Sunday, August 12, 2007


Once upon a time, when a prospective bride and groom announced their engagement, friends of the families would arrange a Bridal Shower at which guests would “shower” the soon-to-be bride with household-related gifts. In like wise, when said bride eventually began displaying evidence of being with child, friends would arrange a Baby Shower at which guests would “shower” the soon-to-be mother with baby-related gifts.

Without exception, back in the day, these Showers were uniformly female-only occasions. With bizarre “girls-only” discussions and mysterious Party Games, the institution of the Shower was completely opaque and unknown to those of the hairier sex. Except for the Golden Shower, which we shall not discuss here.

In the early 1980’s, cracks began appearing in the dam. One of our neighbors was expecting a child, and, as was part of the normal Course of Events, a Baby Shower was arranged. But this was a Baby Shower with a Difference...because husbands were invited.

At that Baby Shower, I remember having the same kind of feeling that I would associate with going into a restroom and finding a sofa. Or, even worse, a Sanitary Napkin Receptacle. It was a feeling of not quite belonging, of treading on foreign turf. Fortunately, I was not alone: there were other husbands there with whom I could share these feelings of alienness. Not aloud, of course, for that would be Unmanly. But we all knew what the score was.

It’s a quarter-century later, and coed Gift Showers are probably the rule rather than the exception nowadays. Yesterday, we co-hosted one for the son and future daughter-in-law of some old friends, friends that we had met on our first tour of duty in Atlanta in the early 1980’s.

There was food a-plenty, what with a whole army of people contributing entrées, salads, appetizers, and desserts. One of the appetizers consisted of a wheel of Brie that had been shaved, buried in apricot preserves, and baked until it had been reduced to a mound of bubbling Brie-Lava. Hoo, boy, was that tasty. Fulla cholesterol, too.

She Who Must Be Obeyed prepared a pile of Garlic-Roasted Red Potatoes that were a big hit. Meanwhile I put together some horseradish sauce (to accompany two whole beef tenderloins prepared by other co-hosts) and a mess of Poached Salmon.

Poached Salmon
Poached Salmon Elisson.

Poached Salmon is a perfect summer dish, as it can be served cold. Here’s how I made it:

Poached Salmon Elisson

Salmon fillet
Bottle dry white wine
10 whole peppercorns
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 yellow onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
5-10 parsley stems (flat-leaf parsley preferred)
2-3 springs fresh dill

Chop the onion, carrots, and celery stalks coarsely and put in a fish poacher or non-reactive pan big enough to hold the fish. Add the garlic, bay leaf, parsley stems, dill, and peppercorns. Dump in a bottle of dry white wine. (It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should be a wine that’s good enough to drink!) Add water, enough so that the fish will be covered when you put it in, but not enough to overflow the vessel.

Put the poacher (or pan) on high heat until the contents are ready to boil; lower the heat and let everything simmer for about 30-45 minutes. You’ve made a court-bouillon - and now you’re ready to poach your fish.

Using the fish-poacher rack (or a couple of spatulas, if you’re using a regular pan), lower the fish into the simmering liquid. You should have enough liquid to cover most or all of the fish. Let the fish simmer about 10 minutes, then check for doneness. You want your fish to be just cooked through; you’re not trying to boil the crap out of it.

When it’s done, carefully take the fish out of the simmering liquid without scalding the shit out of your hands. Let cool.

Poached salmon may be served hot or cold. I prefer it cold. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly-ground black pepper and some chopped fresh dill. If you like, you can serve the fish with a sauce made from chopped dill and plain Greek yogurt.

It’s tasty...tasty enough to take your mind off the fact that you’re a guy attending a Bridal Shower. Oy!

Later, as the presents were opened, SWMBO acted as Recording Secretary, jotting down the names of donors and what they had given. (It’s a lot easier to write thank-you notes when you know who gave what.) And she made what I thought was an excellent suggestion: for all of the guests to write in the Shower Book their advice for a happy marriage.

The advice SWMBO wrote down has stood us in good stead for over thirty years of married life: “Never go to bed angry at one another.” It’s advice that she, in turn, received from my Aunt Marge. And it must have been good, because Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

Mine? “Never eat anything bigger than your head.”

Hey, it works for me.

No comments: