I’m not that mean. 😉

After a few minutes he announced, with a certain vigor in his voice, that he was making dinner! I walked inside the kitchen and there it was, the bag of polenta. It was known to occasionally make its way out of the cupboard onto the table as a silent hint as to what I should be cooking for my darling husband, who loved me forever and ever. But no, tonight Juan was going to tackle the beast himself and get rid of his ‘gusanito.’

I watched the scene play out from the bedroom as I got changed into my pjs. (back to the whole pregnant thing, it’s not as easy as it once was!) Juan was not alone in his quest, he had his faithful hound:

She usually shows up when Juan and cheese make an appearance together – lucky for her this is a lot more frequent in France.

Juan decided to make a recipe on the back of the polenta package ‘Polenta à la Quatres Fromages.’ I have to hand it to him, it was probably the one which required the most skill and time. Unfortunately it was the only one which could be semi-assembled with the mish mash of ingredients we had in our fridge.

I knew that not everything was going smooth when Juan walked past me, still determined but with a slight worry in his eye, and came back with our trusty French dictionary.  You see, sometimes food companies use package recipes as marketing. In the store the shopping aisles are crowded and you only have  a few seconds to quickly scan the recipe. It’s easy to think, “Yeah, I can do that!”, but when it comes to actually following the instructions, in a third un-mastered language nonetheless, the recipe leaves you feeling like you are stuck in a rowboat in the middle of the sea with only a wooden spoon in your hand. I’m proud to say that my husband persevered! With the polenta cooked evenly and the raclette cheese finely grated the last step was a full hour’s bake in the oven. I am not sure how much time it took from start to finish, but I think in the end it paid off. The polenta looked and smelled delicious. Hat’s off to the chef!


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