The first thing I ever cooked for the man who was to become my husband was frites, known here in the States as fries. I thought it unexpected and quirkily romantic. I presented the salty frites, crisp from a double fry in peanut oil, in two small galvanized-tin buckets I’d lined with parchment. Feeling very ooh la la, I served up my frites with a swoon-worthy dipping sauce. Romance was in the air, and remoulade was on the table.
The luxurious sauce and its sweet reminders of our beginning have made remoulade the natural starting point for a dozen years of Valentine’s Day menus. What accompanies it is always different, but the remoulade is a constant. We’ve paired it with roasted shrimp and baby lobster tails, used it as a dunk for chilled asparagus, and dolloped it on cold fillet of beef. Just once, we missed having it—the year the child we’d yearned for was born.
We’ve been a threesome these last Valentine’s Days, and our menu for this year is planned. Fish and chips our style: Alaskan cod with a salt-and-vinegar potato chip crust, and frites (double potatoes, yes, but is it a crime?). We’ll tell our young son the story of the frites and why they and the dipping sauce that isn’t ketchup are so special to us. Timothy, a child inhabited by a spirit of romance and a passion for good food, will delight in it all. And what could be more romantic than that?
By Laraine Perri, a food writer in New York City.