Nov 11, 2007

Of Mousse and Marriage

Last night, the entire Bjerkan clan gathered for a potluck, our first here in Norway. The day was cool with a hint of snow in the air, but once the sun set, lit candles cast a lovely glow over the mix-and-match buffet magically conjured up by our joint efforts.

My contribution was relatively uninspired - a salsa/bean/cheese concoction toasted in the oven on the new 'tub' style taco shells that are a huge hit with my family. I also sliced some smoked salmon (a staple in our home), and wrapped puff pastry around a brie topped with mushrooms sauteed in red wine.

Among more exciting offerings, the Italian kitchen was represented by cheesy lasagnas of both the meat and veggie kind, as well as a delicious green salad. We were also treated to French cuisine courtesy of a red wine based casserole with whole onions, peppers and juicy chunks of fillet. All dishes were scrumptiously satisfying.

And yes, I did gain 5 pounds last night. Thanks for asking.

The night's pièce de résistance was definitely my sister's homemade mousse au chocolat. It was divine in its fluffy lightness, and the chunks of chocolate hidden within layers of decadence were little bites of heaven.

In my reverie, I was transported back to a similarly cool November weekend some 13 years ago. On paper, that looks like a long time ago, but last night, it felt like the blink of an eye. Each spoonful of pure bliss brought back memories of another evening where chocolate mousse had played a starring role.

In November of 1994, I had settled in Oslo after completing my degree at UBC in Vancouver, Canada. I'd landed a decent-paying job, found a great little apartment in the up-and-coming artistic section of town, and, in my domestic fervour, even acquired a cat. I was enjoying my life, dipping my toes into the post-education waters called 'adulthood'.

My place of work employed several other gals and guys at a similar stage of life, and our interaction often expanded into the off-work hours, with dinners, workouts, clubbing and shopping. One Friday afternoon, after work, a few of us went out to dinner followed by drinks at a club. When I finally made it home, it was past midnight, but it had been a fun evening, and I was looking forward to the weekend off.

The very next morning, I met up with another work colleague for some quality shopping time. This was my first time shopping with this particular girl, and I was thrilled to find that we hit it off right away. After scouring the stores at Aker Brygge for good deals, we had one of those looong lunches, where we cemented our new found friendship with talk about not just work and colleagues, but also our hopes and dreams for the future. We were both in that sweet spot in life where our only responsibility was to ourselves, having completed the scheduled life of university projects and papers, but not yet hit true domestication, partnering and child-rearing. Life was good!

Following the marathon shopping and chatting session, I didn't make it back to my little apartment until late that afternoon. The sun was already setting on the blustery day, and I remember walking from the bus stop towards my building at a brisk pace, feeling happy that my shopping date had gone so well, but chilled to be outside after spending the better part of the afternoon inside a warm cafe. I wondered if I was coming down with a cold.

As I opened the door to my apartment, my little kitty ran out to meet me, relieved to have company after several hours alone. She is the only cat I've ever known who enjoyed a good game of 'fetch', and we had a quick session of throwing a rolled up ball of paper down the hall for her to bring back to me.

I'd just crashed on the couch with a cup of steaming hot tea and a book when the phone rang. It was my friend Helene calling to remind me of her dinner party that evening. A dinner party I had forgotten all about. As we were talking, I looked outside and saw snowflakes in the air, the wind busy throwing them this way and that. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my toasty warm apartment again. I told Helene I was feeling a bit under the weather after the busy week, and that I'd rather not have to venture out into the cold again. "Thank you, but I hope you have a great party."

Helene was never one to take no for an answer, and she persisted, begging me to come. She'd invited a Canadian guy to her party and needed someone to help entertain him. He didn't speak much Norwegian, but since her other guests were Norwegian, she couldn't very well speak English all night. "Can't you please come and help me?"

I had no desire to waste a Saturday night trying to make conversation with some guy I'd never met, and frankly, had no interest in meeting. I looked longingly at my book and the hot tea on my table. As I hesitated, trying to come up with an unassailable reason to stay at home, Helene grabbed the chance to clinch the deal: "Heidi, Eivind is making his famous chocolate mousse especially for you tonight. You have to come and have some, or he'll be upset."

I made it to Helene's party that night. And I dutifully sat down next to Mike, who was working as a consultant in Norway for a few months. I also made an effort to converse in English, as requested by my hostess. It didn't take long for me to realize I wasn't wasting my time. And when Mike moved to Costa Rica 9 months later, I packed my bags and followed. The rest, as they say, is history.

Oh, and the chocolate mousse? Life-altering!

50 comments:

the dragonfly said...

You make me very, very hungry.

And what a great story!!

Sue said...

Thank goodness for Helene!

jen said...

what a terrific story. i love these memories, how we got to the place we are in.

Badness Jones said...

What a beautiful story! Isn't it amazing how the smallest decisions can seem to alter our entire destiny? I'm glad I decided to use the baby's nap to catch up on your blog...

Julie Pippert said...

What a great story! It's amazing how the intersections come about!

And you gave such a good image of it.

The food sounds delish.

Not too long ago on a food show on the Travel Channel or a travel show on the Food Channel (hey, a girl needs her porn and eye-candy okay?) they featured a trip to Norway, where they went to places that specialized in reindeer dishes.

I mean, it was on TV, it must be true but...do Norwegians really eat reindeer? Like it's common?

Or is like, hmm, I don't know, steak tartare---rare (no pun intended) and for specialized palates?

Julie
Using My Words

Karen MEG said...

What a feast! And what a wonderful food memory. Thank goodness for Helene and the mousse!
Mike must have made quite the impression, and vice versa :)
I believe in fate; it is amazing the different paths we take and the choices we make. That's a great story.
My food memories of Ian tend to revolve more around drink, and more specifically beer. Not quite as elegant as mousse ;)

Ginaagain said...

The potluck sounds delicious.. and your contributions don't sound uninspiring at all!

Isn't it amazing how one small event can alter the course of our lives? Imagine if you had stayed home with your tea. Thanks for sharing your story.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Awesome story - having tea alone is pretty great, but nothing is as a beautiful in life as a loving partner and a house full of noisy family and too much food.

I'm getting anxious for our American Thanksgiving!

MadMad said...

What a great, great story - and told like a master; I was sitting there waiting with bated breath for the end. Isn't fate interesting?

Oh. And now I'm hungry, btw.

Rimarama said...

I love this post! Your words always paint such a vivid picture of the story you are telling, and this was a lovely one, indeed.

Oh, and by the way, I don't consider "puff pastry around a brie topped with mushrooms sauteed in red wine" uninspired!

chichimama said...

Fabulous story!

I MUST try that mousse now. Not that I need a hubby anymore, but perhaps it could find me a few extra hours in the day...

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

What a great story. I love to look back and see those crossroad moments that fall into our laps by accident, but which take our lives down completely different paths than the one we were on.

And yes, I want some mousse now. Could you pop some in the mail for me? I WILL PAY.

Misty said...

What a cute story. What awesome food! Wish we had French/Italian/Norwegian folks in my family potlucks!

Victoria said...

Any story that involves True Love is a wonderful story...but one that involves True Love and Chocolate Mousse? Heaven.

Thanks for sharing...I enjoyed!

Happy Sunday evening!

Kellan said...

It's so interesting to track the times of our lives and realize how each turn, each person we meet, each choice ... brings us to where we are - good and bad. I enjoyed this story - thanks for sharing! See you soon.

Amy Y said...

Those 5 pounds were definitely well earned... the food sounds yummy! Don't worry, 3 of them are likely water.

I loved the story about Mike ~ thank goodness you went to that party! :)

Oh, and we once had a cat who played fetch. Her favorite object to fetch was a penny. Weird.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love food memories. And I must admit to a bit of envy over your potluck. When I hear pot luck I don't usually think of brie, or french cuisine. My potluck experiences usually consist of casseroles and chili.

On the other note, it never ceases to amaze me how easy it would have been for many great couples to have never met.

Chantal said...

Awe how nice is that!

hokgardner said...

What a neat story! And I hope no one broke any dishes, unlike our potluck.

Kathryn said...

What a great story! And you tell it so well. You paint such a beautiful picture, I really feel as if I'm there.
Chocolate mousse is my fav!

Stomper Girl said...

You should have chocolate mousse as your anniversary dessert EVERY year!

ALM said...

I hate to echo everybody else... but... A great story! And so well told! I loved it!

Beck said...

Oh, those near-misses in life, eh? What a magical story.
(and your culinary offering was "uninspired"? Not HARDLY!)

Mrs. G. said...

What a fun story. My stomach is growling. Are you planning on posting the recipe for that life altering mousse? I never get tired of hearing stories of how people met. Just a sucker for romance I guess.

WorksForMom said...

Wow, LOVE this story and how everything intersected.

So what if you gained 5 little pounds IF the chocolate mousse was worth it!!

Who She She said...

What a beautiful love story! This is something you'll have to tell your kids (when they get to the non-groaning stage and can appreciate it).

Kristen said...

Oh! I love your story! Thank you so much for sharing it.
See chocolate really is good for us, in so many ways.

Cathy said...

What a great story!

(Although this post does make me want to go raid the pantry.)

Valarie said...

That was so great. How cute and how great is it that this makes eating chocolate mousse even MORE enjoyable! :)

The Hotfessional said...

How sweet. Isn't it lovely the way things work out?

Oh, and please share instructions for your brie/wine/mushroom concoction. Yum.

Mountain Dweller said...

'Life-altering chocolate mousse'? That ought to be sold in all super-markets - it sure sounds like it might make the world a better place!

suburbancorrespondent said...

Cool story!

slouching mom said...

Aww... The best of stories!

Jennifer said...

So cool! I just love How We Met stories.

Candy said...

What a terrific story. Just think what might have happened if there hadn't been mousse! Quelle horreur!

another good thing said...

wow. the power of chocolate. Great post. Though, I am, like some other posters, now quite hungry.. excuse me while I go forage party leftovers.

Gina said...

What a fabulous story!

And yes, thank heavens for Helene and her inability to take no for an answer.

painted maypole said...

great story.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

What an amazing story. I hope it's part of your "once upon a time" stories you tell your boys at bedtime!

Kristen said...

My husband and I loved reading your story, thanks so much for sharing! Mousse is so much more romantic now:)

Barrie said...

What an adventure!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I love this story! Sounds like it was fate for the two of you to meet!

That mousse sounds divine!

Aliki2006 said...

That WAS life-altering!

And I'm hungry, too, now for that scrumptious-sounding mousse.

Steph said...

What a great story! Glad you had a fun potluck too. Everything sounded tasty!

sandy shoes said...

THAT is a cool story.

Shan said...

Love this story!

theotherbear said...

My cat also chases balls of paper and brings them back in an odd game of fetch.

Just Seeking said...

I have chills from this story!
By the way, your contributions to the feast at your clan gathering does not in ANY way sound uninspiring! I'm waiting for recipes....

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Melissa said...

Heidi....the best story ever! I'm doing catch up on your blog after seeing your hubby last night! It was nice to see him and nice to 'see' the family on your blog! But you know what you've done now...........you'll have to make sure that you make this life altering mousse for ALL your friends so we can see what magic can happen for us! Can't wait!
Melissa. PS I really have to do this more often cause each time I forget my password! Happy Holidays if I don't write again! Hugs and Kisses to the boys!