Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eating Glue

Some couples connect through shared hobbies, others through shared histories from school or work. My husband and I have always connected over food. I know people who can sit and watch a movie together when they've been busy and missing each other, and it's enough. Others need a weekend away together. My husband and I just need to go out for a good meal.

I realized a few weeks ago that it had been far too long since we'd done this.

The signs were all there: I was cranky and nitpicky; he was distant and overworked. We missed each other, but every time we were together, it was to heap to-do lists on each other, vent our day's frustrations or argue about these things. How can you communicate when you can barely exhale in each other's presence?

This usually happens in the spring. The kids are overloaded with after-school activities, tax season is looming and we're all moving at a frenetic pace just trying to keep up. Fortunately, spring is also when our birthdays and--more importantly--Hudson Valley Restaurant Week roll around.

No matter how busy we are, my husband and I always make time to go out for at least one meal during HVRW. We pick a restaurant we've wanted to try but perhaps isn't particularly kid-friendly, or even one that  looks good but is otherwise geographically undesirable. This year, we chose X20 Xaviers on the Hudson, a restaurant in Yonkers that was all three. The goal each year is to use HVRW as an incentive to get there and get there *alone*.

The waterfront in Yonkers has been undergoing a transformation, with the experts' hopes that it will revitalize an otherwise troubled city. The neighborhood is not one we'd want to travel through at night, but the restaurant and its food are equally breathtaking and worth the trip. Lunch seemed the perfect option.

We drove down during the day while the kids were at school. We met the owner and chef. We talked with him about the fact that his family and my mom's family had grown up together in Yonkers. We got a table by the window and took multiple pictures of the view from the restaurant. I made copious notes in my book on each dish. We talked about the food, our kids, our jobs, other diners, the neighborhood, our own childhoods and friends we haven't seen for a while. We shared bites from each course, we laughed, we reconnected. It was fabulous.

While I sometimes wish that we were one of those couples who like to go biking or skiing together, I think that even those things can sometimes get pushed aside when life gets crazy. But we all have to eat, no matter what else is going on. Good food is the glue in our relationship because it's not really about eating. That's just the beginning. Sharing a good meal together works, for us, like a dash of salt: when it's added it brings out all the other flavors of our life together through conversation and laughter. And it reminds us why eating together is so important: it nourishes not just our bodies but our hearts and souls.