There is a story of a man that I’ve told before, a man whose one wish was to become a father. “I’ve sown my wild oats, I’ve travelled far and wide and I’ve done it all. Now that is all behind me, chapter closed, and I am ready to settle down and have children,” he said, staring into her eyes, squeezing her hand in his. “And,” he continued, face aglow, “I want to have them with you.” “Ah,” she exclaimed, eyes demurely turned toward the sidewalk, her heart beating just a little quicker, smile playing on her lips, “Ah, but I’m a nice Jewish girl! I must be married before I have children.” He pulled her closer and laughed “Anything you want!” And married they were.
And by the end of one year a child was born. And during that year even before becoming Papa, he was already preparing for his best role ever. He catered to her every whim, taking her for couscous each and every time the craving swept over her; he pampered her, filling the tub with bubbles and making sure she was always comfortable. And as the time approached, his excitement escalated and he would poke her every now and then trying to see if it was time, trying to make it happen just a little more quickly. And the morning she awoke with the first hint of contractions, he was ready and waiting at the door, her suitcase in hand, begging her to allow him to take her to the hospital, even more excited than she. Although, if he had had his druthers, he would have kept her at home, all to himself, and delivered his son on his own.
Two sons later and he was still in Seventh Heaven. Holding his tiny infants was so natural for him and while she was afraid to drop or break the delicate little beings, he was always so comfortable with them in his arms. “They’re only little animals!” He would exclaim, laughing. He carried them around fearlessly, bathed and changed them, fed them when she allowed. And he watched them joyously, joyfully, as they grew from babies to boys.
He was the ideal father, spending every free moment with his sons, his little family, taking them everywhere, an exciting outing every weekend: museums and parks, finding adventure in both city and country. And oh the discoveries they made, the animals, the artwork, things growing, things invented; he offered the excitement of the world to his two young sons. Doors opened wide, he offered them languages and countries and cultures, new lands, new landscapes; Paris, Milan, New York; the beaches of Florida, the desert of Morocco, the monuments of Italy, the Brittany coast and the French countryside. He told them stories, tales of pirates and kings, ancient worlds and distant lands, he fed them on history and instilled his own passion in the hearts of those little boys. He showed them how to plant things, taught them all about animals and fish and insects and birds and he made them brave and curious. The world was their oyster and he would wield the knife, crack open the hard, cruel shell and find the shimmering, glorious pearl for those two boys.
And the years passed and it continued, the bond growing even when tried, even through the turbulent teen years, those years when monsters are created. Arguments and threats, challenges and defiance, through bad grades and good, growing pains suffered by one and all. But on he pushed, forging ahead with this fatherhood thing, this weighty, grave responsibility, trying to guide and teach, inspire by example. Arms waving and voice raised, or joking banter and silliness, he snuck in lessons, offered information, tried to impress upon them the importance of knowledge, education and good conduct by any means possible.
And, yes, the mother suffered as only mothers can. She shielded one from the other and back again, soothed the bumps, calmed the fears and offered cake and hot meals. That odd and special father-son relationship punctuated by slammed doors and long chummy walks in the woods, afternoons watching rugby or garbage bags stuffed with clothes and tossed out onto the doorstep, each of them suffered growing pains, two boys learning to be men, one man learning the lessons of fatherhood.
And here we are. Those two beautiful babies are now men and perched on the edge of adulthood and wending their way out into the world. They have, we do admit, grown into two generous, smart, funny, intelligent people. Fatherhood doesn’t end here, and it has been a long, uphill road from that day his declaration was made, his wish whispered while standing on that storefront sidewalk. And what measure success? How does one know or understand if it has been a success when it is not yet over and done with? As far as she is concerned, he has been and still is….
Happy Father's Day.
GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES WITH CHICKPEA FLOUR & MACADAMIA NUTS
A Lucullian Delights recipe from my friend Ilva with slight flavor changes
10 ½ Tbs (150 g) unsalted butter
3.5 oz (100 g) dark quality chocolate
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs (80 g) chickpea flour
1 pinch (about 1/8 tsp) salt
2 - 3 Tbs dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract, I use Nielsen-Massey fine vanilla extract *
½ tsp coffee extract, I use Nielsen-Massey fine coffee extract *
3.5 oz (100 g) whole blanched macadamia nuts
White chocolate for decoration, optional
* Both the vanilla and coffee extracts are optional.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 9-inch (25 cm) square brownie or cake pan, bottom and sides.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a small pan or in a bain-marie (place in a heatproof bowl set over a small pan of an inch of gently simmering water) over low heat, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
Whisk or stir together the chickpea flour, the salt and the cocoa powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the eggs and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk briskly for a few minutes until fluffy (this is very easily done by hand). Whisk in the butter and chocolate in a steady stream until blended.
Add the dry ingredients to the batter and stir or whisk until well blended. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes until the surface is matte and the center of the brownies just set. A toothpick or tester inserted in the center should come out damp but not coated with raw batter.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a rack before drizzling with melted and slightly cooled white chocolate, cutting and serving.