Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Meetings

David drove down from Kamloops on Monday. The purpose of the trip was to introduce us to his new girlfriend. She was very nice, and the visit went well. But I do have to say, it can be an awkward thing, this "meeting of the boyfriend/girlfriend" for the the first time.

As the parent of five adult children I should be better at this than I am. I certainly have enough experience. The problem for me is never knowing if this is The One. There is the occasional dud. The one you hope doesn't end up in your family Christmas photos. And there is the opposite danger, which is that you might really like them, but your child decides they no longer do.

I met Jay's parents over Christmas break back in 1978. I remember having butterflies in my stomach as I boarded the CP Air flight from Spokane to Vancouver. This was back in the days when you were treated like a human being when you flew. The meal was served on real plates and the cutlery wasn't plastic. Those days are long gone, as is CP Air, but the memory of what it was like to travel back then lingers. Sort of like the smell of the cigarettes people were allowed to smoke on board back then, but in a better way.

Overall, things went well at that First Meeting. I was teased about my American accent. I was a good sport about it, even though I distinctly remember thinking they were the ones who had the accent. There was the Sunday roast dinner incident, which I think I've blogged about before, so forgive me if I'm repeating myself.

Jay's dad was from strong English stock. I was an American farm girl. When these two extremes sit down for a Sunday dinner there are bound to be a few differences. Jay's dad sat at the head of the table, carving knife in hand. The roast was placed in front of him, and it was oozing blood. He started carving pieces, and as he moved them over to the plates I realized they were so thin they were almost transparent. Then, after he had finished, he took a piece of bread and soaked up the blood, then ate it. I still shudder at the thought.

The next big moment happened when I asked for Ketchup. I just assumed someone had forgot to put it on the table. All I can say is I hope I had managed to hide the horror I felt over that blood/bread thing way better than Jay's dad did over me asking for Ketchup.

My final disgrace was in actually eating the roast. Of course, everyone was eating their roast. When I say I was eating mine, I mean I was digging in and consuming it with gusto. Proper English bites weren't on my radar. At one point Jay's dad commented in surprise, "And she's so little, too."

Contrast this with a typical Sunday roast on the farm. My mom would cut the well done roast in big hunks and set the platter on the table. Everyone would dig in, taking as much as they wanted. The Ketchup was front and centre for anyone who wanted it. In under fifteen minutes my brothers and I would have polished off the platter of beef and be onto dessert.

For now I will refrain from naming the girl or posting any pictures from Monday's visit. If this isn't The One I hate to leave an online record that the actual One could someday run across. Instead, I'll share the recipe for the dessert I served when they were here. It is out of the May 2014 issue of Canadian Living.

Orange Almond Flourless Snacking Cake

6 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch cinnamon
2 cups ground almonds
1 ½ tsp. baking powder (the recipe doesn't call for this, but it needs it)
2 tbsp. orange juice

Grease 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer beat together egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and cinnamon until butter-coloured and thick enough to form long ribbons that hold their shape for two seconds when beaters are lifted, about five minutes. (I ignored this and just mixed it until it looked right.) Fold in almonds and orange juice.

In separate bowl beat egg whites unit stiff peaks form. Stir ¼ of the whites into egg yolk mixture until combined. Fold in remaining egg whites. Scrape into prepared pan.

The recipe in the magazine said to bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. I baked mine at 325 F for about 50 minutes and it was perfect. Run a knife around edge as soon as you remove it from the oven, then let it sit for 10 minutes before removing the outer springform pan. The recipe calls for dusting it with icing sugar. I opted for whipped cream instead. No surprise there.


How about you? Have you had any awkward first meetings?


49 comments:

  1. Yes, this English Sunday roast can be a bit of an event. I do remember similar awkward moments when I first met Richards dad although I am fairly sure he did not mop up the blood. I remember mostly the bread and butter pudding, which I found a really strange thing to eat. We still have the dish Richard's dad used to make it in and we use it for the same purpose (I am acculturated to an extent)
    The first time I spent time with Richard's sister on my own (washing the dishes) she questioned me about my knowledge of English history, which was very poor indeed because English history does not play a major part in the Swiss school history curriculum. She must have been feeling as awkward as I did!
    I am not looking forward to the time when my children bring home their new partners, I can be a bit blunt and have a strange sense of humour. Thanks for this recipe, it looks lovely.

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    1. I think food can be one of the trickiest things when you are meeting new people. It's so easy to offend without actually meaning to. Bread and butter pudding would have seemed strange to me at that time, too. It's probably a good thing it wasn't served. And I would have failed a quiz about Canadian history at that point too.

      You'll be fine when your children start bringing home partners. Your strange sense of humour might be the thing that saves the day!

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  2. First meetings are always a bit fractious. I was invited for the weekend as John and I lived in different counties. He in Surrey and I in Essex. I bought a bunch of tulips for his mother and on our walk through the woods that night from the railway station to his house I carried them heads down as I had been told that the moisture from the cut stalks would run back to the flower heads and keep them moist. Well unbeknown to me at least 7 of those tulips managed to fall out of the bunch and all that remained were a mere 3 or 4 when I handed them to her at the front door. We both laughed and it definitely broke the ice!
    Your cake looks delicious and I'm going to bake it this weekend.
    Patricia x

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    1. That's a funny story about the tulips! You must have been horrified when you looked down and saw there were only a few left in the bunch. Enjoy the cake!

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  3. Hey Kristie,
    I have met a couple of Sam's girlfriends. I surprised myself with how formal I was! I always thought I'd be a cool boyfriend's Mum, but it turn out that I'm more like Ma Baker. (And don't let him know, but they were both complete howlers!!!)
    I first met Marc's Mum and Dad after a four hour train journey following a day at work. I was very nervous and made a reference to Jane Austen. I saw his Mum wink at him. I was mortified - but it turns out that that was a good sign. I should clarify that I don't usually reference 18th century novelists on a first meeting. I think it was the couple of drinks I'd had on the train beforehand.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Your howler comment gave me a good laugh! And no worries, I won't tell Sam. Jane Austen seems to have been just the right thing to talk about, even if it was an alcohol induced reference. Ha!

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  4. I think all of my first meetings are awkward, romantically-related or otherwise. I think my husband's parents are still a little underwhelmed, haha. I am sure the girl felt welcomed in your home, any of us would.

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    1. I can't imagine your husband's parents being underwhelmed with you, Jennifer. Never in a million years. In my opinion you would be an ideal daughter-in-law. :-)

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  5. Love it, your story made me smile. I can remember the first time Peter came to dinner, my Mum cooked fish and with it peas amongst other veggies, both pet hates of Peter's at the time. As you can imagine he picked it over with care due to his hatred of bones, to look up and find that we had all finished!! We are fast eaters in our family. I'm surprised he didn't get up and run away.

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    1. Oh no! He must have been horrified when he saw what was being served. My husband would have been the same way had he been given fish with bones. I'm sure you must be very glad he didn't get up and run away. :-)

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  6. I hope the best for the pairing of your child. It's sad when a family has to accept someone that isn't nice to your child. That cake looks yummy! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. That is the challenge of being the parent of grown children. You have no say in these things, you can only stay on the sidelines and watch, hoping they make good choices.

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  7. Kristie - when do you add the baking powder, ground almonds and orange juice? It sounds a really nice cake.
    Be assured, not everyone in the UK likes undercooked meat, or the thinnest of thin slices. I can't stand meat that looks as if it's come straight from the abbatoir. And steak has to be at the very least medium-to-well done (not cremated, but...) But I will say that ketchup isn't on the table for meals other than fish and chips or sausages, or perhaps at breakfast with a fry-up. I had friends from Florida staying years ago, and took them to a very smart restaurant, and one of the menfolk asked for ketchup and got a very 'down the nose' look from the waiter (I could have crawled under the table, as the chef, a very good one, was the partner of my cousin!) Not customary over here, I'm afraid - but we do have it in the house, as my better half always has it on chips!!
    Do you hope that this lass might be The One - or are you reserving judgement for a bit?
    (Julia xx)

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    1. Oops! Thanks for letting me know I left out the part about the ground almonds and orange juice. They go in right after you beat the egg yolks and sugar for five minutes. I've edited the post.

      That "down the nose" look from the waiter was probably very similar to the one I got from my future father-in-law. :-)

      I'm reserving judgment. At least for now.

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  8. I just subscribed to Canadian Living, so I will have to check out that recipe! :) Funny you should write about first meetings.. I just had one the other day! (and it went well) :)

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    1. Now I'm curious. Who was involved in this first meeting? You can't leave me hanging like that!

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    3. Oops! Sorry about that. No way to edit, so I had to delete. Anyhooo... it was our eldest who introduced us to his girlfriend on Sunday.

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    4. Interesting! Thanks for letting me know. :-)

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  9. Two of my sons each had a girl friend I really liked, but I knew would not be a good match for them. They eventually saw this for themselves so are no longer acquainted with them. I actually miss them and continued to have contact with them for a while! One of the sons is married now to a lovely girl I get along with nicely, but the other I've asked not to bring anybody home please until he's absolutely sure she's the one. I can't take any more break-ups!

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    1. It's a strange thing, isn't it? When they break up it leaves us in a very awkward position. I'm glad you were able to stay in contact with those girls. It doesn't usually work out that way. I'm glad you have a lovely daughter-in-law. I have been very fortunate in that department as well. :-)

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  10. I'm glad that the first trip with David's new girl friend went down well. I find it quite hard when you get quite fond of their girlfriends and then they become ex's. I loved your story of meeting Jay's parents. My Mum used to eat blood and bread from a roast yuck(!) I have never seen ketchup and roast! My David bought one of his girl friend's home for a meal the first time we met her, and I produced pizza with salad leaves picked from the garden. She ended up with a snail on her plate too!
    Sarah x

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    1. What a great story! I hope she was a good sport about it. Actually, you could probably tell a lot about what kind of person she was by how she reacted to that snail on her plate. As for the blood and bread thing, I might be wrong, but I think it is largely a British tradition. Other than my father-in-law, I haven't seen anyone else do that here in Canada since then.

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  11. It is funny, I never gave much thought to what it must be like as the parent meeting the partners of your children! Potentially fraught with all kinds of difficulties in different ways! I am sure that you did really well and I hope that you did get to meet "the one"!! xx

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    1. Time will tell, Amy. It must be serious if he wanted to drive three hours over a mountain pass to introduce her to us. But I have long since learned there is a big difference between serious and the real thing. :-)

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  12. The first time I met my future father in law I got him kicked out of a bar. He didn't know I was only 18 (drinking age is 21 in WA) and immediately accepted the invitation to wait in the bar until our restaurant table became available. I only ordered club soda! It got better, mostly ;o)

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    1. The good news is there are many worse reasons you all could have been kicked out of a bar. Having an underage club soda wasn't as bad as, say, a drunken brawl. :-)

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  13. I look forward to trying the recipe, it looks lovely so thank you for the post.

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    1. You're welcome, Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy the cake!

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  14. I love this post and loved reading about your first family dinner with your husband's family. I remember my first meeting too, it was not pretty. I feel the same about my boys when they bring a girl home. They are young still so I am not sure if The One has arrived yet. I don't want to get too attached if something should go wrong.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. That attachment thing is a real danger, all the way around. We don't want them to get attached to people we don't think are right for them, and we don't want to get attached to people they end up thinking aren't the right one. It's all very complicated.

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  15. I love this post--and I'm sure I would similarly enjoy the cake. It looks great.

    No ketchup??? And you still married into that family? :) I'm actually a little apalled by how much ketchup my family uses compared to "when I was a kid". But that's only a question of amount, not its use. As for the blood, I could understand doing that if the roast was more "done" (and it wasn't blood). But I'm shuddering at the thought too. Oh well, slight cultural differences aside, I know that all parties involved came out winners. You and Jay both "married well".

    Now I want to do a post about meeting my in-laws (if I haven't already). It was a little boring. They took to me right off the bat, which made me very suspicious of them. lol

    PS - Based on my experience, I'm the only person who has absolutely no accent whatsoever. But I imagine there's a lot of that going around. :)

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    1. I don't have any proof to back this up, but I'm fairly certain Americans consume more ketchup than all other nations combined. A few years ago I switched from the Brand I Loved Most, to one that doesn't use corn syrup as a sweetener. The upside to this, or downside depending on one's view, is that I now use a lot less ketchup.

      I can't wait to read your post about meeting your in-laws.:-)

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    2. Growing up, my parents bought the standard little bottle of ketchup and it lasted our family a month. My wife and I get the 55 gallon drum-sized bottles and they disappear in no time. My son does wash a crazy amount of it down the drain after dinner (I think we've corrected that now), but I still can't believe how much we use. And by we I mean them--I avoid it because of the corn syrup. May I ask which brand you now use so little of? Or do you think I would be better off without it?

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  16. Also, when my folks had a roast on Sunday it was sliced pretty thin. It was usually served on a slice of bread, sometimes with gravy. I always skipped the gravy. Looking back, it would have made sense to fold it over and pick it up (like a sandwich), but we didn't. We used a knife and fork, as if it was a steak. :)

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    1. I've been giving more thought to the great big chunks of beef we were served and now wonder if it was simply because my mom didn't have a single sharp knife in her kitchen. She was famous for her dull knives. Even my mom's scissors were dull. Ha!

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    2. haha, oh no, dull scissors! I hope they weren't used ot give haircuts. My head hurts at the thought. About the thin beef, there were 5 kids still living at home then. Once a few more moved out the portions got bigger. :)

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  17. Oh Kristie, what a great story about meeting the folks. I think Australias must fall somewhere between Canadians and Americans in the eating style, as we have noticed both the differences you mention. Yes, meeting the prospective in-laws can be tricky, and we always worry the prospective one will reject us! Snacking cake looks good! Happy EAster!

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    1. So do Australians consume a lot of ketchup, Patricia? I would guess you would have the same British influences that Canada does. Happy Easter to you!

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  18. It sounds like a wise decision to avoid commentary or photos of the latest first meeting. You do tell a good story, though!

    -Karen

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    1. There was another first meeting her a few months ago that also went unrecorded, with a different child I should add. I think it is going to be an interesting year. :-)

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  19. This post made me chuckle, Kristie. DH always slices roast meat very thinly too, though it's never ooozing blood in this house. Helva's right that you'll find ketchup in most British homes, but only on the table for certain meals such as fish and chips.

    Our two have been well and truly married for years now, so the meeting bit is long in the past. Actually it happened very rarely, as they were both living away from home and didn't usually bring friends home on their infrequent visits until they each met The One.

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    1. It's funny, but when I eat fish and chips I like vinegar instead of ketchup. I just can't get it right! :-)

      It's nice once they are all settled in with The One, especially if they have chosen partners we like. I have been very fortunate in this area, at least so far!

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    2. Oh, so do I, Kristie, but my husband and grandsons always want ketchup too, or brown sauce. :-)

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  20. Loved the story of your meeting Jay's parents! My daughter-in-law has always fit right in with our family, but my daughter is still single and there are no awkward meetings on the horizon, but there sure was one a few years ago. Was glad he turned out not to be The One!

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    1. I'm glad you have a lovely daughter-in-law. I'm also glad you didn't end up with a dud son-in-law!

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  21. My youngest would do well on your side of the pond ... he's a ketchup with everything guy. I on the other hand never eat it. But I've also never seen or known of anyone doing what you describe with the blood and bread. It's certainly not a British custom generally, in fact mopping your plate with bread when you have guests would probably be thought bad manners in quite a lot of British homes.

    The grown up kids partners thing ... been there ! One girlfriend turned out to have a full blown personality disorder, fortunately she didn't stick, although she did stalk us all for an entire year! And I was convinced one boyfriend had an alcohol problem. And yes, another ex boyfriend is still very much missed here. Luckily the older three have all now found lovely people to spend their lives with, though not a one of them is married. My daughter-in-love is a total gem, and the two lads are all round good eggs, just the younger son to pair off now!

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    1. Just realised that reply is probably rather confusing to anyone who doesn't know I have two sons and two daughters.

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