Today is my wedding anniversary. It all started with my 4-Step Chicken Piccata, the first dish I ever cooked for Philippe (I made it with veal and served it on a bed of sauteed spinach). And it culminated in a crusty paella, a d’Arabian family tradition, served alfresco on a June evening a couple of years later to about a hundred of our friends and family who had traveled to our wedding in the village where Philippe grew up.
Since we had so many tourists visiting from as far as Hawaii, our wedding stretched into a two-week vacation, filled with meals, toasts and sightseeing that started in Paris and made its way south to Aix-en-Provence. By the time our actual wedding arrived, it seemed as though our guests had become a community, connected by something more than just being on our short list of special people in our lives. One of my favorite snapshots caught by a guest is of my (American) stepmother talking animatedly with Philippe’s (French) grandfather, both heads are thrown back in laughter, totally understanding one another, even though neither spoke a word of the other’s language.
Our wedding incorporated both of our cultures: We recited our vows in French and English, and we had a classic tiered American wedding cake as well as a French croquembouche (an impressively tall cone of cream puffs held together by spun caramelized sugar). We were married by a priest and a pastor in small stone church at the top of a hill, surrounded by the people who matter most to us. The whole experience is etched in my heart as the just-right start to my life as a d’Arabian.