At 7:20 pm on October 23, 2009, I sat on my bed all dressed up and waiting.
Anthony had called two hours before and haltingly asked if I would like to have dinner with him. I tried to play it cool, offering an upbeat but measured, “Sure.” But I was so excited I felt like my chest was going to explode. I hadn’t been on a real “first date” in years! In my excitement, I hadn’t really processed where he said he was taking me for dinner. Salvadoran food…that’s like Mexican, right?
As soon as I hung up the phone, I ran—it might have been more like danced—to the shower and used my best shampoo, exfoliating facewash, and even left my conditioner on for longer. I picked out an outfit that looked put together, but not like I tried too hard—skinny jeans, simple heels, and a smart sweater.
Anthony showed up, cute and confident, in a blazer and a beat-up gold minivan, and we were off. He’ll be mad if I tell you that we got lost, he still maintains that we just “didn’t go far enough.” But it was fine by me, more time for talking in the car.
When we finally got there, one step inside the place and I knew that even my little black heels were too much—and I loved it! There was hardly a soul in the place, save a small group of Salvadoran men in the back who were eating and watching TV. The perimeter was lined with shiny, red, plastic-covered booths and the walls were decorated with Salvadoran flags and brightly colored portraits of Mary and the saints. The menus were completely in Spanish, so I shrugged, smiled, and let Anthony order for both of us. I know, the feminist in me was horrified. (But the girl in me couldn’t help but swoon as he ordered in beautiful, fluent Spanish.)
I soon discovered that Salvadoran food is not like Mexican—or at least not the Mexican food I’ve had. From my limited experience, Salvadoran cuisine is not very spicy. It is simultaneously influenced by the Caribbean and by Latin American traditions, so they cook a lot with tropical fruits and plantains, but also with corn and beans. El Salvador is particularly known for its pupusas, which are essentially stuffed corn cakes that have been griddled to hot, pliable perfection. Traditionally, pupusas are served with mild salsa and a pickled cabbage slaw called curtido. The best part is, of course, that you eat them with your hands.
So, Anthony and I drank cheap beer, gingerly ate piping-hot pupusas stuffed with beans, cheese, and pulled pork, and talked and laughed until they all but kicked us out.
That was a year ago this weekend, and we’ve been eating, drinking, talking and laughing for the last 365 days, give or take a few.
This weekend, in honor of our one-year anniversary, Tony and I decided to make our own pupusas. This time I was clad in yoga pants and a t-shirt, my hair was in a ponytail, and I wasn’t wearing any make-up. And Tony definitely wasn’t wearing a blazer. But we downed cheap beers, ate our homemade pupusas (and salsa and curtido) fresh off the griddle, and had a blast. We probably didn’t look as beautiful as that first night, and I can guarantee you the pupusas didn’t. But I, for one, still felt just as giddy and excited…though perhaps without the nerves.
I remember my first dates with Andy. I was at University of Exeter, living with five girls. They would spend hours getting me ready for a date – straightening my hair, helping me pick out what to wear, offering up their new make up. I’ll never forget that.
On our first date we went to a restaurant called A.S.K. We had red wine and I had pasta with a pesto sauce. I went to the bathroom half way through the meal and was horrified – purple tongue and teeth with bits of basil in my teeth. I was surprised he asked me out again 😉 But it’s been over seven years since that first date and I couldn’t be happier!
Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says
Awww, happy anniversary, you two. I knew this boy was family. He loves the Latin food as much as I do! I’ve never had Salvadoran food, but these pupusas sound wonderful. I’ll be making those as soon as we come back from Maine.
Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon says
Sharon, what a great memory of your first date.
Such a cute story! Thanks for sharing 🙂
P.S. I love it when my guy orders for me…am I old-fashioned?? 😉
Happy Anniversary! What a great way to celebrate it!
Thanks for sharing you sweet story!
Lovely rememberance and a lovely way to celebrate the first year. Pupusas, I have read about them but never made them, think it is about time I did.
That was a great story. I am coming up on my 10 year anniversary and I still remember our first date as if it were yesterday.
Great story, Sharon, and since you were working with me 2 days a week last fall and we were talking lots, I remember the story very well too.
I knew you had found the right person when you told me he drove a minivan, drank good wine, and knew what to do with over-the-hill produce.
BTW, the pupusas are excellent. I know the ingredient list is long, but the assembly and cooking is quite quick. The southern girl in me was actually craving one for breakfast this morning.
Pasadena has the best Salvadoran restaurant on North Lake with a pupusa sampler (ten different ones!) Yum! And happy one year anniversary, too. All is well.
My husband drove a minivan when we first started dating. He would joke that nobody would ever think we were on a date in that thing. We also called it his “chick magnet.”
I was impressed on our first date before it even started because he invited me to a play. Not drinks or dinner or a movie, but an actual play which he purchased tickets for in advance! Nice.
Tickled Red says
Awww great story love. There’s something about meeting your true love that makes your memory lapse and the butterflies to go from your stomach all the way up to your head in those first couple of days 🙂 You brought back memories my first date tonight, thanks!!
Nancy @ TheSensitivePantry says
I love that you replicated the meal you had on your first date a year later in celebration of your one year anniversary. The only thing I remember about my first date with my husband is that it was freezing cold and his car broke down. He lovingly wrapped a blanket around me while he tinkered with the car. It never started so we walked to a local bar and had a drink while he massaged my freezing feet. The rest is history.
What fun! My husband and I love to cook meals together that are inspired by romantic dates. Your man sounds like a keeper! 🙂
Well,I’m wishing you a similar story, Sharon!
XX, Helen I can’t help but tell you about MY FIRST DATE in October 60, yes 60 years ago at Uof P. That night I thought he would make a terrific husband, and on the second date I Knew he’d be mine!!
What do you mean moderation? The “he is Monty.