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.
A question of lying
Luc slides the sweet potatoes into the oven and takes the pork tenderloin* out of the fridge so it can warm up a bit before cooking. I’ve really done it this time, he thinks to himself. I should have just kept my mouth shut. If Fee tells Anne, then Georges will blame me one-hundred percent. Even though he’s the one who’s having the affair. What an idiot. We’re both idiots.
Fiona glances up from her Garden Making magazine and raises her eyebrows. Was I talking aloud? he wonders. He sits across the table from her.
— Georges told me about it at pool on Tuesday. I’ve never seen him so upset: the guilt of cheating on Anne, short-changing both women. Plus all the lying and sneaking around. He was totally stressed.
Luc pauses, then catches Fiona’s eye.
— He wanted me to be his Tuesday alibi so he could spend more time with her.
— What! exclaims Fiona. You’ve got to be kidding. Some friend. He wants you to lie for him so he can cheat on his wife. Ethical conundrum? I think not!
— I know. I told him I wouldn’t do it.
— Yet you want me to lie to Anne.
— That’s different, Fee. It’s not lying, it’s just not saying anything. Omission instead of commission. I mean with the pool thing, I’d actually have to pretend we’d been together. Il charrie!** And you’d have to be in on it too. I told him it was too complicated. Too many lies.
— I bet he was pleased.
— Actually, he didn’t seem surprised. I think even he knew it was a half-baked sleazy scheme.
— So what’s he going to do now?
— I’m not sure. He’s raving about the sex.
— No details, Luc! I always knew he was the type.
— The type?
— To have an affair. He’s a little too flirtatious. Too flattering, you know. Plus he’s handsome. And successful. And a bit messed up. I figured he would sooner or later. Anne knows too. She’s always on the outlook. She’s no fool.
— That’s for sure. What do you think she’d do if she found out?
— You mean when she finds out. She will. I’m surprised she hasn’t already.
— And what would you do? asks Luc.
She looks at him. Would he? she wonders. No. He’s not the type. That’s one of the reasons she chose him in the first place. He’s loyal and communicative. Transparent even. She always knows how he’s feeling and, even if that isn’t always pleasant, at least she knows where she stands. That makes her feel secure.
— It would depend, she says. If you’d been fooling around for a long time, I’d probably end the marriage. But if it was a one-off or only happened a few times, before you had an emotional connection…. Well, I think we could sort that out. With counselling. But the lying would be hard to deal with. How could I trust you again?
— Not that I would, says Luc, grinning.
— Of course not! she says, smiling back at him.
— And what about Anne? he asks. What do you think she would do?
— I’m really not sure. He’s obviously got a connection with this woman. Anne knows he’s an ass sometimes, but she adores him. When she was younger, she was one of those women whose life mission is to be loved. I don’t think that’s the case now.
— Are you?
— No. Not in that desperate way you see so often in young women, women in their twenties and thirties. Georges’ girlfriend is probably that age. I have to think it’s that desperation that allows women to continue with affairs. The initial lust, okay. But when that wears off, they’ve got to know he’s a schmuck. Why else would he cheat in the first place? And who’s to say he won’t cheat on them eventually. Anyway, let’s get back on topic. What am I supposed to do about Anne?
— Can you stay quiet about it, Fee? For me.
— I won’t lie, she says. If Anne asks me, I’ll tell her what I know.
— But you said yourself she’s bound to suspect something. Probably soon.
— Okay, here’s an alternative that will take both of us out of this bind. Tell Georges that he has to fess up to Anne or quit the affair.
— Why would he do that? He’s having his cake and his whipped cream on the side. He’s got nothing to lose.
— Unless he gets caught. Then he could lose Anne. Plus a lot of dough: half the house, half of everything. And you know how he loves his toys.
— Maybe I should tell him that I think Anne suspects he’s fooling around, says Luc. Or I could tell him that you think Anne’s suspicious.
— But then I’d be in on that lie!
— Okay, I’ll tell him that I think Anne suspects something. It’s a white lie, because given what you’ve said, she probably does.
— So he better tell her before she figures it out, concludes Fiona.
— He’s not going to thank me for giving him an ultimatum, says Luc.
— That’s okay. He’ll get over it. He may even thank you for it someday.
— You think?
— Not a chance! Fiona says.
*Fiona’s pork tenderloin
Serves 4 to 6
2 pork tenderloins
½ cup liquid honey
juice from ½ a lemon
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons cooking sherry
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, washed and chopped
- Melt honey in a small saucepan. Add all the other ingredients except the meat. Remove from heat.
- Remove fat and white membrane from the tenderloins. Lightly score the flesh with a sharp knife half a dozen times on each side.
- Place in a baking dish. Cover with marinade. Leave in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight, turning several times.
- Broil or BBQ until the pork is pink but not bloody (don’t overcook).
- Slice and serve with sweet potato Anna (or fries) and coleslaw or salad.
**To be exploited.