Gail Simmons, food writer and judge of Bravo’s Top Chef, recently shared her proposal story in the publicity for her new book “Talking With My Mouth Full.” Thanks to Gail, and to Glamour Magazine for the excerpt. Enjoy!
My parents have been married for more than 45 years. So you can imagine how overjoyed they were when Jeremy eventually proposed.
One of Jeremy’s and my favorite neighborhood restaurants in August 2007 was, appropriately enough, called August and was located around the corner from our apartment.
The chef at the time was a young guy named Tony Liu. In the tiny universe that is the culinary world, he’d worked for Daniel Boulud just before I was there, and then for Mario Batali at Babbo.
We ate dinner at August on occasion, but it was their weekend brunch that we especially loved. Jeremy and I would sit in the glassed-in courtyard and linger over coffee on lazy Saturdays, eating whatever creation Tony and his wood-fired oven would dream up for us. There was always some sort of baked eggs with chorizo, or basil and fresh tomato sauce, fluffy German pancakes with black currants, delicate gravlax with soft scrambled eggs and dill. Tony would make golden hash browns the size of hockey pucks that would sit up in the window of the kitchen, and it was all I could do not to grab them as I was walking to our table. Tony’s menu highlighted regional specialties from all over Europe, from house-made Irish corned beef to Spanish calcots (wild spring onions often blackened on an open fire and served with romesco sauce).
My favorite was his Welsh rarebit: hearty dark rye toast slathered with a sauce made from cheddar, strong mustard, and ale, served with a fried egg on top and a side of cornichons. How could it not be? Mustard is my favorite condiment. Eggs are my favorite food. Cheese — obviously. Beer — adds bite. It’s in my personal Food Hall of Fame.
I’d been traveling through California for 10 days — from LA to San Francisco, and for several days to Sonoma for an event with the “Top Chef” Season 2 winner, Ilan Hall — and returned home on a Friday night exhausted. We had dinner … and drank a bottle or two of wine. I was so tired that I collapsed into bed without washing the makeup off my face.
I woke up the next morning and remember feeling so grateful that I had nothing to do for a whole weekend. In my half sleep, I rolled over to nuzzle under Jer’s arm and I hit something. I thought it was the phone or the TV remote, and I batted it away. Then I opened my eyes.
Jeremy was wide awake. His eyes were huge and alert. I looked down and saw that in the bed beside me was a small box. He started talking nervously. Words were falling out of his mouth. I barely even heard what he said. I opened the box and there was a ring. I was in such shock, I blurted, “No!” from surprise.
“No?” he said, startled.
“No! I mean, yes!” I said. “Yes! Yes!” I cried, still disoriented from sleep, and put the ring on my finger. It was so beautiful and feminine and perfect. I looked up at him, happy, and he started to laugh.
“You might want to look at yourself.”
I went to the bathroom and saw black streaks of mascara running down my face; my hair was sticking up at all angles.
I cleaned myself up, went back to bed, and he said, “Don’t move. Just stay here.”
We lay in bed, beaming, for a little while and then the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” I insisted, putting on my bathrobe.
When I opened the door, there was a man standing outside with a huge box. I took it from him and it almost knocked me down, it was so heavy. Inside was a full breakfast delivery straight from Tony at August. Since they have a wood-burning stove, they cook everything in cast-iron skillets. They hadn’t transferred anything into to-go containers. Instead, they had just piled the skillets into this box and had it couriered over. There was my beloved Welsh rarebit, and so many other treats, enough food for at least three meals. We made it last the whole day, laid out like a picnic on our living room floor.
Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang again. Two deliverymen arrived bearing vases full of flowers; huge peonies, dahlias, roses, and hydrangeas. They lasted for days.
(blogger’s note- Just goes to show, all good stories end with lots and lots of flowers).
Excerpted from the book Talking With My Mouth Full by Gail Simmons. Copyright (c) 2012 GMS Media Inc. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.
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