Kitchen Chronicles is a weekly series by Barbara Sibbald, a novelist and award-winning journalist and long-time contributor to Ottawa Magazine. Visit Kitchen Chronicles every Sunday for a new instalment — and a tested recipe.
— I’m parched. You got any beer? asks Georges.
— Corona coming up, says Luc, opening the fridge. That hike was about five kilometres too long.
— Yeah, the kilometres where we were going straight up!
— Luc laughs and pats his stomach. It’ll keep us in shape for the ladies, he says.
— Hey, where’s Fee?
Luc opens the beer and hands one to Georges.
— She and Gavin went to some used book sale. The kid likes reading, he says, covering his pride. Go figure. At his age we were spraying graffiti on highway signs and trying to lure Michelle Parent into the park.
— It’s a subversive feminist plot, says Georges. You better rescue him from the dark side before it’s too late!
— Do you want some chicken curry*?
— That’d be great.
— Speaking of female wiles, says Luc, how are things going with Giselle?
— Nothing’s changed, says Georges, noticeably deflating. I’m still trying to figure out how to spend more time with her. You wouldn’t believe her in the sack.
Luc makes an effort to stay calm. Georges doesn’t like being told what to do. I have to play my cards carefully, he thinks.
— And Anne? Luc asks.
— We’ve been together for years. It’s predictable. Hung up on history. We go to bed and read. You know how it is.
— Actually, I don’t. Fee and I still have a great sex life. Knock on wood.
— Lucky you. Most couples fall into a rut. And it’s all so darn familiar. Don’t get me wrong, Anne’s great; it’s not her per se.
— Do you think she’s suspicious?
Georges pauses for a second.
— It’s hard to say. I thought she was asking a lot of questions when I said I was working late last week.
— That’s why I wanted you to cover for me, like any decent buddy would, he adds.
— Tu as des bébites dans la tête.** I’m not lying to Fee, Luc says. We’ve already gone over this. One thing’s for sure, Anne’s no dummy. You’re taking a huge gamble, my friend. If she finds out, she may leave.
— Nah, she wouldn’t do that.
— Do you know for sure? Hell hath no fury, you know.
— And she’ll take half of everything: the house, the boat, the cars, the cottage.
— You don’t have to tell me, says Georges, I make my living off that sort of misery.
— So, I guess the question is, do you want to leave Anne and go to Giselle? For the sex.
— Well, it is pretty good.
— How old is she anyway?
— Are you nuts! Twenty-four! What the hell do you talk about? Video games?
— She’s smart enough. She’s got a BA. Besides, who needs talk!
He winks at Luc.
— All right, all right. I get it. The sex is amazing. So you’ll throw everything away for sex?
— What do you think I should do?
— Break with Giselle and be more attentive to Anne. I mean she’s a wonderful woman, Georges. Smart, a fabulous cook, a great family doc. And she dotes on you, even after all these years. God knows why!
— Yeah, I sometimes wonder why myself. I don’t treat her very well. I can’t even remember the last time I took her out for a meal or anything. I’m a bad husband.
— Before you start wailing and banging your head on the linoleum, put yourself in her size sevens for a minute. This affair would destroy her. Sure she has a career and all, but don’t forget, I’ve been a witness to your marriage from the start. You’re her rock, her foundation. Her life revolves around your relationship; your problems are her problems. Remember how she slaved when you moved your office last year? Redecorating that dump, scouring the bathroom. And she never complains when you work late, always has a delicious meal waiting for you. She’s understanding and patient.
— Oh, the guilt. Stop! Stop! I know you’re right. But then a part of me….
— Yeah, well, you’re thinking with your little head, Georges. You’ve had a good run with Giselle. It’s time.
Georges takes a long draw on his beer.
— Let’s look at the scenarios, continues Luc. Say Anne finds out and you split up. What kind of wife would Giselle make? And would she still be with you two years from now when the lust wears off. She’ll probably want kids and I know you don’t. And that’s just for starters.
— Being realistic, Georges pauses, there’s probably a fifty-fifty chance we’d stay together. I’ve seen this before. She is young and we’ve never talked about kids — we don’t talk much period — but she probably wants them.
— Exactly. And then where would you be? No Anne. No Giselle.
— I’d be an eligible bachelor. How bad would that be?
Luc shakes his head.
— Georges, get real. At the end of the day, you’d come home to an untidy empty condo. No one to have dinner with, no one to talk to. How would you spend your holidays? At a Club Med? You’d be lonely. You know you would. I would be.
— Okay, okay. Man, you’ve got all the answers this afternoon. I’ll think about calling it off with Giselle. I don’t know how, she’ll go ballistic.
— You can’t rush these things. I’ll choose the time. I don’t want to hurt her more than I have to.
Luc congratulates himself for playing it right. No ultimatums. Georges will just do it.
— I know it’ll be tough, says Luc, but keep in mind that Anne’s bound to figure it out if you don’t do something.
— I shouldn’t have married such a smart woman, says Georges. I’ll pay more attention to her. Distract her. Maybe buy her some lingerie.
— Nice one, says Luc sarcastically. We all know who the lingerie is for. It really is all about you, isn’t it?
— Of course, says Georges, as a sly grin slips across his mug.
*Cheater’s chicken curry
A great way to use up leftover roast chicken (or one of those convenient store-bought rotisserie chickens).
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons Madras (or mild) curry paste (I use Patak’s)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks (if you use raw, sear to seal before adding tomato)
2 cups chopped tomato (canned is fine; drain juice)
½ cup raisins or currants
1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks
Fresh coriander, washed and minced
Basmati rice for 4 people (1 cup uncooked)
1. Sauté onion and garlic in oil.
2. Stir in curry paste and cooked chicken.
3. Add tomato and raisins. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add apple and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. Top with fresh chopped coriander and serve over basmati rice.
6. Serve with a green vegetable; green beans are nice.