My first date with the young man whom would after a year become my husband, asked me out to dinner. His tiny Morris Mascot looked like a miniature to me, like a child’s toy. Compared with our large American-built vehicles, his English-made automobile appeared petite. I looked at Jesper, then at the car, then back at Jesper. How could he possibly fit his over-six-foot frame into that tiny lunchbox?
“Is that a car?” I cried out and laughed when I saw it.
His legs were long, and yes, it was difficult for him to get into his tiny little car. He looked like a giraffe that had to drop its head down low to avoid hitting the top of the vehicle. He grabbed the wheel with his right hand and held it firmly so he could support himself while he lifted his right leg and landed with a plop on the seat. Then, dragging his left leg and the rest of his body into place, he let out a sigh of relief as if it were a big problem climbing in and out of the car every day. Apparently, he wasn’t upset with me for laughing, and he motioned for me to get in the car.
Now it was my turn to turn to squeeze myself into the car. Sure, we have small cars in the States. However, this car was different. The roof of his vehicle was lower than the ceiling of most cars. I was sure this car was the smallest car I had ever seen. I am a pretty tall girl myself and studied the situation a few seconds.
I grabbed the door for support, crouched down and with my rear end first; I dropped into the seat with all the grace of a baby elephant, shaking the car. He didn’t seem to notice; he had already started the car and was pulling out of the parking space. Small, inexpensive cars tend to rattle and shake, and I could feel every little bump in the road. The faster he drove, the more the vehicle vibrated. It was only a few blocks to the restaurant, and we were there after just five minutes.
It started to snow, the snowflakes spattering onto the window only to melt immediately. Jesper pulled into the parking lot, got out quickly and started walking towards the restaurant. First, I waited, making no attempt to get out of the car. I’ve been expecting him to open the door for me. Apparently, he was unaware of this practice.. He darted towards the entrance, pulling his collar up around his neck, shielding himself from the first winter’s snow. It was cold, and he didn’t seem to notice that I wasn’t following him as he hurried over the snow-covered ground towards the restaurant.
In the meantime, I gave up waiting for him to open the door and tried to get out of the car. To my surprise, there was no handle. There was just a cord attached to both sides of the door. There wasn’t a window handle either, so I couldn’t crank the window open to shout after him.
When he noticed that I wasn’t walking next to him, he turned around, hesitated a moment, and then started walking back to the car with a bewildered look on his face. Arriving back at the car and standing right next to the door, he hunched down and gestured with his hands that I should open the window by pushing the window sideways. It was then I noticed that the window was a sliding window with a strip of metal in the middle of the window with a knob. I took hold of it and pushed it to the right.
“Won’t you join me?” he said with amusement in his voice.
“Yes, but I don’t know how to open the door,” I complained.
“Push down on the cord,” he said as he pushed the air with his hands as if he was opening the door. I pushed the rope down, and the door popped open. I crawled out of the car with his help, and together we walked towards the restaurant.
Veal fricassee is a wonderful summer dish with new carrots, peas and new potatoes.
Veal Fricassee with Spring Vegetables
2 lb. (910 g or 1 kilo) veal, shoulder or brisket
3 tsp. salt per quart of water
1½ lb.(700 g) new carrots, leave them whole if they are small, if not, slice in 1½ (3.75 cm) inches
5 leeks, washed thoroughly to remove grit and chopped
½ lb. (230 g) shelled peas
1 leek top (only the green leaves)
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs parsley
string to tie bouquet garni
2 cups (16 fl. oz.) light cream
5 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups (½ quart) stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
To make veal, put meat in a pot and pour enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil and skim the broth. Add salt and bouquet garni to pot. Cover and simmer over low heat, about 1½ hours. Transfer meat to a plate and remove bones. Cut or shred meat into bite-size pieces and set aside
To make vegetables, remove bouquet garni and cook carrots and leeks 2-3 minutes in cooking liquid. Transfer vegetables to a plate and strain 4 cups (1 quart) of liquid into a large pot. Stir cornstarch into the cream and pour into pot with cooking broth. Boil broth 2 minutes. Add carrots and peas and bring to boiling. Add meat, season with salt and pepper.
To serve, arrange fricassee on a hot platter or large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.
Suggested accompaniment: Boiled new potatoes